Career clinic: Asking about terms and conditions during interviews

Q: I am looking into changing jobs and have been offered a few interviews.Can you please advise me as to when is the best time to bring up conditions of service – salary, relocation alowance, flexible working, annual leave? Should this form part of the interview or should they be discussed once you have been offered the post?

A: In many jobs, conditions are stated at the beginning because if you are applying for a job you want to know important things like how much money you are going to be on. So these details should either be in the job advertisement or, if not, then they should be supplied on application to give candidates an indication of whether it’s worthwhile applying.

However, if you don’t know the answer to these questions before the interview, it makes sense to raise them during it so they are clarified – after all you don’t want to be offered the job only to find out the pay isn’t what you want or need.

Saying that, depending on the type of organisation, you may feel they might be prepared to increase their salary offer, although in these cash-strapped times that is less likely to happen.

Some people might be more nervous asking about flexible working, but it’s better to be upfront about it and find out what the organisation’s policy or view is on this and what it might be prepared to offer. You will have to resist any worries you may have about appearing too self-oriented.

Given the financial situation faced by many organisations, the money is probably going to be quite tight so there may not be much room for negotiation. If they can negotiate, it will probably be around things like flexible working that cost less than things like salary and paid holiday, so if that is important to you it would be worth making that clear.

I would say that it’s better to ask everything you want to either before or during the interview.

If you do this after the job is offered and they can’t give you the terms and conditions you want then you have both spent quite a lot of time in the process but you won’t take the job.

Charles Cotton is an adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development


Does completing a statutory placement in your final year give you an advantage once you have qualified and are looking for a job? What does that mean for those of us who can’t find statutory placements due to the current shortages of placements?

Jo Burgess, social work student

We will answer this question in the 23 April issue of Community Care. We want to publish your advice too – please send it to by 16 April.

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