It’s guaranteed that during the job interview, you’ll be asked these two questions:
- “What is your current compensation?”
- “What are your salary expectations for this position?”
How should you answer each question? What should you ask about compensation?
To best answer these questions you need to understand that compensation is based on three factors: The value of what you offer the hiring organization, the function and level you are to fill, and what your peers are paid. On the other hand, the hiring manager must answer the question, “What and how is this candidate going to contribute to my success short term and provide leadership longer term?” So you need to first understand what is expected of you in this job and secondly, how much value you contribute to the overall success of the department or business.
The hiring organization is asking, “What’s the result we must have from this function and how much do I have to pay to get it”. So if your skills meet or exceed what they’re looking for, and their need is great, your negotiating position is strong. If, on the other hand, these skills can be found with most other candidates and you’re not the main contributor, your negotiating position is weaker.
You might want to answer the second question about salary expectations, by saying, “The answer is predicated on what your expectations are for results in the first year.” This leads us to the questions of what you need to know from the hiring manager.
Questions you need to ask first – Every manager has a vision of what results he or she would like to achieve. By tapping into that vision, you’ll better understand the value of the position for which you are interviewing. Questions like:
- “What are the objectives that I must achieve over the first 6 to 12 months?”
- “What do you want for this function to achieve over the following 2 to 5 years?
- How is compensation linked to performance?”
Few candidates ever ask these kinds of questions. These questions fix in the mind of the hiring manager your interest in helping to achieve the results he or she wants. You become the manager’s best friend. You’ll position yourself as dedicated to the organization’s goals.
Here’s why this strategy works: You’re establishing your value before proposing your pay. Once you discuss compensation you can ask clarifying questions, like:
- ‘What’s the salary range for this position, the mid-point and where do you see my value?”
- “How often are performance reviews? Can it be accelerated with outstanding performance?”
- “How does the incentive compensation system work? Who is eligible for incentives? How are incentives formulated?”
Final note: Convince the hiring manager that you’re committed to the results he’s after. If you’re only seen as interested in the money, your toast!
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