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Salaries and other sticky interview questions
Interviews2 min read

Salaries and other sticky interview questions


Do you find yourself stuck for words or unsure of when in the interview process to ask about salary, working conditions or flexibility?

Relax, say recruiters. In the old days interviews were about saying ‘yes’ to everything to get the job. Today the right job has to be a match for both sides.

That means employers expect these questions. They’ve almost always been asked before about money, flexible working hours, training and other conditions of importance to candidates.

If you’re lucky, the recruiter will do the job for you. “A good recruitment agency will brief you on salary and conditions before you go, so it won’t be necessary to ask,” says Penni Hlaca, regional general manager at Randstad.

If not, go to the interview prepared with some well worded questions to cover off issues of importance to you. Here’s how and when to ask your sticky questions:

  1. If there is more than one round of interviews, bide your time. By the second interview you’re definitely a preferred candidate and it’s perfectly acceptable to ask. “This is the time to start talking about what you’re looking for in an organisation,” says Peter Noblet, senior regional director at Hays.
  2. Wait for the “have you got any questions” cue. Interviewers will be ready for your questions then and the floor is yours to ask away.
  3. Just do it. Asking your questions isn’t going to hurt. In fact the opposite is often true. Well framed questions demonstrate that you are interested in the organisation and how it works, says Noblet.
  4. Word your questions sensitively. “How much are you paying?” or “I need to leave at 3pm every day?” are a tad direct.
  5. For the salary question ask: “I would really like to know what the salary bracket is for this role?” Or “Where does this role fit within your salary structure?”.
  6. On the subject of flexible working hours say: “What does your organisation do around HR trends on flexibility and work diversity?” Or ask specific questions, says Hlaca, such as: “How flexible are you around work life balance?”.
  7. If training is your issue try: “Is there career development for me in your organisation?”, “How long do you expect someone to stay in this job for?”, “If I came into this job now where would you see me in two years’ time?”, or “Can you explain how I get on boarded into your organisation?”.
  8. If your issue is something else, then a good catch-all question, says Noblet, is “what are your HR policies and practices around (the issue)”.

Asking these questions can help you dodge a bullet. “Yes, it could put them off,” says Noblet. “However if it puts people off it is not the organisation you want to work for."

Just do it. Asking your questions isn't going to hurt. In fact, the opposite is often true. Well framed questions demonstrate that you are interested in the organisation and how it works, says Noblet.

Finally, remember to smile and breathe when you’re asking your sticky questions. It will put everyone at ease. 


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