The Negotiator Magazine

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Negotiating Employment Opportunities

By Charles B. Craver

Employment opportunities are based on a series of negotiations. Candidates for positions must initially secure interviews. They must impress the interviewers sufficiently to obtain job offers, and they must finally negotiate their employment terms. Individuals working for companies must decide when to seek more advantageous employment terms. Individuals who recognize that these are all bargaining encounters are likely to be more successful than people who fail to do so.


When people learn of available positions, they must try to obtain interviews. It is imperative that they make good impressions with the persons scheduling such interviews so they can convince them they are worthy of consideration. If candidates are rude or do not seem competent, they are likely to be told no interview slots are available. On the other hand, even if the slots are all full, if they make good impressions the schedulers may work to fit them in during the lunch break or the beginning or end of the interview schedule.

When candidates initially contact someone by phone or in person to ask about a vacant position, they should be fully prepared for the encounter. They should have read the position announcement thoroughly to be certain they know what the job entails and what the qualifications are. They should take their resumes to personal encounters, in case the scheduler requests a copy. They should be prepared to indicate why they believe they are qualified for the position in question.

Once candidates are scheduled for an interview, they should be prepared for this critical interaction. They should wear clothing appropriate for someone applying for the open position. When in doubt, they should remember that it is preferable to be overdressed than underdressed. Even if the employer has casual Fridays and they are scheduled for a Friday interview, they should dress as they would if the interview was on another day.

The preliminary portion of the interview is crucial. Studies indicate that most interviewers form initial impressions during the first minute or two they interact with candidates, and spend the rest of the interview trying to confirm their preliminary assessments. It is thus important for candidates to begin their interviews in a professional manner. They should introduce themselves politely, but forcefully, and shake hands firmly. If the interviewer begins the session standing up, the candidates should remain standing until asked to have a seat. They should also appreciate the fact that interviewers who do more of the talking tend to evaluate candidates more generously than interviewers who say little. Candidates should thus plan to ask questions that will encourage the interviewers to talk.

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September 2005