Content of the material
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- Strategic Approaches to Tough Questions
- Do Your Research
- Be Careful About Your Wording
- Timing Is Everything
- Template for requesting a job offer extension
- How to ask about benefits work-life balance
- Bring it up softly
- Ask a more granular question to gain an understanding of schedule
- Ask the interviewer
- Establish your work-life boundaries
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Strategic Approaches to Tough Questions
The key to this balancing act comes down to tact. You can’t simply march into the interview and demand to know how much money and vacation time you’ll get. Instead, you need to approach these topics with diplomacy and finesse.
Here are few things for you to do to set up tactful, effective questions about salary or benefits:
Do Your Research
Never, ever ask a question without having established background knowledge on the topic. Do independent research on the issues you care about. This helps you frame your specific questions and shows the interviewer you have done some proactive homework on the organization. Moreover, research gives you ammunition to have an informed and honest conversation with the interviewer about these topics.
Look on sites like Glassdoor and Comparably to get a sense of the company’s salary range and benefit structures. If possible, connect with existing employees on LinkedIn and ask them about the organization’s culture.
At the very least, make sure you reread the job description and review the company website. It’s possible that this research will give you all the information you need so that you avoid having to ask an awkward interview question altogether!
Be Careful About Your Wording
There’s always more than one way to phrase a question. Style and approach help you get the information you want. Choose your words and phrasing carefully when asking about what an employer will do for you.
Let’s dig into this. Sometimes using specific words can make all the difference. If you’re asking about salary, use the word “compensation” rather than “money and ask for a range rather than a specific number. Likewise, if you want to find out about work-life balance, it may be more useful to approach the topic in terms of “office culture.”
Timing Is Everything
There’s a right time and a wrong time to ask about compensation. I already mentioned the wrong time (as soon as you walk in the room.) The right time is generally after you’ve captured the interviewer’s interest by showing them you are a good fit for the job. Focus first on selling yourself and wait for the right opportunity to ask about benefits.
Look for strong signs of interest from the interviewer before broaching the topic of salary. Questions like “When can you start?” or “Can you provide references?” are generally a sign that an offer may be in the cards. This is when you have leverage to push the interviewer for more information about benefits.
Template for requesting a job offer extension
If you plan to email the hiring manager to ask for more time to consider a job offer, here is a template you can use:
Subject Line: [Your Name – Position Title] – Job Offer
Dear [Hiring Manager’s Name],
[Thank the hiring manager for the offer. It’s important that they know you’re grateful for the offer and you want to seriously consider it. State your specific reason for asking for time to consider the offer and the date you’d like to give your response by. If you have any questions about the offer, you can ask them or request a phone call to discuss them in detail.]
[Thank the hiring manager again for the opportunity.If you need to request the hiring manager to contact you to discuss details, offer some times that would work for you. You can write, ‘You can reach me by phone at 555-555-5555 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.’]
[Use a professional closing, like ‘Sincerely,’ or ‘Regards,’]
[Your Name][Your Phone Number][Your Email Address]
How to ask about benefits work-life balance
Bring it up softly
“Can you tell a bit about the internal culture in your organization?”
This is, admittedly, a broad question but the interviewer’s response will tell you a lot about the organization’s expectations for employees. An organization with a highly competitive internal culture probably means long hours in the office. A company that describes itself as “family-friendly” or “laid back” is generally going to be more generous in terms of work-life balance.
Ask a more granular question to gain an understanding of schedule
“If I were to be offered the job, what would my average day / average week look like?”
This is a bit more pointed than the previous prompt, and will give you a better sense of the employer’s expectations for your specific role. Again, this will illuminate general schedule for your work life.
Ask the interviewer
“What do you like best about working for this company?”
Get the interviewer talking about their own experience in the organization. Interviewers are people too, and they may share some of the office perks that wouldn’t come up in a more direct question.
Establish your work-life boundaries
“Having dinner with my family is important to me. Would it be possible to start my workday at 7:30am so that I can leave, most days, by 4pm?”
Again, it’s usually best to reserve these very specific questions until later in the interviewing process, when you have the most leverage with the employer. Even then, the best way to structure the question is to include a solution as part of of the query. This way, you don’t put the pressure on the employer to figure out how to accommodate your needs; instead you’re proactively offering a reasonable fix, making it easier for the interviewer to say “yes.”
- Don’t contact someone about professional matters through their personal phone number, email or social media accounts unless they’ve told you it’s alright to do so.
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- Avoid begging or groveling if you’re not offered the job right away. This may annoy the employer and make you come across as needy.
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