The Elephant in the Interview Room

If you talk to people about interviews, what is the one thing that comes up over and over again as a source of worry about how to handle it?  It is not usually worrying about how to represent ourselves, but it usually is about the whole reason we are at the interview in the first place—money.

It is no secret that people are working to make money.  However, it can be hard to stick up for yourself, your goals, and your abilities without feeling like you are coming across money-hungry.

So, what is the best way to make sure you are going to be appropriately compensated but not appear too greedy?

It is best if you prepare yourself for this question, like many other interview questions, ahead of time.  There are some easy ways to direct the interview in the direction that you want it to go in regarding money.  Some of these ways make it seem like the interviewing person has control, but in reality, you were able to steer the conversation about money in your favor.

Know your limits before you get to the interview.  This means that you might have to do some research in order to find out how much other people who have the position you are applying for are making.  Some of this research may be by word of mouth, if you are lucky enough to have resources in the particular field that you are going into.  For those of you who do not have resources in the field that you feel comfortable asking questions about salary, you can do a lot of research online.

Some great places to go are job board websites.

There are even a few websites that specialize in just listing how much people are getting paid for certain jobs all over the country.  This can be really helpful if you are looking at a move across the world and need to know how much they are making in a totally different country.

Once you know how much other people are making, determine your worth.  What is the minimum amount you feel you could sustainably live on, and what is the highest amount that others with similar backgrounds, education, and experience are making?  Once you have those answers, you can develop a range.

The good thing about having a range is that you can leave some of the control up to the interviewing company.  It gives them room to feel like they can negotiate and gives you room to seem like you are reasonable and flexible. This is one example of how you can direct the conversation while giving the illusion that the company you want to work for is in control when they really are not.

Other ways to bring up salary include making sure you ask for them to disclose potential earnings with you during the interview.  You do not want to waste their time, and you certainly do not want to waste your own time going back for additional rounds of interviews if they cannot accommodate you.