How Can I Negotiate Salary at a Job Interview?

By | September 22, 2014

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The interview is a critical meeting in which a candidate and a hiring manager discuss all the aspects of a potential work assignment. From work hours and responsibilities to the corporate culture, a wide range of things are negotiated.  Yet, one of the topics that’s often left out of the interview process is the actual salary rate.

The Great Fear of Talking Compensation in an Interview

Why is this the case? In general, salary can be difficult to talk about upfront in a job interview. Money, and any talk about this, can be viewed as somewhat negative by both sides of the interview table. On the one hand, the hiring manager doesn’t want to lose a great candidate over a lower than expected salary range. On the other hand, the candidate may be uncomfortable bringing up salary negotiations for fear of looking overly interested in money, instead of the career opportunity.  But, when it comes down to it – a good candidate needs to be able to earn a salary that’s fair so they have to be able to bring it up in a job interview.

When is the right time to talk salary negotiations in an interview?

As a job seeker, it’s vital for you to be able to comfortably talk through the salary portion of a job interview. It’s also important to bring it up the right time. This is how you can negotiate for the best earnings during an interview.

#1 – Make the salary question one of our top questions you will ask the interviewer.

Instead of leaving the question of salary to the end, have a list of at least 5 interview questions to ask and bring up salary early on. Bring your list with you so the hiring manager knows you have a few questions to ask. In this way, it won’t seem so awkward.

#2 – Do your research on salaries for the job and region before the interview.

In advance of your interview, be sure to do some research using the most common salary surveys. Look up jobs that are similar to the one you are interviewing for. See what the salary ranges look like, the qualifications, and regional differences in pay. Then you’ll have a better idea of what to expect and ask for.

#3  – Talking about salary ranges vs. specific salary amounts.

If the hiring manager asks you what type of salary you are looking for, it’s always better to err on the side of being flexible. Give an open range with a difference of around $5K below and above what you want to be paid. So for example, if you want to earn $50K, say you’d like to be earning around $45 to $55K.

#4 – Ask if salary is based on a first-year employee or a seasoned employee.

Another way to negotiate for the best salary is to determine if the offer is based on a brand new employee with no experience (college grad for example) or someone with a few years under his or her belt. The more experience and training you have, the higher your starting salary should be.

#5 – Be willing to suggest alternatives to financial incentives.

During negotiations, the hiring manager may give a salary that’s a bit on the low side. Indicate your value and let them know you are also open to a variety of other perks, such as access to a company phone or car, stock options, flexible scheduling, or a primo office space. See what else you can get that will help you have a better experience in the new job.

When negotiating for salary, it’s always best to wait until you get a second or follow-up interview. This means you are one of the top candidates and they want you. Use this fact to your advantage to negotiate your way to a highly compensated job.