8

Today I had a phone/video interview for a position in another town, quite a bit away from where I live. I'd be okay to move there, my wife has lived there for a while and we know it's nice, our kids are still small enough etc.

The interviewer noted the following real problem: The new job will start with 6 months probation period (customary in Germany), and there's a chance that they, or even I, will decide during that time that I'm not a good fit. Leaving me, with family, in a city with a not so strong labor market.

The implication is, I think, that they'd prefer a candidate where they need not worry. The interviewer asked me about how I thought about this issue. My reply was that I'd prefer to spend more time in the interviewing phase so we both can make a better decision: not only have a two-hour in person interview but have me spend a day or so at their office giving me a chance to meet a few possible future colleagues (and them to meet me) so they can give their feedback.

It seems the usual procedure with the company is two interviews, one with prospective manager, one with manager + HR. The job is mechanical and process engineering.

So I'm wondering, what else can I do to make sure I and the position fit well?

Things I considered:

  • Work sample - not sure if this is doable, most times an interesting task will take on the order of magnitude of days, plus the new company is working very differently from my current employer so I'd not only need to do the work (e.g. siting of a machine) but also present it in a way fitting the new job.

  • I think, but I'm not sure, that one key question the manager is asking himself now is how fast I will pull my own weight (they are short on staff now ). I thought about asking him when we talk next week if this is indeed an issue and how we can address it before we sign anything.

These would address if I'd do the work well. They would not address if the position and culture is actually a good fit.

Edit to add: we are talking about 600km, 5-6hours by train. I don't see it as an option to communite on a weekly basis. If they go on with me, and I with them, the next step will be an in-person interview on site. If this will be like I suggested (whole day at the office, chance to meet a few collegues) or just a one-on-two, I don't know.

  • A day at the office seems reasonable to me. – paparazzo Apr 23 '15 at 23:41
  • 3
    What distance are we talking about? And would it be (fairly) easy to get a new job in NewTown if things at NewJob don't work out? – Edwin Lambregts Apr 24 '15 at 9:40
  • 3
    Is it drivable, or do you need to fly? Would it be possible to temporarily live there for the 6 months and come home on weekends? – David K Apr 24 '15 at 14:07
  • Probation periods are common everywhere in Europe but usually intended to weed out people who are grossly incompetent and were able to bluff their way through the recruitment process. I don't think it's common or reasonable to let new hires go for any other reason (if your prospective employer does this regularly, I would consider it a big red flag). So if you know you can do the work, there is no reason to be worried about finding yourself suddenly out of a job. But of course that doesn't mean you will like the culture or be happier than in your current job. – Relaxed Apr 24 '15 at 14:28
  • You get to make one move before your children tie you down, and you're making it to somewhere with a 'not so strong labor market'. Whether you get let off 3 months or 3 years from now, that still sounds like trouble. – Nathan Cooper Jul 23 '16 at 17:40
2

Currently I am a coop student (internships are part of my program), so while I'm not settling down with a family, I have moved 7 times and worked at 4 different jobs in the last two years (including out of the country) so I have some experience in this.

Short answer: see Jane S's answer, I can't sum it up better.

Long answer I slightly totality over-scoped my answer so bear with me, I first thought about what considerations one should make to figure out if they would be a good fit for the job and then discussed how one would go about figuring that out.

I divided determining whether you will be happy with the job into two categories, work related and non-work related and the best way. I think your question is focused on work related, but I will touch on the other side briefly too.

Work related considerations

Is the work going to be good for you. Will the work be challenging enough? Do you have the experience required to complete it? Is it actually interesting to you? This is probably the largest consideration as it dictates most of your working day. As you pointed out, trying some sample work can be an option, but doesn't sound applicable in your case. I think that talking to the manager you would be working for as well as the team (if that is an option) should provide most of those answers. If possible make sure they have seen your resume so they will have an idea if you are qualified (both under and over qualified are bad!). I other words, well crafted interview questions should provide those answers.

What is the culture like Company culture can be the driving factor for joining or leaving a company. Does the company have their employees working a lot of overtime which takes away family time? Do they fly all their employees and families to the tropics for company meetings? Do they have free workout classes at lunch? Again, interview questions are your friend here.

What is the team like: What is the boss like? People work for bosses not jobs, so even if your job is awesome, a bad manager makes the job suck. What is the rest of the team like? This can be one of the more difficult things to determine in an interview but if you have an opportunity to meet them, take it! It doesn't have to be a day in the office (although a good option) an interview with them is often enough to give you a feel for what they are like.

Company premises: This borders between the two categories, but having to commute an hour each way sucks. If you are into cycling are the road safe? Is there a nice area to eat lunch outside? Some of these questions can be answered by Google maps, some cases its best to visit and check out for yourself and sometimes you will just need to ask in an interview. (remember, asking interview questions is a good thing!)

Pay: Money is important, I would discourage only looking for the highest paying job, but being paid well is important. Again, interview question.

Your current job: Why are you changing jobs? Remember, moving and switching jobs are a big deal and you should always ask yourself if this is the right thing first just to make sure. I am not discouraging switching jobs, but ask why you are switching to make sure there won't be any regret.

Non-work related considerations

I'm going to touch on these briefly since they do impact the job indirectly.

To me it really comes down to whether it is a good area for you and your family to live. What are the housing prices like? What is the employment in the commutable area like? Are there things to do in the area? What is the neighbourhood like? Are the schools good? Will your kids have others to play with nearby? These are questions that can will have to be answered by research, the internet is a good start but having a local contact would be helpful and sometimes real-estate agents can provide some answers too.

Short long answer Basically ask lots of questions, do your research, discuss with yourself and your significant other and make the choice regret free!

  • 1
    I like this answer because you give good ideas for the next interview steps. – mart Apr 24 '15 at 19:28
  • 1
    Another thing you might try is to have some time (a day, a few days or even a week) to shadow one of your prospective colleagues so you can decide whether or not the company is a good fit. This way both you and the company get to see whether there's a good fit before you do something you might regret. This will cost you some time and money, but nowhere NEAR as much as it would cost you to move to the new place and then move somewhere else again for a new job... – Cronax Apr 28 '15 at 12:09
4

I'll offer an answer that may not be applicable to your situation but could apply to others.

Try commuting for those six months while your wife and kids stay in your current town. Go to the city for the week and come back home on the weekends, or less often if you need to. This gives you the opportunity to feel out the job and the city but doesn't commit your family to relocating until you're confident you will stay.

Obviously the cost of this solution may make this not possible for you. It depends on how far away the new town is (driving vs. flying) and if you can find someplace affordable to stay while you are there. My dad did this when I was a kid, but it was only a 2 hour drive and he was able to stay with his brother.

  • +1 Especially considering the fact that nowhere is really “far away” in Germany. – Relaxed Apr 24 '15 at 14:19
  • 1
    Best option. Accept the job, commuting/living elsewhere for 6 months should be manageable. During that time you can prepare for your familiy moving. Any additional delays that you put into the application process at this point will only decrease the chance of you getting the job. In other words: your question What else can I do to make sure I and the position fit well is the wrong question. – Jan Doggen Apr 24 '15 at 14:40
3

Short answer: It's a gamble to go to an entirely new place, but ask questions and go with your instincts.

I have done this very thing, shortly after I got married many years ago. We shifted, not to a different country, but a long way away from where we lived and grew up. It was really a leap of faith in many ways, as until you've been actively immersed in the culture, there is really no way to know how well you will fit culturally.

If it is possible and you are so concerned, perhaps ask if you can fly over and look at the office, meet the staff you will be working with, just spend a few hours trying to see how if all "feels" to you. If you care unable to do so in person, maybe ask if you can talk to a couple of staff via phone or email so you can ask informal questions about the work place.

Other than that, there probably is not much more you can do but to either take the leap, or look for another option, perhaps closer to where you currently reside.

Good luck!

1

As engineers a good deal of our work happens in meetings. One thing that may be a good indicator of fit is to try to attend a departmental meeting related to the sort of work you will be doing. See if their work process is something that that would sit well with you and discuss with the manager afterwards. Show that you paid attention and are able to offer insite into the decisions made a where the project is going.

0

Important things to consider for your contract to significantly reduce your risks, are relocation assistance and a severance agreement covering the duration of your probation. The relocation assistance reduces your initial investment and the severance agreement lessens the bad situation where you are let go during the probation for no reason.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.