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How to handle compensation on a job interview

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You are going for that next level in your career, and you've landed an interview with a company you've always wanted to work for. Being that it's the next level, you are unsure about how to have a conversation with this prospective employer regarding salary expectations, etc. Well, here are a few tips to help you manage that part of the process. It's important that you don't occur as someone who's main interest in the job is the level or pay. At the same token, you want companies to know that you are knowledgeable about compensation and expect their offer to be one with integrity.

1) Never be the first to mention salary. Do your homework, which means have some questions to ask, know about the company and how they're doing, what their stock price is currently, and any events about them that is currently in the media. However, do not be the first one to ask about or discuss salary.

2) When you are asked about salary, at first you want to reply with a simple statement that speaks to fairness, but that does not provide numbers. For example, "I expect to be compensated fairly based on my skills and experience." If you are put in a situation where the company just really wants you to provide them with a salary requirement or expectation, never give a single number. Make sure you do your research on salaries in the field. You always want to provide them with a range (i.e. $55,000 - $65,000). I would not suggest making the range broader than a span of $10,000.

3) If or when the company makes you an offer, you want to ask them some questions. Ask them what their pay philosophy is (i.e. do they have salary ranges, or bands, etc.). If they utilize salary ranges, ask them what the range is for the job so that you can better understand where you would be positioned within that range based on their offer. The way that salary ranges are typically used, a person with little or no experience would be paid toward the lower end of a salary range, while a very skilled, seasoned person would be paid toward the upper end of the range. Someone who is fully competent in a particular job would be paid around the middle of the range, which might typically be referred to as the 50th percentile. Other factors that might warrant someone to be paid toward the upper end of the range is that they might have additional qualifications that aren't actually required for the job, but that will add value (i.e. someone with a PhD in a job that only requires a Master's Degree).

Just incorporating these simple tips into the interview and negotiating process can make a world of difference when it comes to compensation as well as the overall package that a prospective employer offers you.

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