The key to handling questions about compensation
is not to bring up the subject in a first interview.
In fact, you need to avoid bringing up the subject yourself and allow the
interviewer to open this
topic of discussion. Many new graduates and more experienced people as well
think that it is
important to try and control the discussion about salary and benefits. That
eagerness to find
out what is being offered can be misinterpreted by an interviewer.
In order to have the strongest position for discussing salary expectations, you
need to build your
case (and buyer interest) by establishing a firm foundation of mutual interest.
This is especially
important if you are seeking an entry-level position. The interviewer must see
you as a viable
candidate for the position he/she is looking to fill. If you broach the subject
without first having kindled interest in the employer's mind, your negotiating
position will be
You first need to impress the interviewer with your personal presentation to the
extent that he/
she starts to see you as a potential employee and the subject of compensation
naturally as a result of that interest. You cultivate that "desire to buy" by
beforehand what you are going to say about your academic progress, the research
did into the employer's company or industry, the skills you have learned in
summer or night
jobs and your enthusiasm and desire to join a progressive firm and make your
Identify your skills and strengths and express them to them interviewer. Tell
how your hard work and dedication will be of benefit to the company. Give
how you learned job skills like customer service, problem-solving, dealing with
working well with others. If you have practiced presenting yourself through
friends or family, you will have a better focus on what you want to say.
If you have presented yourself well, the interviewer will be motivated to ask
you what you
are looking for in terms of a salary. There are several ways to respond to this
without boxing yourself into a particular figure:
Question: " What sort of salary do you expect? "
1. " I'm very interested in your company, I wonder if you would share with
me the normal range for starting? "
2. " It is important that I join a good company, I'm sure we could agree on a
fair salary. What do you
think I should expect? "
3. " It sounds like a great opportunity. What range would
you have in mind for someone like me? "
The key point is to turn the issue back to the interviewer in order to
know what range he/she
has in mind. To do this you answer the question
by reinforcing your interest in the company
and ask an open-ended question (one which can't be answered by a "yes" or a "no"
) to keep
the dialogue going. At this point the interviewer will usually mention a range
or even a
specific figure. Find out when the first salary review date is if the figure
seems too low. Many
companies hire at a low salary and then offer a substantial increase at the time
of a first
review. Your personal performance and how successfully you have progressed in
learning curve will often affect the amount of the increase. Ask about how
and reward performance. Ask about employee incentive programs offered in
such as bonuses, quarterly/semi-annual/yearly profit-sharing and when employees
eligible for participation in these benefits. Sometimes companies will pay lower
but offer a group profit-share or other tangible incentive which makes the
Don't make the mistake of asking for a high starting salary thinking that you
should start high
and then accept something lower on the scale in the course of negotiations. If
are unrealistic then you may lose out on a good opportunity. On the other hand,
yourself too low as it may take some time to work your way up to a better
salary. Do some
research on what salaries are being paid by visiting recruiter sites, job boards
to your campus placement coordinator to see what certain jobs are paying. If you
see a job
advertised requiring say 1-2 years of working experience, deduct about 15%
from the low end
of the salary scale to arrive at a reasonable entry-level figure.
Do your research to learn what similar positions are paying at the junior end of
experience scale. You will be better equipped to know if you are being offered a
salary when you meet with a potential employer.
Remember that salary isn't everything, and that people starting out tend to make
progress in the first 6-18 months of their work experience. A lot of it has to
do with how
well you perform and create value for your employer.