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Important issues to keep in mind

1. Don’t forget why you are there

The interview is going well and the interviewer is responsive and friendly. Many jobs are lost at this point because the person being interviewed becomes so comfortable and relaxed that they reveal far too much. The interviewer is not your friend and it is not appropriate to share personal information, problems, health issues, doubts or fears. Companies don’t want people who bring their problems to work.

2. Meet everyone

If someone other than the person you will be working for is the interviewer and the company seems interested in you, ask if it would be possible to meet the person you would be working for. That person will be extremely important to your liking or disliking the job so check them out.

If your future manager is interviewing you and you sense he or she may be interested in bringing you into the company, ask if you will be working in a team and if it possible to meet some of the team members. When you do, ask them some questions about their jobs and how the department works. This is important for three reasons:

  • You are going to work closely with these people. Do you want to?
  • You will get some insight into the company culture. Even if they don’t say anything overtly negative, you will probably be able to tell from their answers whether they are happy working for the company and with each other.
  • In today’s economy, companies don’t usually hire new people until they truly have to. Companies are often under-staffed, particularly if someone has left. The team will be anxious to bring in someone new to share the workload. If they like you, they will pressure the manager to hire you. That makes his or her decision easier - it’s good to have friends on the ‘inside’!

3. Emphasize how quickly you learn rather than how ‘willing’ you are to learn.

Even in very large companies with established training programs, most of the training in English-speaking companies is ‘on the job’. Someone in the department will have to help train you in addition to their regular work. They are looking for someone who can quickly become independent and productive.


4. Don’t discuss money until you've been offered the job.

For entry-level positions, the salary is sometimes stated in the ad so you can decide whether it is acceptable or not. After the job offer you can ask about benefits that may influence your decision.

If the salary is not stated, it is especially important not to discuss it until they offer you the position. Here’s why:

The interview should focus on whether you're right for the job. Interviewers may bring up money to see how much you are expecting. They don’t want to waste their time if it isn’t close to what they want to offer, but it is in your best interest to delay the money question until they are ready to hire you.

By the first interview, the employer hasn’t invested much time in you or decided they want you – not a strong bargaining position for you. If they ask you for a number and you give them one that is too high, you will eliminate yourself. If it is lower than they expect, they will wonder why you are a bargain and may decide you aren’t worth what they thought you were. Many companies have a pay range for a particular position and companies seldom pay more than they have to.

How to avoid discussing money too soon:

If you are asked about salary early in the initial interview, tell the interviewer you really don’t know enough about the position yet to be able to judge what it is worth. Then start asking questions about the job responsibilities. The salary question is often a test and they may drop the subject.

You can also explain that you are looking for a good fit with opportunities for advancement. You can again ask a question about some aspect of the position and steer the conversation back to your qualifications.

If the interviewer persists, here are some options:

  • Tell them that you are confident that a leading company like theirs will offer a competitive salary. Then ask what they would like to know about your qualifications.
  • Use the knowledge you gained in your research on one of the many online sources for salaries paid for similar positions and give them a salary range that is on the higher end of what you think the job will pay. “I know that the industry average for this type of position is between ____ and ____ but I will have a better idea when I know more about the job and benefits. Of course, I’m willing to be flexible based on the opportunity.”

Once everyone is convinced you are the right person for the job, you are in a much better position to negotiate compensation.