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Insights: How Much Strategy to Share Before the Job is Yours?

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Ask the Expert!
 Through WISE Insights, connect with knowledgeable experts to receive honest and thoughtful answers to your career-related questions, or read about challenges your peers are facing. 

QUESTION

Submitted by: WISE NYC Metro member  |  15+ years professional experience

I am interviewing for a VP position, and as part of the process, I am asked to submit in writing my ideas/strategies on how to take the company to the next level. This is a new role, so there isn't anything in place for what they would like to do. How do I provide them with what they want without risking them using my ideas if I’m not hired? If my submission is too vague, it reflects poorly on me and may disqualify me. Any greater level of detail, I would have essentially given them a plan for free, not to mention the amount of time I would have to spend on this. 

ANSWER

This is an interesting challenge for anyone interviewing for either a permanent position or a role as a consultant. You are correct in not wanting to provide them with in-depth detail of the plan, nor wanting to skimp on detail. I would suggest providing a PowerPoint presentation of some sort in which you include bullet points, and then only talk through those in more detail in the interview. That way, you provide some level of information, but not the full strategic plan.

Unfortunately, short of copyrighting it — which is not appropriate in this setting — you can’t prevent them from using part of your plan if you don't get the job. If it's of any comfort, I have conducted these types of interviews for years and have received plenty of detailed plans, none of which have ever been used in any way by the company if we were not interested in hiring the candidate. Think about it. If your plan is that good that the company is going to use it, then chances are good they will hire you. They won't use a plan from someone they aren't interested in hiring unless the job posting is fake, but that would be a lot of effort just to get free advice and would be easily picked up in the interview stage.

 

Jane Hollman

About Jane Hollman

Jane Hollman has more than 25 years experience in senior human resources roles at large multinationals and sports across Asia Pacific and the United States. Currently a career coach, she helps business leaders and university students think through their career paths. Hollman is passionate about creating flexible, innovative work places and mentors women looking to start their own businesses. She is also a freelance writer covering the business of sports for publications such as Women Talking Sports.

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