How to Negotiate Salary During the Interview Process

So you landed an interview, it went beautifully, and now you find yourself with a job offer – congratulations! But before you say yes, you should slow down and take a close look at the salary they offer you. Is it what you were hoping for? Is it what you would expect for the position you applied for and the experience you bring? The first offer companies give you is often lower than they expect you to take, as a salary negotiation is a common part of the hiring process. This makes many people uncomfortable, especially when they lack experience or are simply glad enough to get a job offer at all. But no one should go into a new job or environment feeling underpaid or undervalued, and if you do a little preparation it can be an easy and straight-forward conversation. Remember, they’ve already tipped their hand and offered you the job, so you have a bit of leverage to prompt this dialogue.

Do Your Research

You should arm yourself with knowledge: Do you have a job description to know what all your responsibilities will be? What’s the average salary of such a position in your state? How does that change with your level of experience? If you know your worth, you’ll be able to recognize where the first offer lands, and then use that knowledge to negotiate a realistic counteroffer.


It’s All in the Delivery

Clearly you’ve done a good job in the interview convincing them you’re the right person for the job, so instead of being confrontational with your request, capitalize on your rapport. Emphasize how excited you are about the position and joining the company: “I have a great feeling about this and can’t wait to get started, but before I accept I was wondering, is the salary negotiable?” At this point you should have a range prepared, with the lowest a reasonable salary and the highest a little above what you’d expect to receive. As long as you’ve done your research and don’t go overboard, they’ll likely meet you in the middle. Even if they can’t go above their first offer, at least you’ve started the conversation and they may be more likely to sweeten the pot in other ways.

Get the Full Picture

Accepting a Job is about a lot more than just a salary. What are the benefits? Healthcare, stock options, paid time off, retirement plans, and fringe benefits are all factors you should consider in conjunction with the salary. Will you need to relocate, commute, or take a pay cut compared to your current position? These are all potential costs and valid concerns that you should factor into the negotiation, especially if any of the costs or benefits are out of the norm and may require compromise.

Take Your Time

You don’t have to say yes right away, even after the negotiation has concluded. The extra time to think it over may be good, both for you to consider if it’s worth it, and for the hiring manager to come back with a better offer if they get a sense you’re hesitant. Simply asking them when they would like an answer can’t hurt, so long as you get back to them in a timely manner. If they couldn’t compromise on the salary you wanted, be sure to ask about their evaluation process, potential bonuses, and what the future possibilities for raises would be. Just because it’s non-negotiable now doesn’t mean it always will be, and you should consider all of these factors before you commit whole sale.