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Interviewing & Job Hunting Questions

As an employer, how do I handle the toughest interview question-compensation?

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When it comes to interviewing, both construction employers and executive job seekers consider the money question the toughest question to manage.

What employers can do

Interviewing construction executives is a challenge for any employer. Executive job seekers are usually experienced at interviewing subordinates, and at being interviewed by clients. They understand that the wrong answer to the money question could either sell them short, or terminate the interview entirely. Experienced executive job seekers may defer their answer until late in the interviewing process, or even refuse to mention a figure at all. Some may simply ask the employer to offer what the position pays or what they perceive the executives value to the firm will be. So how can an employer obtain compensation information from executive job seekers?

Managing the money question for employers should begin with conducting proper research on what the market rate is for the position. Employers should know in advance how much they can pay for the right person before conducting interviews. There are many professional compensation consultants for hire who will conduct salary surveys for a construction employer to get at specific comparisons in specific locations. There are also many free, self-help, online salary survey tools like Salary.com, SalaryExpert.com, or ConstructionSalary.com that can help assess general salary trends and parameters.

Employers should also try to circumvent the money question by requiring that all job seekers fill out an application in order to document what the executive is earning and what they expect to earn before any interview incurs. Since the information is written and becomes a permanent record, most executives are likely to be honest and some actually appreciate the non-threatening, and upfront method of addressing their compensation expectations. However, some executives may refuse to put an income figure down until after they are further along in the interview process, and actually welcome the opportunity to talk money in person thinking it places them in a better position of control.

If an executive job seeker refuses to disclose his or her current income, some employers will ask what expectations or salary range the executive would consider to pursue their job opportunity. They may not ask about the executives salary history, but about salary expectations. If the executives expectations fall outside the parameters of what the employer can pay, then they can explore the executives degree of flexibility. Empathizing with the job seeker, discussing the opportunity openly, asking a lot of open-ended questions and listening for opportunities to subtly drop in the money question usually helps employers to obtain the information they need.
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