Talking about money during a job interview is something that makes most of us more nervous than it should. We usually avoid it, assume that we’re all on the same page, or just take whatever is offered and never work through any salary negotiations. But none of these are the best strategy! Salary negotiation is an important part of the job interview process and can benefit all parties when done correctly.
Here are a few tips to ease your nerves and help you have a successful money conversation:
Choose the right time to have salary negotiation conversations.
This is the key to starting off a salary negotiation conversation on the right foot. You definitely don’t want to come into the initial interview & demand to know what the position pays right out of the gate (or worse, tell the interviewer what you demand to be paid!). This first interview is all about determining if you’re a match for the company and the position. Be prepared to ask thoughtful questions about what your duties would be in the role and what skills they are looking for in an employee. All of this will help you determine a pay range that you feel is fair for when the conversation takes place. At the same time, you don’t want to wait until the 3rd or 4th round of interviews to talk salary. Why waste your time, and theirs, by continuing to come in if you’re in completely different ballparks when it comes to compensation? Ideally, you want to have the money talk after the first interview when the call comes in to invite you back for round 2.
Ease into any negotiation conversations with specific wording.
These conversations always feel a little bit awkward, so it’s best to ease into it. Ask the person you’re speaking with if they are the right person to discuss salary with. There’s no sense wasting your well-rehearsed pitch on someone who has no say in the decisions. If they aren’t the right person, simply ask who is and how you would contact them. If they are the correct person, ask if now is a good time to discuss it. You never want to launch into a somewhat serious conversation if the person in the decision-making role is pressed for time. Most of the time, an employer is open to having the conversation or at least starting it on the spot. But if not, ask if you can set a time in the near future to have the chat. It really is that simple & opens up the floor for honest dialogue from both parties.
Be prepared to accept a counter-offer and what is a realistic pay rate.
Once you bring up salary, you’re opening the door for questions about your expectations and what you’ve been paid in the past. This can be uncomfortable if you’re currently unemployed or looking to move up in your chosen field. When asked about your current or past salary in this situation, it’s best to avoid backing yourself into a corner by providing a range. If it’s significantly lower than what you’re hoping to get in this new position, you can also point out that you see this opportunity as a chance to move up in your field & take on more responsibility, thus an increase in pay.
Similarly, your interviewer may turn the question around & ask what you’re hoping to be paid if offered the position. This can be especially tricky because you don’t want to sell yourself too low, but also don’t want to price yourself out of the opportunity. Again, it’s best to offer a range rather than a direct number. A little research and advanced preparation can go a long way in helping you get in the ballpark of what people in similar positions are currently being paid.
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