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Can We Work the Money Out?

Most people think that these are some of the most difficult questions to deal with in the interviewing process. Frankly, though, if all of the other questions about being able to do the job, being liked, and being a risk are answered, even reasonably well, these questions are very easy to deal with. In fact, the answers to these questions are merely an outgrowth of all of the previous ones. The more an organization would like to hire you and the more you would like to go to work for them, the easier it is to work out the money. So, the better you sell yourself and the more desirable you are to an organization, the more likely it is to compensate you fairly. We will get into the final economic negotiations at the end of this chapter, but here are some of the questions that you're going to get asked that relate to money and compensation.

What are you currently earning? Or, what have you been earning most recently?

This is a pretty simple question and requires a really simple answer. Simply share with the hiring or interviewing authority exactly what you have been earning or presently are earning. Whatever you do, don't inflate the numbers. Over the years, I have had a number of employers ask this question during the interviewing process, and then after a person is hired, call the previous employer to verify earnings—only to find out that the candidate lied and is therefore terminated. If you were in sales, do not extrapolate the best month that you ever had and annualize it. If you are asked for a salary history, give it accurately. Some interviewing processes require the candidate to provide previous W2s.

What kind of money would you like to earn?

Hopefully, you will have some idea about the salary range for the position that you are interviewing for. However, your stock answer in a situation like this is, "Well, I'd like earn as much as I can commensurate with the service that I give. I am just as interested in a fulfilling and challenging position as I am in the money I want to earn. I have found that if the position is right for me, and I am right for the company that I'm going to go work for, the money is usually going to take care of itself. What kind of money for this position did your organization have in mind?"

Always, always, always discuss money along with the relationship it has to your contribution to the job. What this communicates is that you were just as interested in doing a good job as you are interested in the money you will receive. People who focus on money too much in the interviewing situation without bridging its relationship with the job, the quality of work, and the challenge don't do themselves any favors. Just remember: Always discuss money in relationship to the job that needs to be done.

You have been making $XXX,XXX, and the money that is associated with this position is significantly less. How do we know that you will be happy?

In this situation, you have to find out exactly how much of a difference there is between what you have been making and what this particular position pays. If you've been out of work for any amount of time, the truth is at this point you are making absolutely nothing.

No matter what the difference between what you have earned in the past and what the company is paying, your answer to this question needs to be something like, "Well, I realize there is a difference between what I have made (or what I am making now) and this position. However, I have found that if the opportunity is right and I am able to perform at my best, the difference in the money isn't as important as the quality of the job and the opportunity."

The idea behind this whole interviewing process is to get a job offer. Just because you get a job offer doesn't mean you have to accept it. But your goal is to get an organization to make you an offer. If you communicate the idea that there is going to be a problem with the money it can pay you and what you will accept, you run the risk of eliminating yourself before you ever get to the offer stage.

Any questions you get asked about money during the interviewing process before you get to the final offer stages need to be handled gracefully, but gracefully postponed until the final offer stages. Once you get to that stage, you have established yourself and the value you can bring to the organization. The greater the value you establish for yourself, the more money you will be able to negotiate.

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