Ask the Recruiter – November 2018

How can I make sure that the company I am interviewing for is the right one for me?

It is important to see the interview as a two-way conversation – it is your opportunity to sell yourself, and the company’s opportunity to reciprocate.

Before any interview I would suggest doing some research. Start by looking at reviews on Glassdoor and Google. These should not be fully relied upon, but you can pick up on any repeat comments or trends, ready to ask about them during the interview process. You can back these up by taking references from former employees of the company – I have noted the imbalance between most companies taking references but few prospective employees doing so! It is easy to track ex-employees down through Linked-In etc.

I would also try and get a sense of the company culture through the website and the person interviewing you. Does the company make an effort to give you a transparent insight or not? If it is the latter, it should flag a concern that they might view employees as commodities rather than people!

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about whatever aspects of the company that you want to hear about during the interview. These should include how any commission or bonuses work. The interviewer should be prepared to be open and, if not, you can draw your own conclusions from their approach.

Make sure you meet some potential peers at the company rather than just the management/senior management team. This may be through a formal meeting or going for drinks etc and will give you an idea of what the culture is like.

Finally, think about how straightforward the interview process is. If it moves quickly, is clearly set out and decisive it suggests that the company has a clear vision, working practices and decision making process. If there are delays, hesitations and a lack of clarity then perhaps the company has a muddled approach to management.

With my annual appraisal approaching, what is the best way to negotiate a good pay rise?

One of the most important aspects of negotiating is to be able to understand the thought process, flexibility and constraints of the person that you are negotiating with. It is also important to make sure that what you are asking for is realistic.

As first port of call I would look at the company performance, plus that of your team and you as an individual. Logically a pay rise should mean that you are now delivering more for the company (i.e. are more productive) than you were at your last review. How has the company performed during this period – has its revenue and/or profit increased? How has your team performed – again, has there been an improvement? Likewise, how have you done? Knowing these things will give you an understanding of not only whether you are due a pay rise, but whether there is the money to award one.

Next you should build your case for how much more you will offer between now and your next review? How will you continue to improve and offer more to the company? Can you back it up with any facts and figures?

Remember that when negotiating you should start at a higher point than your expected outcome. Likewise it is likely that your line manager will offer you a little below the maximum they possibly could. Start high and plan to meet in the middle.

If you are disappointed with the financial settlement, think about how else you could add value for yourself. Perhaps a bonus could be added in based upon a certain level of performance, or a guaranteed further increase in salary upon meeting particular milestones. Also you could ask for additional paid leave, lighter hours, better benefits or pension payments in lieu of salary.


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