Editor’s note: Since writing this Covid-19 has obviously changed everything. Prior to the pandemic this would have been a question to ask, but we now recommend you hold off on it. Budgets have been destroyed and it’s not the right time to bring up this subject. Once we get though this difficult time period make sure you have this question in your back pocket for when the time is right.
Trust me, I get it.
I have been there. Sitting across from the Medical Director for the anesthesia group during an interview. On my best behavior, trying to make a great impression. Making sure my body posture is appropriate and choosing my words wisely.
No one wants to make a bad impression or, worse yet, come off offensive.
That’s why when it comes to asking about money many of us shy away from being too bold about the topic with the person interviewing us. It can be a tricky subject to navigate.
Eventually, the group will make you an offer or go over the details of how you will be compensated and how much you can expect to earn. However, there is one question that people never ask about money but really should once the offer is made or, better yet, even before compensation is discussed.
“How often does this group give a raise to employees?”
Why is it important to ask?
It’s a question I should have asked the first hospital I worked for coming out of anesthesia training. We were hospital employees and the starting rate was comparable to surrounding hospitals. I did receive a raise after my first year, but never saw another one for the next four years.
That was a long time to go. The cost of living doesn’t stop increasing just because you didn’t receive a raise.
And the only reason I received a “raise” after four years was because we had an anesthesia management group take over the anesthesia department and they bumped up everyone’s salaries. Who knows how long it could have gone on or would it have forced me to start looking for other employment options?
How often they give raises shouldn’t be a deal breaker, but asking about it gives you important information. It helps you set expectations on what your potential financial compensation will be moving forward year after year. Knowing what your pay will be three or five years down the line affects the plans you make for your future life.
But can I ask them about raises during the interview?
Absolutely. Don’t be afraid to ask. Because if you don’t ask you will never know.
But what’s important, is how you ask.
Remember you don’t want to come off offensive or appear to only be concerned about the money.
So start by building a scenario around the question as to why you are asking it. Next, phrase the question so it’s not about you, but focused on the current anesthesia providers in the group.
Last thing, don’t lead with this as your first question.
“I am looking for a job that will provide financial support over the long-term. How often are providers considered for an increase in compensation and what factors are they based on?”
The question is set up by telling the interviewer you are thinking about being in one place long-term and that could potentially be with them. This automatically softens the ask to the interviewer.
Then, you ask the question addressing how the group works, in this case it’s about raises. You have separated yourself from the topic of raises, and this question follows a line of others already asked about the inner workings of the anesthesia group. So it will seem natural you are being thoughtful and making sure to cover everything pertaining to the job.
You accomplish everything you want with this question. You find an easy non-offensive way to ask about raises, you discover if they give raises and, as a bonus, the criteria to be considered for a raise.
Now that you know how to ask about raises before you are even offered the job, don’t be afraid to ask that one question everyone else is afraid to ask.