What’s Normal In A Job App, And When?

flickr: Bright Meadow

Interesting discussion on the mediabistro.com forums: what’s normal at what stage of your job application?

For example, is it normal to be asked for a writing sample before the first interview? (These days, yes, though it used to be something you’d get asked for after the interview.) Salary requirements? (Same.) The original poster in this case was also asked some pre-interview questions via e-mail, like “Why do you want this job?” We certainly find that a bit strange, and not usual, as did the rest of the commenters. But there’s probably no reason to protest answering these questions, unless they seem like they’d take an inordinate amount of time for not-very-much payoff—in that case you may be better cutting your losses.

We’ve talked a bit about how to handle requests for salary when they come early on—as in, before you’ve impressed them so much with your credentials that they’ll be willing to consider your salary request—and a lot of the same advice applies: give a range, especially if you know what the median salary is for a similar position in a similar area, and emphasize you’re flexible.

In the case of this original poster, s/he and the hiring manager couldn’t come eye to eye on salary, but it worked out in the end: “I didn’t come all the way in to their offices only to find the salary was low because it was for a more junior position than my background.”

The poster adds: “Man, it’s tough to let go though; in this employment climate having somebody show interest in possibly hiring you feels great and holding out for the needed salary feels wrong but I know is right; I’m still not asking for much relative to my experience…”