Question: What if you have concerns, but don’t want to come across as not being a viable candidate? –Sarah C., Silver Spring, MD
Answer: Concerns are always difficult to bring up to your hiring manager or recruiter when applying for a job. On one hand, you have these concerns for a reason and need the answers to some questions in order to assess whether or not you’d be willing to accept an offer (if extended). On the other hand, you don’t want to run the risk of asking so many questions that it knocks you out of the running.
The most ideal way to handle this decidedly unsavory situation is to frame your concerns within neutral questions that seek to glean more information about the matter at hand, rather than draw a negative response.
Regardless of whether your issues lie with the day to day responsibilities, salary, or culture and fit, asking open-ended questions will help you in your quest to get the answer you need without jeopardizing your candidacy. For example, if you have concerns that a daily task consumes closer to 65% of your working hours versus the 40% advertised in the posting, you can ask for clarification between what you’ve learned versus what you’ve been told or read. This way, you get the answer you need without making it seem as though you are unwilling to take the position if the task does, in fact, take up 65% of your day.
The key to handling these concerns diplomatically is to, as mentioned, remain neutral. Now is not the time for heated conversations. Do ask clarification on those things that you are not clear on. Be transparent in your communication and share the roots of your concerns.
Avoid leading someone to answering a question a certain way, which could result in you being told what you want to hear for the sake of keeping you in the running. Concerns are natural to have and shouldn’t be cause for a disastrous end to the job seeking journey. It all boils down to the way they are brought up. Brevity and open-minded questions will go far in getting not only the information you need, but also the peace of mind you want!
Nurys Harrigan-Pedersen is president of Careers In Nonprofits, the experts in nonprofit staffing and recruiting with offices in Chicago and Washington, D.C.