Interviewing & Negotiating

If you are invited for an interview you are already seen as a qualified candidate, so the interview is your chance to further convince an employer that you would be a valuable asset to the organization. Consequently, your performance in an interview will be the deciding factor in earning you a job offer. Research, preparation, and practice are the keys to a successful outcome.

Negotiation is the process in which two parties come to an agreement concerning the terms and conditions under which they are willing to do business. Negotiating involves using good communication skills - listening and speaking - as well as the ability to avoid making a false assumption about what the other party wants or is thinking.

See the information below for advice on successfully navigating the negotiation process. Be sure to check out the negotiation resources for helpful resources.

The type of interview you have can vary. Job offers are seldom made after just one interview so you may experience several different types. Keep in mind that each new person you see is meeting you for the first time and in most cases hasn't been briefed on the information you've shared with others. The following are two of the most common types of interviews. For more information, see this article on additional interview types you might encounter:

  • Initial screening Interview: typically a personal 1:1 interview conducted by human or the hiring manager. These interviews are often used as a first round of vetting to determine who the best candidates are to come in for in-person interviews. 
  • In-Person Interview: can be done as a first, second, or even third round of interviewing. Primarily conducted by the hiring manager and others at the company that the position works closely with. They may include series interviews (speaking individually with several people in a row), or a panel interview (speaking with several people as a group). 

Research

The first step in preparing for an interview is to learn as much as you can about the organization, the job, and the interviewer. 

  • Check out the organization's website, their social media presence such as a LinkedIn or Facebook page.
  • Google the organization's name for any recent news articles. 
  • Use your personal network and talk to people to gather additional information.
  • We also offers resources for employment market research, including:
    • Buzzfile.edu: a comprehensive employers-by-major resource.
    • Glassdoor: Search millions of jobs and get the inside scoop on companies with employee reviews, personalized salary tools, and more
    • OneSource: Find both top-line information and in-depth intelligence on industries, companies (both public and private), executives and corporate family structures. 

Preparation

The next step to ensure your interview success is to anticipate questions and prepare to answer them. By preparing ideas in advance you'll avoid fumbling for answers during the interview; instead, you'll come across as poised, focused, and confident! Here are some tips for how to best prepare for an interview:

Prepare questions that you will ask during the interview. Asking questions demonstrates your sincere interest in the position, and is a helpful tool for gathering information you need to determine if this position/company is a good fit. For more help, read 51 Great Questions to Ask in an Interview 

Practice

Practicing your answers aloud can be very helpful because the person who most effectively presents his or her skills is often the most successful in an interview. It's one thing to think about what you are going to say and another thing to actually say it and receive feedback. Review the Guidelines for Practice Interview to learn about the best way to set up practice sessions. 

Look to your network to see if there is someone available to ask you questions. You can also schedule a practice interview with the CEC.

Dress Appropriately

The outfit you choose to wear won't get you the job, but it could limit your chances of getting an offer. An interviewer's attention should be on what you say, not what you are wearing. Check out these resources for further help:

Be Aware of Your Non-Verbal Behaviors

The positive impression you make in an interview is not just determined by what you say and what you wear. The way you behave can also work to help or harm the impression you’re making. Remember these key tips when heading into an interview - over time they will become second nature:

  • A firm handshake conveys energy and enthusiasm non-verbally
  • Maintaining good eye contact shows interest and that you're listening
  • Good posture enhances your confidence
  • Leaning slightly forward when seated indicates interest
  • Speaking with a strong voice level and inflection conveys enthusiasm

While many aspects of the job, such as benefits and start date, may be negotiated, most people are concerned with salary. However, being asked during the interview process "What are you looking for in terms of salary?" is not a signal to begin negotiating. The negotiating actually begins when you have been made a job offer.

Here are 4 steps to take before negotiating:

Acknowledge the offer

  • Thank the employer and express enthusiasm for the offer and the opportunity to work with the organization
  • Request the offer in writing and set up a time to reconnect to discuss it 

Complete your due diligence

  • Confirm in your own mind that the job is a fit with your interests, skills, goals, and values; review these questions to help
  • Ask the employer for the position’s salary range, if not already provided
  • Research your market value and salary ranges for similar positions, industries, company sizes, and geographies

Know where you’ll draw the line

  • Understand what trade-offs you’re willing to make, especially from receiving additional benefits like paid time off, sick time, employee discounts, flexible schedules, options for working remotely, etc. 
  • Know the minimum compensation you can or will accept
  • Consider these factors in your review of the offer 

Schedule an in-person meeting with your prospective supervisor 

  • It is preferable to meet directly with the hiring manager, but some companies may require you to negotiate with HR
  • Set an expectation of a positive win-win outcome 

Remember, this process is meant to foster a discussion. Approach this process with a flexible mindset and avoid making assumptions about what you think the company is thinking/going to say. Here are 6 strategies to use during the negotiation: 

  1. Approach the discussion with openness, honesty, and flexibility; this is a chance to build a relationship - not go through an adversarial contest
  2. Reiterate your enthusiasm for the offer and the opportunity to contribute to the organization; by emphasizing the positives you’re more likely to gain support 
  3. Clarify the position and it’s responsibilities; make sure you and the employer are on the same page about the role, tasks, and expectations for this position
  4. State up front all the issues you’d like to discuss; avoid surprises and address the issues one by one in order of priority 
  5. Focus negotiations strictly on the situation at hand; emphasize your skills, experiences, and industry trends as they apply to the new position and the organization’s needs
  6. Suggest alternatives on important issues; know where to compromise, keep a positive tone regardless of the outcome, and if negotiations get stuck try asking “how can we make this work?”

Once you’ve reached an agreement, request confirmation of new terms in writing, as well as any time you’ve asked for to review the updated offer. It can also be helpful to once more reiterate your interest in the position and joining the organization. Review the research and questions you worked on before the negotiations, and be sure to provide your final decision by the agreed deadline. 

Preparation

Practice

InterviewStream is the premier provider of video interviewing technology. You can complete pre-recorded video mock interviews that are tailored to help you prepare for your future. 

To create your account: Visit this page and click Log in at the top right of the screen. To register as a new user click Register, enter your registration information and click Register. View the User Guide for further help. 
 

Salary/Market Research

Tips/Advice

A coach can help you develop your interview skills, including doing a practice interview with you and critiquing your performance afterward. Similarly, when you prepare and practice you can improve your negotiation skills as well. View this page to learn how to set up an appointment with a CEC career coach.