Interviewing is no walk in the park for most of us. Between the nerves and the need to impress the person on the other side of the table (or on the other end of the phone), it can be hard to stay in control of the situation — but it’s important that you do!
You have to remember you are interviewing the person and company just as much as they are interviewing you. By doing your homework ahead of time, you’ll be able to start off with the upper hand. Some things you can do ahead of time:
- Look into the company culture and check out reviews on Glassdoor (a fantastic resource that not only gives you salary and job information, but reviews from employees and how the interview process went for candidates who applied previously).
- Have a number in mind when it comes to salary. Know your worth, vina!
- Be ready to ask them questions about their culture and future as a company, and how they see you fitting into the mix.
So, now you’ve done your homework and it’s time for the phone or in-person interview. How do you stay in control?
For starters, don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer why they were interested in speaking with you about the position. Say something like, “What about my resume interested you?” or “What about my background caught your eye?” This will help set you up as a power player for the interview.
It will also prompt the interviewer to answer with specific skills that are likely needed, which in turn prompts you to respond with a confirmation statement, acknowledging they have a solid understanding of your background/skills.
Asking those questions in the beginning leads straight into the thing no one wants to talk about, but it’s important to discuss immediately: salary. I’m going to be frank — it’s important to get this out of the way as quickly as possible because no one wants their time wasted — not you, and most certainly not your interviewer. It’s not a fun dance, but a necessary one. You can start by saying simply, “What salary do you have budgeted for this role? I’d like to make sure we’re on the same page.”
If they come back with a range, awesome. If it’s in your desired range, that’s even better! But don’t be surprised if they try to dodge the question or tell you they cannot disclose that information yet. If they turn it back around on you by asking you what you currently make, you don’t have to tell them (in fact, it’s a law in several states that employers can’t ask prospective employees their current salary). Be polite and firm. You can say “my previous employers have always considered that to be confidential information…” and add one of the following to the end of that statement:
- “…but I’m open to your thoughts on this because I believe you will be consistent with the current market.”
- “…but I’m open and somewhat flexible as I appreciate the opportunity to add value. Can you share how you value this position and what the budget is for the role?”
The idea here is to be polite, firm, and show your genuine interest in the opportunity. After all, you’re interviewing each other for a reason!
Another way to stay in control is to remind them that they called you. Ask them questions that reflect on your skills. “Can you tell me what a typical week looks like in this position?” or “what kind of projects will I be working on for your company?”
Last but certainly not least, be transparent about the fact you’re interviewing with other companies. It’s not something that should hinder your chances for landing the job, but rather help give you an advantage. You can simply tell the interviewer that you are speaking with other companies and you’d love to continue the conversation, but make sure you ask when you’ll hear back from them. If they don’t give you a definite time frame, don’t be afraid to request one. You don’t want to hang out forever waiting to hear back, especially if other opportunities arise in the meantime.