Seven Tips for Acing the Million-Dollar Interview
Question-The $ Question
By Debra Feldman
It can spring up near the beginning of an official job interview, or
sneak up before the meeting is about to close. Regardless of the
circumstances, poised executives are always ready to answer the most
important question that surfaces in a serious dialogue between
decision-makers and prospective employees.
Exact phrasing varies but the meaning is clear:
"What will it take for you to join our team?" or
"What is it going to cost to get you here?"
Does the very thought of being in such a situation make your hands
clammy, your heart race, and your stomach churn? Would you prefer any
punishment rather than confront this question? Unfortunately, accepting
a job offer frequently entails negotiating the terms of employment.
Get prepared and save yourself some last minute angst. Here are a few
tips to help you face the inevitable armed with confidence and good
1. Do your homework.
Be prepared with facts and figures to demonstrate your value to the
prospective employer. Know your worth in the market. Research what
comparable positions with similar responsibilities command in your
industry and location.
2. Make it clear that your goal is fairness.
You want to be compensated fairly with what your colleagues are paid for
comparable responsibilities, and you want to be rewarded for superior
3. Show that hiring you is not an expense but a
Prove that you will be able to add to the bottom line through increased
sales, cost reductions, revenue gains, enhanced productivity, etc. Have
tables or charts to illustrate the impact your expertise will have, and
use actual data where available.
4. Never reveal an exact number for your
desired salary or what you're currently making.
Give a range that will allow you more room to negotiate for bonuses,
benefits, time off, etc. because no two jobs are the same and no two
candidates are alike. (See tip # 6 below!).
5. Have a bottom line in mind.
Think about what this opportunity is worth to you. What will you give
up? Is there a necessity, must have, or uncompromising need? Then be
willing to be flexible on the rest. Think about time off vs. salary,
educational opportunities vs. conference attendance, etc.
6. Remember that this should be a win-win for
you and your future employer.
Make sure that they understand that you want this job and you are
confident that if you agree that you're the right choice, together you
can make this happen. Take the focus off the dollars and put it on the
chance to have an impact, find solutions, and move forward.
7. Work this out with your future boss rather
than their HR staff person.
Only your future boss knows what they need and will go to bat to get
this deal together for you. It's their budget -- show them your skills
right from the beginning with your abilities to negotiate for yourself!