Job Doctor: Each Tuesday Darren Robinson answers questions about career development and finding a new position.
Photo(s) : Stethoscopes/Creative Commons
Dear Job Doctor,
At what point during the process should I bring up the compensation package?
The questions relating to compensation during the interview process can be one of the most challenging, not only what to ask and answer but when to ask and answer.
The best time to discuss the salary is at the end of the interview process. The initial interview(s) is the time for the employer to evaluate whether you are right for the role and organisation and the time for you to sell yourself in relation to the job criteria and fit. It’s likely that the compensation question will be asked and it is important at the early stages to deflect the question, my advice is not to give the number first.
The person who gives the number first sets the starting point. It is likely you will lose if you give the number first. If your number is higher than the salary range for the job, the interviewer will tell you that you are too high and you begin to lose. If your number is lower than the salary range, the interviewer will say nothing and you begin to lose. Remember it’s nothing more than a negotiation exercise.
Many people chose to work with a third party recruitment firm in order to refer this sensitive negotiation to their recruitment consultant. A competent recruitment advisor will provide you with all the guidance you need to perform well at an interview and how to handle “the compensation question”.
If your recruiter cannot provide any form of interview guidance, chose another who can, most preferably face-to-face. Given two identically qualified and competent candidates, the one who performs better at the interview will get offered the job.
There are many styles and types of questions the interviewer may use to get you to provide the number first. For example, if they simply ask “what salary are you are looking for?”, respond with “what is your salary range?” You can then focus on getting to the high end of the range. If the interviewer reverses this answer and asks you what your salary range is, deflect and respond with something like “let’s discuss the job requirements in more detail and your expectations first, then I can get an understanding of what you need”.
It’s important to keep an amicable tone of voice, level of enthusiasm, and body language during the interview, including this questioning phase to ensure you do not sound obnoxious or obstinate by not (directly) answering the question.
Remember, you are at an advantage, as a company cannot make you an offer of employment without offering you a salary.
For further guidance on handling the compensation question please email me in confidence and I will forward a more detailed guide.
Darren Robinson is managing director of Badenoch & Clark Luxembourg, the largest staffing and recruitment firm in the Grand Duchy.
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