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I am in the biotech field, and I'm interviewing for a junior position. While I'm excited about the opportunity, my experience and qualifications may align more closely with a higher level. The role is under a high-level executive of this firm (Senior Vice President).

Is there a good way and time to inquire about the possibility of adjusting the role's level during the interview process? I'm open to discussing my past accomplishments and how they demonstrate my readiness for the responsibilities at a higher level.

Regarding the time for asking the question -- I am wondering at which phase of the interview to ask. Let us suppose the process involves stages like a phone screen with the manager, an on-site interview (1-on-1 with the manager, HR, and team member), or at the time of going over the offer.

I'd appreciate any advice on how to navigate this conversation respectfully and professionally. Thank you!

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    Can you tell us more about what "level flexibility" means in your situation ? Do you mean to say you want to report directly to both your manager and the Senior VP for various projects ? Apr 20 at 22:20
  • Thanks! By "Level flexibility", I mean the possibility of hiring at a higher level than advertised. For example, the advertised level is Assistant level 1 but because I was already Assistant level 2 before. I am wondering if the employer could consider Assistant level 2. Apr 21 at 0:00
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    I am interviewing for a junior position because I was laid off recently due to workforce reduction at my most recent employer, and at present, I do not see any opportunities for my level. Additional reasons are -- I am a good fit for it (based on experience and qualifications) and I am excited about this opportunity and the employer. Apr 21 at 0:06
  • Thank you all for the feedback! I'm happy to report that the interview went well. The interviewer asked about my preferred level, which I think highlights my strong fit for the role and the value I'd bring to the team. Now that the ball's in their court, I'm cautiously optimistic about the next steps and a potential on-site interview. Apr 23 at 13:32

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There is a risk here. If you want to be a Level 2 and they only want a Level 1 or only have the budget for a Level 1 than there is a disconnect and you may not be a good fit for the role. You need to clarify for yourself what's acceptable to you and what isn't.

I'd bring it up towards the end of the first interview with the actual hiring manager. Ask about future career development and how you would they see you fitting into this role and the development path. Depending on how the interview went, you can decide how much to lean into the discussion and how upfront you want to be about.

If you have already decided you need to be a Level 2, than you can lean in hard: that's what you want and it either works or it doesn't. There is no benefit from treading carefully and then not accepting later.

Finally, you should probably clarify what exactly is important to you about the Levels? Is it title, reputations, compensation, growth trajectory, etc. Depending on what it is there may be a way to accommodate you without a formal title change.

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  • Thanks for your response. Apr 21 at 23:25
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You can ask that question during either the phone screen with the manager or the on-site interview with the manager.

Those 2 interviews would be the best time to ask because the manager should be familiar with the job description and the role.


Edited:

I've just read your comments under your post. Basically, you commented that you plan to ask if they would consider letting you work in level 2 while the job is specifically for level 1.

Please be careful when you ask that question because the job is clearly marked for level 1, the job requirements are for level 1, and the salary is for level 1.

Therefore, the company may prefer other candidates who specifically look for this "level 1" job only, and NOT the "role flexibility" for level 2.

The reason is that company may be afraid that you would only work at this "level 1" job for a short time, and then plan to move on quickly to the "level 2" jobs at other companies ASAP.

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  • Once again, thanks for your response. I will consider this. Apr 21 at 9:15
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The better way to phrase this might be "what does the career path look like? how quickly do you think I could earn promotions?" That indicates that you are eager to grow your skills and responsibilities, emphasizes that you know you have to earn it, and suggests you are thinking about career with them rather than short-term job, without implying that you consider the entry-level position inadequate.

Unless you are desperate, though, I would not normally recommend aiming for a position below your actual capabilities. It doesn't necessarily make you a better candidate than someone who will find the job challenging enough to be engaging and well-paid enough to be comfortable.

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  • Thanks for your response. I will consider this option. Apr 21 at 23:24
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They have advertised it at a level of pay below which you will accept.

You want to be paid at a rate above which they have specified in the advertisement.

If you address the issue with them early, then if they say they can't go above the advertised rate, you have decide if you believe in the end you can convince them that you at the higher rate of pay is better than the other candidates at the lower pay.

If you never address it until the offer letter stage, you are gambling that in the final negotiations you can get them to raise the pay before deciding to go with the next qualified candidate.

Letting them know early lets them know that you will be expensive, and that gives them an excuse to drop your application once they know they can hire a qualified candidate at that advertised rate.

For you the mystery is knowing why they advertised the position at that rate. Are they going to promote the person currently in that slot? Is the budget tight? Is that how they generally fill that career track?

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  • Isn't the "mystery" of "why they advertised the position at that rate" just that they're looking for someone more junior than the OP? Apr 22 at 12:25
  • The reason why will determine if they have flexibility. Apr 22 at 12:31

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