I recently participated in a fantastic Twitter jobchat hosted by Career Builder. The moderator and participants asked questions while several human resource professionals shared their opinions on each topic. An interesting question came up that really had no definitive answer. Is it all right to bring up a position's salary range early on in the interview process? The obvious reason in support of the question include being able to self-select out of the interview process if the range does not meet your expectations. However, I took a more situational approach.
When talking with a recruiter, it is okay to discuss salary ranges before the interview. However, I would not raise the question during a first-round interview with the hiring manager. While this may seem counter-intuitive, there are several reasons to heed this advice:
Practice! Practice! Practice!
As a job hunter, you take the time to send out resumes, research prospective employers and prepare your responses to potential interview questions. The funny thing is that no matter how well you prepare for the interview, it is still easy to make mistakes. I have never walked out of an interview where upon a little introspection, I recognized an oppotunity that I missed to give a better answer, or at least deliver the answer in a more deliberate and thought out fasion. We can learn something from every interview we participate in.The only problem is that interview opportunities are not as plentiful as we would sometimes like. Since we can not dial up an interview anytime we want, it is critical to take advantage of every opportunity you get.
While I probably would not go on an interview that obviously did not align with my long- or short-term goals, if the job picqued my interest enough to accept the interview, then I would use the opportunity to improve my skills so that I am well-prepared when the right interview comes along.
Protect Your Poker Face
Following up on the premise that you should use the interview as an opportunity to practice, you need to be able to keep focused on the job. When you find out that the pay range is either below or above what you expected, it can distract you from giving your best interview.
Imagine you are in an interview. It is going well. Then you learn that the job pays $40,000 when your lower acceptable rate is $48,000. The first thing that races through your mind is, "oh great, I'm wasting my time!" Even if this thought is for an instance, it can play out in how you answer questions throughout the rest of the interview. In poker, they call this sub-conscious phenomenom a "tell". It may not matter so much to you if the employer picks up on your dis-interest. However it can easily impact your ability to practice your best interview. The interview should give you the opportunity to grow but if you do not allow yourself the opportunity to try your best, you will not grow from the inteview experience.
Show the hiring manager how much they need you
The hiring manager already has some interest in you when they bring you in for the interview. They use the interviews to compare and contrast the different candidates and make a decision as to who would best add value to their team. By putting your best foot forward in the interview, the hiring manager may be able to think of other ways you can contribute to the team that would justify paying you more money. This can only work if you showcase your skills first, then discuss money at the end of the process. For example, if you are interviewed for a position that supports one of the organizations simpler processes, but you show that you may be able to efficiently support multiple complex processes while reducing the need for additional headcount, then the hiring manager may be able to push for hiring someone more skilled than they thought they needed.
There is also an unintended benefit for both you and the employer. By packaging your skills first, then discussing money later, you are helping educate the employer about the job market. They learn what they will have to pay to hire people at specific skill levels. Your information, combined with the other job interviewees will give them a more economics-based view of the market. Sure the employer may use salary surveys, but they may not have properly pegged where they needed to pay in the market to get what they need.