I’ve had many clients over the years ask me how to negotiate salary during an interview. Well, there are definitely some don’ts – don’t make it personal, don’t give up your number first, and don’t blindly ask for money without doing your research.
But there are four techniques that will improve your chances of getting paid what you want and can be used during an interview to negotiate a starting salary.
Most interviews are conducted in stages, beginning with a phone interview and finishing with one or more personal interview. During COVID more interviews were conducted using video but still required multiple interviews. The process is daunting.
If you’ve made it this far in the interview process, not only are you ready to take the job, but the employer is also ready to offer you, or one other person, the job. Meaning, you’re still likely competing with one more person. How you negotiate salary during this final interview could make the difference of whether you receive the offer, or the other candidate receives the offer.
Use these four techniques to improve your chances of being offered the job at a salary you can live with.
- Adopt the executive mindset.
Adopting an executive mindset moves you from job seeker to working professional. You want to be the candidate the employer wants so that they are willing to make it work for you. Adopt this mindset before your first interview.
Here are some tips to adopt the executive mindset:
- Be authentically confident but check your ego at the door.
- Research the company where you’re applying.
- Have questions ready to ask about company growth, strategic planning, and at least one or two questions specific to the job description.
- Stay up to date with the latest trends in your industry and be able to describe those related to the role being interviewed for.
You want to demonstrate that you’re a professional, not just a kid off the street.
- Know your value.
OK, this seems obvious but we often under- or overestimate our worth. And, sadly, most overachievers underestimate our value.
You need to know your value based on what others with similar experience are making performing a similar role. This is different from knowing what someone with the same job title is making versus the same job responsibilities.
Research online sites such as Glassdoor. Ask someone in your field what the range is. Reach out to your alumni association. Talk to recruiters. Using a few of these methods will help narrow your salary range. In the end, you want a concrete number.
The flip side to knowing your value is being willing to walk away. If you’ve been out of a job for a while this might be really hard to do. But supposing your number is $76,500 and you’re offered $65,000, you need to walk away. Here is why.
- If you accept the substantially lower offer, you’re showing that you will give in. So that executive mindset you created is out the door!
- If you did your homework and you are actually being offered well below what others are making in your field, you won’t be happy.
- Keep quiet.
Do whatever you can to avoid disclosing your current salary or desired salary first. Whoever gives away a number first loses. Here are three scripts to use if you’re asked that dreaded question: What are your salary requirements or what are you making in current position?
- Script #1: I’m negotiable. It’s a short answer but use it. This will force the interviewer to disclose their range first and, whoever goes first loses!
- Script #2: My current position is much different with regard to this opportunity. In this new role I will be taking on new responsibilities, using different skill sets, and managing a team.
- Script #3: (For when you’re cornered into disclosing your current salary.) My current salary is $67,350; however, the roles are substantially different. In this new position, I will be taking on more responsibility consistent with training and experience I now have.
If you absolutely have to disclose a number, disclose a very specific number based on your research. Research at Columbia Business School found that when candidates use an exact number, they are more likely to receive an offer very close to that number. For example, if you discover that most people make between $75,000 and $78,000 annually for the position, you might pick a number such as$76,500. The study found that employers assumed you did your homework to determine fair market value for the role.
- Know when to begin salary negotiations.
You can waste a lot of time between the first interview and the third or even sixth before an offer is on the table only to find out you are nowhere close to an agreeable salary. Salary negotiations can begin earlier in the process. Most experts agree that before the second interview you can ask about salary. By now, you’ve done your homework, you know your value, and you have an executive mindset. You’re ready to follow these steps:
- Ask to speak to someone by phone. If you receive an email to come in for a second interview, reply by asking to schedule a phone call. Make sure to let them know you’re excited about the role and moving forward in the interview process, but that you have a few questions about the position before moving forward. During the phone call, it is important to ask a few questions about the position – not just about salary!
- Convey to the interviewer that you’re interested in more than just a paycheck. You don’t have to be specific in why you’re asking about salary. A great way to do this is to ensure the employer you are excited about the role but want to discuss the compensation package briefly before taking up too much of anyone’s time.
No one wants to waste time in the interview process if the salary is too low for the candidate or too high for the employer. Employers will appreciate that you’re respectful of their time. They will also admire that you’ve done your homework. If you’re willing to go this extra mile before being offered a job, you’ll certainly go the extra mile for them once you’re hired.
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