On Win-Win in the “job interview” game! A psychological contract perspective

A psychological contract refers to an individual’s beliefs about mutual obligations based on perceived promises of a reciprocal exchange in some type of relationship.The terminology was initially used in the relationship between employer and employee and we use the same frame of reference.


If you are looking for a new challenge or better salary, the road you take from applying for a job, to the interview and finally to your new office is full of uncertainties and in the encounters you have with the future employer you might overlook some essential long term information.


If, on the other hand, you are the one who is looking for a new colleague, you are anxious because your project is running out of resources, or your yearly bonus is affected by the KPI’s, you might be tempted to overlook some matching criteria of the candidate with the organization you work for or lead.


And, unless we are careful both scenarios are not likely to lead to a happy ending.


Dear candidate, we know that you are in search of something that can give meaning to your life, make you feel safe and respected, cover your financial, social and self-actualization needs.


We encourage you to make a list of your expectations to the smallest detail when you are going for an interview, let’s call it “wish list” and ask questions to see how many of them are going to be met. Take time not only to sell yourself but to buy the job you wish and the conditions that make you feel your time and effort will be rewarded. Do you have a child, how does the potential employer motivates and retains employees with children? Are you very results oriented, how does the company assess your performance? Do you want to develop a new skill, how many training hours per year do they offer? What is it that you really want from your future boss? How specific are the terms of your future engagement?


Questions as simple as these can clarify your perspectives and give you the chance to evaluate what is acceptable and what is not. Else you might end up disappointed that the dynamic team you needed is formed of two other persons who also happen to work from overseas. Remember you trade skills, results and time for recognition, respect…


Dear manager, we know that the costs for recruitment, selection, induction and training of a new employee are high and you cannot afford investing ongoing time and energy to fill in the gaps.


We challenge you to bring the job advertisement and description to the interview and go through every single line as there is no place for “blind spots” in this game. You have in front of you a person who is looking for a job, but is she or he the right person? What does he expect from you? Is it a salary raise after 3 months or health insurance for his family? Is it constant feedback at initial stage or just freedom of action and measurement of results? Is he willing to work overtime, and if yes, for how many hours a week? What makes him happy or demotivated? What does he appreciate at other employers? What triggered the job search and application?


Deconstructing and revealing the goods and bad before signing,is the right thing to do. The person you are talking to might be travelling with you for a long time if you keep your promises, or evacuate the ship in the first scented harbor. At the end of the day you give status, money, gadgets to receive loyalty, engagement…


Remember: in a give and take context we are entitled to opinion, transparency and feelings.


Cards on the table!