Refine your interview “bargaining” tactics

Morgan McKinley November 15, 2017 3 mins read

Due to fact they have no work experience, recent college graduates may have a hard time bringing up the topic of wages during job interviews.

Unsure of where to start, they may easily find themselves stammering or lost for words—even completely in the dark on how to broach the subject. So, how exactly can college students approach this delicate matter?

Ask questions

As a job seeker, there are certain tricks of the trade to grasp before bargaining for wages with an employer. The first is to understand how much your prospective bosses are able to give. The key to this is asking questions—keep them talking and milk them for as much information as possible. After a period of conversation, the interviewer will ask the applicant: “Do you have any questions?”

The applicant can then respond: “Large companies such as yours usually have a certain pay structure. Can you tell me a little about it?” In most cases the interviewer will then give a brief introduction. If their response is too brief, the applicant can follow up with:

  • How do your wages usually match up with those of other companies in the same industry?
  • Or apart from wages, what other type of incentives, benefits and opportunities for training do you offer? How much will wages increase after the trial period?

With this information, your knowledge of remuneration in the industry should have a relatively solid footing.

The second step is to use this information to formulate your own expected wages. If you still feel uncomfortable proposing a figure yourself, you can always toss the ball back in their court and ask:

  • It would be great if you could offer some guidance: With my education and experience, and from what you have learned about me during this interview, where would I fit in the company’s pay structure?

The interviewer will then reveal to you what should be an appropriate wage.

Outflanking your way to a higher salary

If you’re not happy with the prospective employer’s initial offer, you can try to use an exploratory or probing technique in an attempt to win yourself a slightly higher wage by talking things over. For example, you can say: “As far as work is concerned, I view opportunity for future development as more important than remuneration. That being said, I still have to meet my basic living expenses. If it is not too difficult, would it possible to offer a slightly higher wage?” Pay attention to the interviewer’s tone: If you detect flexibility, proceed with the reasons why you justify the more generous compensation. If the interviewer holds firm, you can compromise with him and see if it is possible to shorten the trial period.

Going for the extras

Aside from formal wages, many companies offer incentives, benefits and other forms of additional remuneration. The applicant should be gutsy but tactful in their pursuit of these extras—go for them but don’t overdo it. As insurance, get the interviewer to write the particulars such as wages, probation period and work hours into the letter of acceptance itself. In this way you can avoid uncomfortable disputes down the line.

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