Moving firms, or threatening to do, so is by far the easiest way to receive a major hike in your compensation. Hence, smart interview strategy is a very important means of maximizing your earnings potential. Based on personal experience, personal observation and innate cunning, here’s my advice for playing the interview game in a manner that they (probably) don’t teach you at Harvard Business School:
1) When asked why you want to move, it’s not only OK to say ‘for cash’, but this is the correct answer. If you’re motivated to make money, you will be motivated to make the firm that hires you major profits.
2) Always say you’re happy where you are. Always say you’re moving due to ‘pull’ and not ‘push’ factors. The onus is then on your potential new employer to persuade you to move. They will do this by serious increases in your compensation.
3) Subtly suggest that other firms are looking to hire you during the interview, even if they’re not.
4) Never badmouth your current team / bank. Even in as disloyal a place as the City, this is deemed bad form.
5) If you’ve got a half decent reputation it’s sometimes worth changing the interview around and asking them to convince you to move. This shows confidence and again makes your interviewers feel they have to persuade you to join them.
6) If you even hear mention of the words like ‘long term prospects’ make your excuses and leave. The City is about making hard cash ASAP.
7) When it gets to the talking-money phase, never fall for the trick of saying what you personally expect. Instead, say what you perceive your ‘market value’ to be. If they demand to know what your current salary is, exaggerate it by 10-15% … I always did this and they never checked.
8) Never accept their first offer … say you need to think about it and then call up and say you’ll move for 15%. They are nearly always willing to up it.
9) Make sure you get a guaranteed bonus and a buyout of the equity that you’ve accrued at your previous employer (you’ll inevitably forfeit this by moving).
10) This first move you make in your career should result in a major step up in pay. Double would be good. Anything less than 30% is probably a disaster.