By Mark Wright, OD, FCOVD,
and Carole Burns, OD, FCOVD
June 22, 2022
When negotiating job offers, you want to arrive at a wage that is fair for both yourself and the practice where you seek employment. Here is how to have productive negotiations.
Understanding negotiations is essential for both sides of the table – the interviewer and the interviewee. This goes back to the fundamental concept of knowledge is power.
Combined, we have over 70 years of experience in job negotiations in eyecare situations. Following are some of the most important concepts.
1) Do your homework. When applying for a position, learn about the practice. Anyone who comes to a job interview that has not done basic online research about the practice is starting out at a disadvantage. One of the first questions we are going to ask is: Why do you want to work here? If you cannot tell us what it is about our practice that interests you, then you are immediately at a disadvantage.
We had a doctor apply for a job with us who brought to us an analysis of our practice. This person pointed out where our practice had a weakness and gave a written explanation and plan of how they could fill the weakness and make the practice more complete and overall better while at the same time paying for herself if we gave her the opportunity. After reviewing her plan our question was not should we hire her, our question was how quickly could we hire her.
2) Hire slow and fire quick. Over the years, we’ve watched many people go through the interview/negotiation process and we’ve noticed that employers fall into two primary camps: those who stay focused on trying to ascertain if the candidate is the best fit for the job and those who are just looking for a warm body that will be acceptable.
If you are the interviewer, be a “best fit” employer, have clear expectations of every job within the practice even to the level of specific expectations of what will be produced at each job position. This is especially important when interviewing a new doctor. Best fit interviews are longer and they set expectations at the onset. The warm body interviews are short and quick. The underlying practice management principle here is hire slow and fire quick.
3) Any questions for me? An applicant should be prepared for this question. If the following questions have not been raised and answered, then here are questions, then as an interviewee, ask them:
Questions about the specific job
• What are your expectations for me in this role?
• What’s the most important thing I should accomplish in the first 90 days?
• What’s the performance review process like here? How often would I be formally reviewed?
• What metrics or goals will my performance be evaluated against?
• What are the most immediate projects that I would take on?
• How long before I will be in training?
Questions about the team
• What types of skills is the team missing that you’re looking to fill with a new hire?
• What are the biggest challenges that I might face in this position?
• Do you expect my main responsibilities in this position to change in the next six months to a year?
• Can you tell me about the team I’ll be working with?
• Who will I work with most closely?
• Can you tell me about my direct reports? What are their strengths and the team’s biggest challenges?
• What am I not asking you that I should?
• Is there anything else I can provide you with that would be helpful?
• Is there anything I can clarify for you about my qualifications?
• What are the next steps in the hiring process?
The purpose of the above questions is to get the hiring manager to begin to see you in the job. Once that visual image is created, it is hard for that hiring manager to see anyone else filling that position.
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Don’t ask these questions upfront
There are also questions you should not ask in the first visit. You can ask these questions after the potential employer falls in love with you. These questions relate to money and benefits.
• What’s the starting salary?
• Can you tell me about your health insurance?
• What are your paid leave policies?
What if the hiring manager asks you what your salary and benefits requirements are? View this video to see exactly how to answer that complicated question.
In the “Do your homework” section of this process, you should already know what is reasonable for money and benefits for your city and this specific job. There are websites that give this information. Here is what you will find if you use these sites to look up information about the job role of optician:
More often that not, the amount offered will be less than ideal. Your best negotiating option in this case is to offer a way to get what you want through a measurable means. For an optician, if you were offered $14/hour, it could sound like this: “When the practice does better, I would like to do better as well. What average dollar per patient would I need to achieve to be able to make $20/hour?” Creating a win-win is always the best way to go.
Also avoid asking questions that try to close the deal. (“So, do I have the job?”) You never want to sound presumptuous or like you don’t respect the company’s interview process.
Be aware of the hiring manager’s time. If your interview is scheduled for one hour, and 50 minutes into the interview they ask you, “Any questions for me,” then choose the most important one or two questions and do not ask the complete list of questions above. Show that you are a team player from the beginning. You want to leave a positive impression on the hiring manager.