Common Questions in the Search Process: Advice for Candidates

September 10, 2020

In helping organizations across the healthcare industry build their analytics and data science teams, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with thousands of job candidates. During these countless conversations, I’ve come across some tough, but common questions that many candidates have, but are unsure how to address with prospective employers.

Here are answers to five commonly asked questions that candidates have during the search process, including some important considerations within the current COVID-19 environment.

1.) Should I include a short tenure on my resume?

Many candidates are challenged on whether to include on their resume a position they held for only a short period of time. Often the reason for the shortened tenure has been out of the candidate’s control, such as impacts from COVID-19, corporate downsizing, leadership change, revamped product direction, and other factors.  

We encourage candidates to leave these short tenured positions on their resume. Establishing trust during the interview process is critical with prospective employers. Being transparent about all aspects of your career is essential to achieving that. It’s best to explain the reasons behind the short stint while in the hiring process; rather than having it come up during a background check. As executive recruiters, it’s also important that we know as much as possible about all of your work situations – past and present – in order to best match you in a new role.

2.) When do I tell an employer I’m owed a bonus and/or have equity at my current company?

Candidates understandably don’t want to forego a performance bonus they are owed or walk away from equity they have with their current employer. For some, it’s an impediment to interviewing for a new opportunity, even if they are interested in making a change.

Our advice again focuses on the importance of transparency. If you do decide to pursue new opportunities, it’s best to tell the executive recruiter and potential employer about all important aspects of your current compensation. The worst thing you can do is to be secretive and drop a bombshell late in the process about making up for a lost bonus as part of an offer. Performance awards due within a year can at times be made up as a signing bonus by the new employer, and some may even match or replace your existing equity stake.

3.) The job title doesn’t appeal to me. Should I still pursue the new opportunity?

We encounter candidates who are turned off to a potentially great new opportunity because they don’t like the job title. It’s not a fault to be a little title conscience. But don’t let this be a roadblock from exploring your fit in a position that may be ideal for your career.

We tell candidates to start a conversation with the prospective employer and understand the role. If there’s mutual interest, then sell yourself. A lot of times, job titles aren’t flexible. But if the company really wants you, then you may be able to negotiate an external facing title you like better for your resume, CV and LinkedIn profile.

4.) How do I best learn about a new company’s culture during COVID-19?

Questions related to cultural fit are common and are an important consideration for candidates, as well as their families. The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the manner in which candidates can learn about a prospective company’s culture. Face-to-face visits at the company’s office and lunch/dinner meetings with key team members have been replaced by virtual meetings on Zoom.

We encourage candidates to do as many video conferences with a prospective employer as possible to gather information on the company’s culture as they can. COVID-19 has challenged candidates and employers, as well as executive search partners, to be innovative as well. Recently, we had a candidate who wanted to learn more about the environment he would be working should he need to relocate after the pandemic is over. So we worked with the company’s HR team to arrange a tour of their facility on FaceTime. Candidates should not be shy about requesting unique ways such as this to learn about a company’s culture amid the current restrictions of COVID-19.

5.) How many weeks’ notice do I give my current employer if I decide to leave?

There’s no precise answer on the amount of notice candidates should provide. Many factors come into play too, such as relocation. I talk to a lot of candidates who are very loyal to their current employer. Some want to give 4-5 weeks’ notice, so they don’t leave their company understaffed on key projects.

Loyalty is a great quality that is universally valued by employers. We advise candidates to strike a balance between doing what is right for them and their current employer. As a general rule, 2-3 weeks’ notice is fairly reasonable for all parties involved.

About the Author:

Matt Azarva is the founder and leader of Klein Hersh’s Data practice.  He works with organizations across the healthcare industry, including digital health organizations and Pharma to recruit and hire top data executives, including data science, data management, data strategy and biostatistics professionals.

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Matt Azarva
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About the Author
Matt Azarva is the founder and leader of the Data Practice at Klein Hersh International. He joined Klein Hersh in 2013 and has helped numerous organizations to build out their analytics groups. As the leader of the Data practice, Matt’s responsibilities include: Partnering with organizations across digital health, payers, pharma/biotech to recruit and hire top analytics executives, as well as ...