After a first interview goes well, and the prospect of scheduling a second interview is in the foreground, it’s wise to pause and think through what might ultimately happen. Pausing is a lost art in today’s 24/7 world, but a real turn-off-the-cellphone, get-the-kids-a-sitter, booth-in-the-back of a quiet restaurant pause is what’s needed here. A long stroll on an empty beach or a hike in a forest serves the same purpose.

Before going to a second interview, you need to ascertain the true level of your interest in the position. Going on early interviews is informational and fun, and there’s no harm done if you decline, at this point, to pursue the opportunity if you think it unlikely that you would take the job.

That changes when you return for later interviews. The company is investing significant time, effort and money in the process, as is the search firm. Think seriously about the reality of leaving your current job, moving to another company and possibly relocating. Discuss it with your spouse, consider the implications for your family, explore the new location. If you’d move at a certain compensation level but not below it, this is the time to calibrate what figure would attract you, and tell us.

This is no longer a hypothetical situation. That’s the good news, the bad being that you really have to focus on switching companies. Visualize your new responsibilities, chairman, staff, walking into the new building and yes, the larger paycheck, but also visualize resigning your current position, saying goodbye to colleagues, the new commute, filling out new medical forms, packing boxes. Really try to imagine what it would be like, then call us. If you have specific concerns that we can help you think through, considerations that will result in a go/no go decision, we want to know what those are so we can have them addressed honestly and completely.

If you want to proceed, we need a full list of references from you and will go ahead with the assumption that if no glaring problems arise and you are offered favorable compensation you will accept the position.

There’s no dishonor of course in declining at this point. However a “no” much later in the process could sour our relationship and preclude consideration on further assignments. It would also sit poorly with the interviewing company and the people you meet there, some of whom will later be at other organizations. These are the decisions that can come back to haunt careers.

We appreciate the effort you’ve expended in this so far. Now is the time to maximize the hours you, we and the client invest in getting to know each other better. We’re happy to discuss this and answer any questions you have.

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