Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, July 21, 2023

Career Corner: Nail the compensation question during first interview

When you’re interviewing for a job, a company might want to meet with you from two to 10 times before making a final decision. But through all of these interviews, it could be argued that one of the most important conversations happens in the very first interview.

The first interview might not seem too significant at the time. Typically conducted by a recruiter who works for the company, that conversation may feel like a checklist. The recruiter will ask straight-forward questions such as why you’re interested in the job and when you’d be available to start working.

Then, the recruiter might ask how much money you currently make or how much money you’d like to make. The question can sound reasonable, but answering it could hurt you.

For salaried roles, companies typically have broad salary ranges. This allows the company to pay more or less based on factors such as experience. It also allows the company to pay less if it knows the candidate currently makes less.

In other words, if your current salary is low and you share it, the company is not incentivized to pay competitively. This can happen even if your market rate is higher.

Conversely, you could eliminate yourself from the consideration set before the company gets to know you if you are highly paid today. In some cases, a company cannot increase the pay beyond its existing budget. In others, it can. The only way to find out is to make it all the way through the process.

Rather than disclose your current pay, ask the recruiter if they are willing to share the pay range for the role. In most cases, this request is no problem. When it happens, you can simply share that you are (or are not) in the same general ballpark.

In the meantime, research what the company pays on your own. Look on websites such as Glassdoor.com, on which you can look up pay by title and company. Glassdoor shares base pay and bonus pay information for the positions it reports on.

Approaching salary negotiation this way can reduce the risk of being underpaid in the future.

Most companies also are beginning to realize this technique of asking for salary is not entirely fair, and laws around salary disclosure have evolved over the past 10 years. These changes, such as requiring the company to disclose the salary in certain states, are in place to help make the workplace fair.

This approach likely won’t work if you find yourself working with an external placement firm. They very often have a rule that you must disclose your salary before you meet the company.

Do your homework. Find out your worth. Practice your answers to salary questions and be ready for your first interview.

Angela Copeland, a leadership and career expert, can be reached at www.angelacopeland.com