Employment packages questions and answers at job interviews

The employment package is usually considered to be an executive thing. That's not quite correct. Some employers have good packages for employees as well.

In many cases the packages are a very good indicator of the workplace culture, and how management views their employees. Despite the folklore, there are some very good employers, who are actively engaged in getting the best people and keeping them.

Employee retention is a big issue these days, and in the US, it's an actual industry in its own right. Employee packages are a big part of employee retention, and the overall effect is to improve working conditions.

Packages also relate to a strong competitive force in the employment industry. Google is one of the classic cases, offering packages few other employers can match, to get the right people. Google actively promotes its packages to attract its people.

The lessons of the indiscriminate downsizing and slash and burn employment practices of the past showed their limitations pretty quickly. Lost talent and experience is hard to replace. Businesses have to run on current experience and knowledge.

So the view of the employee as just a cost was never correct. That's becoming much more obvious in the workplace. Some employers are actively headhunting. Others are just after good people.

Before the interview

You may or may not be in a position to negotiate a package. If not, you can however learn a lot about finding good jobs. Some employment packages come with valuable additions, like health insurance, day care, parking, and a range of extras which are worth thousands a year. In many jobs, these expenses literally eat the pay packet before you get it.

The cost of these things is so high that they really are as much of a consideration in choosing where to send your job applications.

A ,000 job which involves you paying ,000 in expenses is worse than a ,000 job where you don't have to pay a cent for the same extras.

This approach to employment definitely reflects the awareness of employers regarding the out of pocket expenses of their employees. It's well worth your while to go looking for good employment packages. The employer offering the better package is definitely the better employer.

At the interview

The topic of the employment package will probably be introduced by the interviewers, but if not you can raise it yourself. You do need to understand clearly what you're getting. You also need confirmation of the package from the employer.

In ideal circumstances, you can say that you're really feeling positive about the job, love the package, when can you start?

If there are any things about the package you don't understand, this is your opportunity to get clarification.

Use it. You need to know.

Possible issues could be anything, but the questions you need to ask are basically the same:

  • Money
  • Costs
  • Entitlements
  • Working conditions
  • Hours and times

The questions are all about pinning down detail. A package is meaningless if it doesn't deliver.

Bear in mind also that some job ads are particularly misleading. Some are technically illegal. If you have reason to believe you've been misled by a job ad, you can complain to the publisher. Advertising laws and employment laws may also be relevant.

Any talk about potential earnings or other unclear information is useless. If the employer isn't actually committed, it isn't a package, it's advertising.

If you're not sure about the value of the employment package, ask.

Real employment packages are built in to the job. Other workers will have the same packages.

They're not performance based.

These are the basic working conditions.

There may well be performance incentives, but the baseline package is the one you need to see. These are the guaranteed features of the package, the ones that deliver actual value.

Asking your questions at the interview

When asking the interviewers, you need to get direct answers confirming details of the package.

Something like:

  • I see you have free child care?
  • You have free parking for employees?
  • Are these earnings performance based?

Leave it at the yes/no level, unless you have some doubts about any conditions or other details.

If you don't like the answers, you've at least found out before you're committed. You don't have to make a decision at that point, unless it's a sales job, so you do have time to think. Figure out the risks, and do some more checking about the job.

If you do like the answers, you've found a good job.