Logistical Fit: Handling Compensation Questions

In previous articles, I’ve addressed three-of-the-four assessment areas companies use in evaluating hires.  As a review, the previous areas are Motivational Fit, Functional Fit, and Cultural Fit.  The fourth element is Logistical Fit.

A person can "fit" in every other way but then the whole thing can blow up purely based on logistical issues.  Logistical Fit has two main elements: Start Date and Salary Expectations.  

At some point in the interview process, you want to disclose any extended vacations you have planned for the remainder of the year or any that will delay a potential start date.  Also, you want to disclose if you’re obligated to give a notice that is longer than the customary two-week notice of resignation.

The other element, and the biggest element of Logistical Fit, is compensation.  There is a lot of buzz around if candidates should disclose their earning history to employers.  My advice is to learn the laws governing your state and know what your rights are.  

My advice is to learn the laws governing your state and know what your rights are.  

Ultimately, there are two questions you need to be prepared to answer.  They sound similar, but they are vastly different.  The first question is: What are you earning now?  This is a factual question that deserves a factual response.  I would recommend that you lay out everything…base, bonus, stock, LTI, 401K match, vacation, and car benefit....everything.  The reason I recommend this is because it is in your best interest.  Companies simply want to understand what you’re earning now because that is a starting point to figuring out the appropriate offer to extend you.   

Companies simply want to understand what you’re earning now because that is a starting point to figuring out the appropriate offer to extend you.   

What you're currently earning is one of three factors in determining your offer, so factor one is what you’re currently earning.  Companies don’t want to offer candidates the same or less than their earning because no company wants their offer to be turned down. 

Factor two is internal equity.  What that means is that companies are obligated in some respects to pay people who have the same experience and qualifications who are doing the same job relatively the same salaries.  So, if you’re earning WAY more than people with like experience in the company, that may be a problem.  If you’re currently making WAY less than people with like experience in the company, you may very well see a substantial increase due to internal equity.

The third factor is how well you interview.  If you knock it out of the park and they feel they just have to have you, well then that may marginally increase your offer.

So again, lay all your cards on the table when asked about what you’re currently earning.

The trickier of the two compensation question is: What are you looking to make?  The salary expectations question that we all love…  Now unlike the first question that was factual, this one is in the subjective zone.  There are two schools of thought on how to handle this tricky question. 

The first is to just simply tell the company what your expectations are, but maybe shoot high in case they attempt to widdle it down.  Again, this is just one school of thought, and you are certainly welcome to handle it that way if that aligns with your thinking.

The other school of thought is to keep it in the subjective zone.  Take their subjective question and punt back a subjective response.  People in this school of thought have the stance that if you name a salary that is too high you might turn them off from offering you the job AND if you name a salary too low, you might leave money on the table.  People who prescribe to this philosophy will advise you to respond like this:

  • “I’d be looking for something fair and reasonable, reflective of the scope of the position.”
  • “I’d be looking for something competitive and in-line with what I’ve earned in the past.”
  • “I’d be looking to be paid commensurate with my experience and equitably with the rest of the team.”

I want to be clear that I’m not advising you either way on this.  Answering this type of question is purely based on how you want to handle it.   There is no right or wrong necessarily, it is just up to your level of comfort and your style.

If the company feels that they can afford you, that you can start in a reasonable amount of time, and that there are no other potential impediments to you taking the job, then they will consider you a Logistical Fit.  And on the road to getting the job!

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