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Ognjen Regoje

I make things that run on the web (mostly).

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Interesting interview question: What kind of bonus do you prefer?

I forget where or how I got this idea but I think an intersting interview question might be “What kind of bonus do you prefer? Fixed or as rewards for specific things you do?”

I’ve noticed a lot of companies give bonuses that are pretty equal accross the board and not affected that much by preformance. If the employees are getting an extra salary nearly everyone will get an extra salary and perhaps in a very rare situation someone might get an extra half. I haven’t encountered anyone so far who’s deviated too far from the median. I have met people who’ve gotten 2.5 salaries whereas everyone else got 2 when the company as a whole did well.

Companies also use commissions as compensation but in those cases the commission is the majority of the salary. Often employees who are commission based make more from the commission than the base salary itself.

So, perhaps an interesting question to pose to prospective employees would be whether they prefer a fixed bonus determined by the preformance of the company, or no guaranteed bonus but that their ‘above and beyond’ contributions would directly impact their bonus irrespective of what others get.

I think it would be relatively safe to say that people who chose to have their bonuses be direct results of their own work would probably be more driven, confident and ambitious but also probably slightly more difficult to work with in a team and might be more inclined to play politics. Someone like this might be good in an RND team perhaps.

On the other hand people who chose to have a fixed bonus are probably more conservative and risk-averse, perhaps more detail oriented, while they might lack ambition or confidence. Someone like this might probably be good in a tester position.

So, following that I realized that tech people aren’t often compensated based on their contributions towards the bottom line which is fair given how far removed it is. There are several steps to selling software and revenue, while partially dependant on the quality of the software would correlates more with sales capability and support and connections.

However, tech people can directly contribute towards the bottom line within their department and that might be worth rewarding too. I haven’t thought of the actual procedure for deciding whether something is worth a reward but this might be an interesting idea worth exploring. Perhaps linking it directly to development time or cost saved.

For instance, if it was decided thaat Jasper Reports were to be used and a freelancer who charges $X per day was going to be brought it but someone on your team learnt Jasper on their own time and managed to do it themselves the bonus could be the difference in how much their time cost vs how much the freelancer would have been paid. Another example: one of your team members used React in one of their side project. A project was won that had React as one of the requirements and you were planning on sending your team for React training however your team member was able to conduct the training themselves. Their bonus could be the amount that you saved because you didn’t have to get external training or a portion of it.

I suppose this would encourage people to find useful thing for the company on their own time which is beneficial for you as well as for them. It’d also be great motivation for people who are ultra-competitive.

#interviewing #management #team