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Salary Talk

October 9, 2014

Filed under: Management,observations,Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — admin @ 4:19 pm

Should you discuss salary at a job interview?

My answer is an unequivocal, “No,” although I admit sometimes it’s impossible to avoid.

A recent example from my practice explains why. My client recently graduated from college and was about to go out on his second job interview. (His first landed him a job offer that he turned down because of the location – but that’s a different post)

We were going over possible interview questions and he asked about salary. I gave him my standard answer and we talked about ways to deflect questions.

I explained that the purpose of an interview is to get an offer and once you have an offer that’s when you discuss salary and benefits.

“But what if they just ask directly, how much money I want?” he asked. I suggested he explain that he didn’t know the exact job responsibilities, so he could not estimate what the salary should be. The point is ,that if they have not published a salary range, you don’t want to ask for too little or too much. There are a host of negotiating techniques and strategies at play, but that’s it, in a nutshell.

After the interview he called to say, sure enough, they asked for a salary requirement and were insistent that he offer a number. None of my suggested answers put them off, so he gave them a number.

Guess what, three weeks later, he got a job offer and the salary was exactly number he mentioned. He asked if it would be improper to ask for more and I assured him that it certainly was not out of bounds. We discussed how he should approach the matter, given what he said at the interview and he told me later that he got a small boost, but it made him feel much better about taking the job.

If you want another real world example check out this from Maria Klawe President of Harvey Mudd College at a recent forum on women and pay. She admits that she left $50,000/year on the table because she accepted the job and then asked about salary.

My advice, whether you know the salary range in advance, or not, try not to offer an expected salary or you will always wonder if you left money on the table.

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