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New normal, new job? Questions to ask in an interview

Pandu W. Soeprapto
Pandu W. Soeprapto

Banker, part-time teacher, and at-any-other-time writer

Jakarta  /  Wed, August 19, 2020  /  09:40 am
New normal, new job? Questions to ask in an interview

The so-called "new normal" is an effort to once again move the country’s economic gears to avoid a further slump in the economy. Since its initiation, companies, malls and stores have reopened their businesses. Roads that have been deserted for the last three months or so are now crowded with vehicles and pedestrians that are now wearing masks and gloves, as well as carrying hand sanitizer and physically distancing themselves from one another.

At the same time, business entities are hiring again -- though not all, each with their own reasons and purposes. For those seeking new opportunities, this might be the time to update your resume and send it to your intended employer.

In a hiring process, people have two interviews, at least. The first is going to be with your would-be supervisor and the topic is related to your work and responsibilities. The second is with a representative from the HR Department. During this particular session, these are the things you ought to ask to better manage your personal finances if you are hired.

Salary

Before going further, ask for confirmation of whether the discussed salary will be your gross or net pay. Gross is the amount before tax and other deductions and your take-home pay will be lower than the amount discussed, while net already takes into consideration the tax and deductions. This sounds simple, but I know acquaintances who forgot to confirm this simple matter and ended up with a new salary that was almost no different to their previous one.

Next, there will be a question about salary expectations and your reason for wanting whatever amount you told the interviewer. My suggestion is do your homework beforehand to know what the average salary is for your position and possible increment. Take into consideration the latest economic situation and the company’s financial performance as well as what can you contribute when you join. Be specific and avoid giving vague answers. Convince the interviewer that you are worth it. 

Then, ask how many times you are going to receive your salary annually. Nowadays, many companies give more than 12 times the salary in a year. The 13th salary is usually the holiday bonus (THR) given before Idul Fitri. Your task is to ask the timing of any extra salaries. 

Bonus? I am not taking into account bonuses in this financial planning as you may or may not get one. However, in my experience I did ask about the possible amount of the bonus.

Insurance

No one plans to get sick. Yet from personal experience I know how expensive medical expenses can be and how they can cripple our finances if we are not prepared. At the same time, I also know how insurance can greatly help us to minimize that financial burden. Before an interview, take note or memorize points from your current insurance program and compare them with the program of the company you are applying to. Information regarding insurance might not be the decisive point to join a company, but it is still crucial.

Pension

One of the reasons I work is to prepare for life after the pension age, which can be as long as our productive days or even longer. Companies pay into pension plans through two contributions: the Workers Social Security Agency (BPJS Ketenagakerjaan) and the Financial Institution Pension Fund (DPLK). The former is compulsory and the funds are managed by a government institution. Nowadays, it is very easy to check your real-time balance through the BPJSTKU application that can be downloaded to your smartphone. The latter is voluntary and the company may or may not participate in this program. If it participated, though partially, your financial needs after retirement are more or less covered. If not, plan ahead to prepare required funds to have a comfortable pension life and plan it now.

Benefits

Now that you know your responsibilities, you have every right to know what kind of benefits are provided for you. The benefits can be given in the form of cash or something else. For example, I receive internet quota for my smartphone monthly as well as free parking. These kinds of benefits can help you to minimize daily expenses, while benefits like allowing to cash in your leave may help when you need some liquidity. There are also companies that provide loans to buy a house or a car with interest rates below market rates. For your own good, be thorough in your questions.

I also surveyed the location of my would-be office and the surrounding area to know what available transportation modes there were. This is also needed to know the range of food prices in the area. For workers, the office is like a second home as we spend around eight hours there. 

From the list, you will have an estimation of your financial situation when you actually move to a new institution. Take note of how much you will likely earn annually, how much you can save and invest as well how much should be put to your emergency funds. Good luck! (wng)

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Pandu W Soeprapto earned his bachelor’s degree from the Bandung Institute of Technology and master’s from Monash University, Australia. He currently works as an assistant vice president in corporate banking and has handled many financing projects in various sectors. He has a passion for teaching and loves to write. Find him on Instagram @pandu_wi_soe.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.