How to talk about Money in a Job Interview without making it Uncomfortable

So you are done with the initial phase of interview & have been shortlisted for a HR round & it’s the time for the salary negotiation when you find it awkward to ask for the type of money you have in your mind. Talking salary with a hiring manager during your job search can feel awkward. Prospective employers are not jumping at the chance to divulge salary ranges because they typically want to leave their options open.

Only negotiate salary after you have agreement in principle from someone with hiring authority that, if a mutually acceptable compensation can be agreed upon, you will be hired. This is really, really important because it has direct implications for your negotiating strategy.  First, the company is going to spend a lot of time and effort on getting you to the point of agreement-in-principle.  Pretend you’ve gone through six rounds of interviews.  (You probably won’t if you get hired on informal networks, because all barriers vanish when important people want a deal to get done, but let’s give some advice to someone a little less well-situated.)  Do some quick mental math on what that actually cost the company.

1. Never Give A Number First

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Every handbook on negotiation and every blog post will tell you not to give a number first.  This advice is almost always right. When people with hiring authority think of winners, they think of people like them who live and breathe this business thing.  They negotiate things as a matter of course: that is a major portion of the value they bring to the company & in that case one shouldn’t volunteer with numbers.

2. Listen To What People Tell You.  Repeat It Back To Them.

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While the negotiation is on, pickup words from the HR personnel & use the same in your conversation. You know what people find persuasive?  Their own words.  People love their own words.  When you talk to them, you should use their own words.  Seriously, watch the eyes light up.

3. Research

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Many people will tell you that you should familiarize yourself with the approximate salary range for the position in your region.  This advice is easy to act on (go to a salary aggregation site, guess what “the position” is, pray that this gives you a better number), but it leaves a lot to be desired.  It is 2016.  Facebook and LinkedIn exist.  You should, before any job interview, have intimate knowledge of the target company.  Prospective peers within the company are one obvious way to get it.  So are ex-employees, folks who’ve had dealings with them professionally, etc.

4. You Have A Multi-Dimensional Preference Set.  Use It

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Don’t overly focus on your salary number.  It is important (of course), but there are many parts of your compensation package, and many more things that you value.  Should you and the other party reach an impasse on any part of it, offer to table that part of the discussion (to be returned to later) and bring up a different topic.  You can then trade improvements for concessions (or apparent concessions) on the earlier topic.

Salary negotiation is a tactical & strategic approach and the art needs to be mastered, so that the recruiting manager feel convinced. Company while out in the market to recruit talent always operates out of a budget & makes his calculations before picking up CVs & sitting on negotiation table. Since they have their maths ready, it is always advisable to keep your numbers ready to.

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