Handling Salary Discussions: How to Land Just Right!

July 29th, 2013 | Articles, Interviewing, Salary | No Comments »

Evel Knievel

During a job interview, a tactful salary discussion is not always an easy stunt to pull off. It’s a hair-trigger situation which, if broached too early, can send your chances of landing that coveted position careening off into an agonizing gulch of defeat. You need to think of yourself as Evel Knievel – 1970s icon and daredevil extraordinaire – to get things just right.

When he succeeded in landing a death defying jump, he had the timing down to a sublime science. He knew that if he accelerated too early, he risked not having built up enough momentum which could bring him dangerously short of his goal. If he accelerated too much on the other side of the gap, he risked coming in too hard and losing complete control of the motorcycle: chassis, engine, and all. So, if you time everything down to the second and discuss salary on your own terms, you’ll increase your chances of landing the job of your dreams.

Deflecting the Question

Know that your interviewer is probably going to ask you about your salary needs at some point. If you let the interviewer take the reins, you could spin out before you even have a chance to ramp up your full pitch. That’s why you need to deflect the question, like your life depends upon it, until you feel you’ve built up enough momentum so that neither party is willing to turn back.

So, if and when you do get hit by a question about your salary requirements, you just have to remain calm and simply make the minute corrections needed to get the interview back on the right track. Here, are a few potential moves to make:

Steer the conversation back to your skills. Say, “Right now, I don’t want to lock us into a specific number. Really, I’m just looking for us both to determine that I have the right skills – X, Y, and Z – that can help advance the company in the right direction.”

Steer the conversation back to the company. Say, “Before we start quoting figures, let’s make sure I’m the right person for the company. Can you tell me a little bit more about your company culture?”

Either approach, showing off your knowledge of the required skills or posing a strong, open-ended question, can get the interview headed back in a mutually beneficial direction. A detour into a salary discussion too early on puts you both on uneven ground and threatens to prevent you from developing that oh-so-necessary rapport. That way, when the hiring manager is captivated by your skills and personality, you can deftly make your move.

Talking Money

Even when the time is right and you fire up salary discussions, you don’t want to kick it into overdrive like a madman on fire. Take the time in advance to find what the going rates are for someone in your position with your years of experience. If you overshoot the target and come in too fast with an extravagant number, all of your build up may just lead to an even more catastrophic, bone-wrenching fall than if you’d slipped up early on. So, remember that your advanced knowledge of your going rate can keep you from overthrottling at the last second.

Often, it’s best to avoid the whole salary discussion all together. Working with a recruiter can eliminate any salary related gaffs that would otherwise derail your chances. Your recruiter will only present you with positions that meet your salary and benefits requirements, handling all of the negotiations so you can focus on executing the perfect interview wheelie. That way, when you blow away the hiring manager with your skills and land on the other side of the interview without so much as a scratch, your new job will basically be in the bag.

by James Walsh

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