3 Research-Backed Ways to Better Negotiate Your Starting Salary

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Finally you’ve reached the stage in a lengthy interview process where you are sitting opposite the person who has the authority to offer you the job that you want. And there it is…the question you have been longing to hear: “When can you start?” The only detail left to settle is the salary.

Based upon some research by Michelle Marks and Crystal Harold published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior, there are 3 things that you should know:

1. Almost 50% of interviewees accept the salary that is offered without a question.
2. Those who do negotiate get paid more.
3. Most interviewers expect to negotiate salary.

If you are afraid that, if you negotiate your starting salary, you might lose the job, there is actually little risk…and think of the money you could be turning down without trying for more.

Behavior based interviewing experts have some good advice on how you can approach and take advantage of the moment in your interview where salary is discussed. Here are their tips:

• Be Ready.
First believe that you have a right to ask for more. Then think through how you are going to ask for it. Anticipate how your interviewer might respond and be prepared with answers that you have practiced. State simply why you think you deserve more than the first offer and make your case with a reasonable story that explains why.

• Be Creative.
The best negotiators have a clear idea of alternatives. If the budget is fixed and the interviewer can offer you no more, have other terms in mind. Maybe your interviewer can offer more flexible hours, or the ability to telecommute one or two days per week, or more vacation time, or whatever you might value that has no real cost in dollars.

• Be Gracious.
Do not push too hard.  If you have asked for a larger salary and been refused and if you have asked for alternative benefits and been refused, it’s time to yield. If you still want the job, accept the offer and be gracious. There is, however, a way to leave the door open for future increases. You can certainly ask your new employer what you would need to do in the first year to warrant a raise in salary. Then you will have some specific goals to work toward and can refer back to the conversation in subsequent performance reviews.

Why Personality Tests and Hiring Do Not Mix

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Hiring the right job candidates is critical to the success of a fast growing business. Hiring the wrong folks-ones who are unwilling or unable to perform well on the job-drags down the entire organization. Performance lags, motivation is lost and increasingly poor business results reflect employee disengagement and sub-standard performance.

Would it help to know a candidate’s personality type before making the hiring decision? Behavior based interviewing experts say “no” for the following reasons:

1. Using personality tests like the well-known Myers-Briggs is an unethical use of the instrument. Forcing candidates to submit to this kind of assessment is an invasion of privacy in the sense that you are peering into a part of their lives without really giving them an option to refuse. You are asking them to take the test or disengage from the interviewing process. Results of this kind of assessment should be owned by the test taker, not by an interviewer.

2. Personality type does not predict how well a candidate might perform on the job; it only gives an indication of how the candidate might approach the job. These assessments were never intended to screen job seekers for on-the-job effectiveness.

3. Psychological instruments are very limited in their scope and accuracy. They test a person at a particular point in their development. People change with time and experience. An employee may react one way in one situation but not in another situation. Depending upon the context, one person may act completely differently when you factor in conditions such as environment, stress, etc.

The solution? Do not mix personality tests with hiring. They will not serve your purpose of selecting the best candidates for the job. Interview the old-fashioned way. There are no shortcuts to uncovering a job seeker’s experience, character, motivation and suitability. Use your best behavior-based interviewing techniques…question, listen, and probe in order to truly evaluate interviewees.

Address Hiring Your Mistakes Early

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50%.

The statistics are discouraging. Research by interviewing skills training experts reveals that almost 50% of new hires fail before they reach their second year on the job…that’s one in two! And it seems that the hiring organizations are unhappy, too, with new hire decisions they have made at the very same rate.

How can you as hiring manager attack this problem? The obvious way is to improve the interviewing process so that your hiring staff can make better predictions about who will succeed and who will fail. On the other end, however, you need to diminish the negative impact on the organization when you identify a “bad” hire. The only way to cut your losses is to admit your mistakes early and try to fill the slot with someone who is more likely to be engaged, productive and retained.

Here are four of the reasons that it makes to ensure that new employees either improve or move on:

1. The 6-month Milestone: If, after six months on the job, they are still performing sub-par, they are not likely to improve.

2. Customer-Facing Jobs Raise the Bar: If they are customer-facing, poor employees reflect negatively on the company as a whole.

3. Time Sinks: Weak hires drain resources in terms of extra time from managers and extra time in training rather than time on the job.

4. Motivation: There is a de-motivating effect on co-workers. Not only do other employees begin to resent the time and attention spent on low-performing team members, but they also lose heart when the bar for success on the job is set lower and lower without any repercussions.

Once you have spotted a weak-hire, what are your options for letting them go? Some companies have experimented with rather innovative approaches, such as paying them to leave after six months or offering a decent reference and a bonus for leaving before the year is out. But here are three more standard ways to identify and then release a bad hire:

1. Rigorous and extensive onboarding. Use new employee orientation and training to review an employee’s fitness for the job, the team and the company. Assessments and simulations administered throughout the onboarding process will predict behavior once in the work force.

2. Establish a probationary period that is overseen by HR. The HR department is more likely to be objective in its assessment of performance than the manager involved who has a stake in keeping the employee aboard to complete the team.

3. Make it possible for unhappy employees to leave without penalty. Even though you as the hiring manager may feel they are performing adequately, if the employee feels they are not suited to the job, it is better they leave soon and open the slot for someone more engaged and satisfied with the situation.

How to Find the Right Company

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Interviewing skills training teaches interviewers how to find and hire the best candidates. Participants learn all sorts of models and questions that help to sort the good from the bad, the true from the false, and the strong from the weak.

There are also training programs that teach job candidates how to interview well…how to put their best foot forward and how to prepare for difficult questions. But in both of these approaches, there is often a huge oversight. Many times the importance of cultural fit is ignored or overlooked. Yet getting matched with a company that suits your working style preference is critical to your long-term job satisfaction.

Let’s say you are a computer wizard who wants to work in a first class high tech company. Both Apple and Microsoft are interested. Which would suit you best? Both are great organizations but this is the time to consider cultural fit. Assuming all other factors are equal, think about the very different cultures that exist at both organizations. Then think about the way you like to work. Do you prefer a free-wheeling atmosphere or would you rather have a more predictable structure to your work environment? What kind of team encourages your best efforts…one made up of individuals who like working more on their own or of team members who are more collaborative? If you make a choice of a culture that does not fit with your personality and work style, you could be miserable.

The solution is to do a personal assessment…either on your own or using one of the many style surveys available today. Are you a dreamer or a technician? Do you thrive on working with others or on your own? Are you better off with specific schedules and tasks or with more latitude on what and when you deliver? Take inventory of your own personality style so you have a clear sense of how and what you do best.

Once you have an objective view of how you work most effectively and what kind of environment encourages your best effort, then take careful stock of the organization and the team you consider joining. Is it hierarchical or flat in structure? Is the environment more traditional or flexible? Is the focus more on individual achievement or team success?

Finding the right cultural match can truly make the difference between job misery and job satisfaction.