Salary Negotiation Techniques to Employ in a Job Interview

Money is always a sensitive subject, and as such, a salary negotiation is an equally sensitive topic. In any job interview, allow the interviewer to be the one to bring up your potential salary, rather than broaching the subject yourself, even if the topic goes completely unaddressed in your initial interview. By avoiding the topic for as long as possible, you are able to absorb as much information about the job as you can. This better informs your negotiation strategy as well as allows you to convey as much information as possible about your qualifications for the job, and value to the company to help bolster your later negotiation for the highest salary possible. When the employer finds the time is right to open up the salary conversation, he or she may tell you outright what salary is being offered for the job, or may ask you what salary you would like to receive. Rather than answer with a fixed amount, even if an estimate, present a desired salary range that you came to the interview prepared with based on research you performed before you arrived. At this point, it is time for salary negotiations to begin. Here are some techniques for the best results in your next salary negotiation.

Be Prepared

A salary negotiation starts long before you sit down for the job interview with research into the salaries other workers are getting for the same type of job. The county of Fairfax, Virginia, provides several resources to research the competitive salaries of various positions, including salary information for almost 900 occupations, a calculator for comparing the costs of living in the U.S. and occupational employment statistics compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Other places you can research average industry salaries include the First Destinations or McIntire Placement Report, NACE Salary Calculator, Bureau of Labor Statistics Monthly Labor Review Statistics Publications, and Student Outcomes and Activities Report (SORA). You can also examine relevant professional publications and professional associations in the industry in which you would be working, as well as inquire with the human resources department for that company. You can also reach out to one of your networking contacts, including fellow alumni from the school where you graduated.

Come to the interview prepared not only with an expected salary range based on your comparisons, but also a comparison of those salaries to the costs of living in Virginia, a list of the qualifications and background you bring to the company that would merit a higher rate of pay, and if available, evidence of a higher offer you were made for a similar job by another company.

Open the Door

Once the employer has offered you the job for a specific salary, ask in as respectful a manner as possible if he or she is open to that salary being negotiated. Make sure you sufficiently convey to the employer that you are genuinely interested in accepting the job offer so he or she does not think you are simply going from interview to interview shopping around for the highest salary. If the employer tells you that the offered salary is not open to negotiation, then politely accept his or her decision and move forward. You usually do not have to decide on the spot whether to accept a job offered with a nonnegotiable salary. Ask the employer if you can have some time to think it over and then give him or her your final decision. Most employers will be happy to oblige. Do not make the employer wait too long for your decision, however, lest the job be awarded to someone else in the interim.

Be Polite

Know that the employer may very well decline your counter offer, and you may still want to accept the job offer at the quoted salary. Given that, avoid any reactions, attitudes, statements or behaviors that would cause the employer to recant on that original offer. Treat the employer with respect and gratitude, and try to seek out a win for both of you.

Be Enthusiastic

Make sure that before and throughout your salary negotiations, your employer is aware of your excitement for the job prospect and your intention of accepting the job offer. In so doing, you shift the conversation from one between two adversaries with competing or conflicting interests to one between two people on the same team with a mutual interest.

Be Patient

As excited as you may be about the job offer or as passionate as you may be about your salary negotiations, make sure that you speak calmly and avoid cutting off the employer or interviewer while he or she is speaking. Do not dominate or try to force the conversation, but rather, allow it to occur at its own natural pace, making a specific point and then waiting for the employer to carefully consider that point and deliver his or her response before you say any more.

Be Professional

Throughout your salary negotiations, always maintain an air of professionalism. Provide solid, salient points supporting your argument. Listen to the employer’s responses closely and demonstrate your understanding of them by offering counterpoints that address those same concerns. If the employer still refuses to budge and you are unwilling to accept the job at the offered rate, then calmly and politely thank the employer for his or her time, decline the offer and invite the employer to contact you if the situation changes. The importance of always presenting yourself in as professional a manner as possible is that, even if a particular job interview does not work out, the interviewer might recommend you for another job in the same company, recommend you to a colleague at another company or even call you up for the same job again sometime down the line.