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How To Ace The Salary Portion Of Your Interview


When you’re interviewing for a new position, you can’t be afraid to stand up for what you deserve. That said, there are some real curveballs that you can receive from an interviewer, usually pertaining to salary. If you’re not as prepared for this portion of the interview, you can feel a bit flustered, lose confidence and slide out of the room feeling defeated.

Let’s arm you with some strong strategies for this segment of the interview so you can prepare appropriately.

1. Pivot from salary talk to non-number talk

The last thing you want to see – at least right away – is the person that's interviewing you writing a salary number on the top right hand corner of your resume. When he does, he’s already putting a label on you that revolves around numbers.

How can we avoid that? Try these conversation pivot points:

  • “Let's talk about the responsibilities of the position.”

  • “The reason that I'm currently looking for a new opportunity is because I believe that I'm undervalued at my current position.”

  • “I have made a habit of investing in myself for many years and in addition to my current job, I have been taking management courses, leadership development seminars and a variety of other things that I believe have now created a much higher value in me as an individual than I'm currently being paid.”

We’re not suggesting you be elusive around salary questions. At the end of the day, you may have to relinquish certain numbers rather than things getting confrontational. However, you can use the ideas that we’ve shared above prior to providing such numbers as well.

2. Talk about responsibilities and challenges more to convey the great investment in you.

Again, salary talk can box you into a single number and you’re so much more than that, aren’t you? So try to steer the conversation toward areas such as:

  • How long the position has been open

  • What the challenges have been in finding the right talent

When a company finds the right individual to fill an important job, it should not be perceived as a cost to the company but rather an investment. See yourself as an investment. Not just a number.

3. Don’t get lured into future possibilities of where you could be in this company before you know where you stand with them in the present day.

It’s easy to be enticed by what you might become when someone paints a picture of bigger raises, promotions, a corner office and more. But be careful. When someone is talking far more about where you could be with the company in a few years versus what your job responsibilities will be today, it could be a smokescreen for a noncompetitive offer.

So at this point of the conversation, we recommend keeping the negotiations going. For example, let’s say the salary they’re offering seems a little low. If it’s not totally out of line and somewhat in the ballpark, at least get an understanding for your peace of mind of when salaries are reviewed within the next six to twelve months. Then get it in writing. I've heard it said that, “the shortest pencil is longer than the longest memory.”

4. Get the full picture of what the employer is offering you.

No matter what a potential employer is offering, whether it’s acceptable or not, you still need the total perspective of what the employer is giving you beyond salary. For example, if you needed to work from home a couple days a week, would they be willing to accommodate? If you were looking to take classes or attend conferences to improve your skill set, would they support you financially on that?

Think about everything else you need besides salary in your new role. A conversation about money can and should actually be about more than just money.

Most organizations are far more flexible in these other areas that don't show up on the reports they have to give upper management and explain why they gave a person 10% or 15% more than the job was agreed to.

How have you handled the salary portion of the interview when it arises? If difficult questions occurred, what were they and were you able to pivot the conversation smoothly and talk about other areas? We’d love to hear your experiences!


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