How To Negotiate Salary During The Job Interview Process

By Mike Simpson

Money…money…money…money…money.

It makes the world go ‘round… it’s rumored to be the root of all evil… and if you listen to the old saying, it can’t buy you happiness.

Hmm. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say whoever coined that phrase hasn’t had to face the struggle of negotiating a fair salary for a job.

In a perfect world we’d all be working at jobs we love making piles of money and nobody would ever have to worry about negotiating salary.

 

Unfortunately we don’t and too often people end up taking jobs for a pay rate they’re not happy with…and that can lead to resentment, anger, dissatisfaction with the job, and in some cases…poor performance which can ultimately lead to, well, no job!

But when is the right time during your job interview to negotiate a salary?

 

How To Negotiate Salary – The “Old School Method”

There are quite a few different schools of thought on this subject, with the majority siding with the “it’s only okay to discuss it if the hiring manager brings it up first” rule…or as we like to call it, the “Old School” method.

Usually this discussion is brought up near the end of the interview.

At this point the hiring manager has generally made up their mind as to whether or not they think you’re a good fit for the job. You’ll get a smile and a nod and they’ll open with “Now, you’ll start at $X dollars an hour for your probationary period and then be eligible for a raise every year based on performance reviews.

If you’re lucky, what they’re offering is exactly what you were expecting and everyone goes home happy.

Old School can be successful, if you’re just starting out in your chosen field and don’t have a lot of experience…or if you’re the super lucky person I described above who gets exactly what they expected when they walked into that interview.

It’s also the route people who might lack confidence in their skills will find the most comfortable to deal with.

We’re here to tell you that, with the exception of the luckiest guy in the world who always gets what he wants, this method of just accepting whatever number the hiring manager starts with isn’t necessarily the best way to go – and here’s why

Interviews today are usually multi-step processes, starting with a phone interview, moving to a video interview, and often finishing up with multiple in-person interviews.

More often than not salary won’t even come up until the final interview, which means you’ve jumped through all those hoops and invested all that time and energy only to find out at the very end that what they’re offering and what you’re expecting are two very different amounts.

For some people just the lure of having a job is enough for them to accept whatever number is thrown at them, even if it’s much less than they were hoping for. That’s fine for those people…but you are not one of them!

It’s time to enroll in a “New School” way of dealing with your salary!

The “New School” Method

Here at TheInterviewGuys.com we strongly believe that you need to have confidence in yourself and your skills. You are the ideal candidate and that confidence needs to carry all the way through everything you do… including deciding how much you’re worth.

 

Rather than just taking the job no matter what, you need to have an “executive mindset.

Liz Ryan, a leading expert in the world of HR, job hunting, and how to not only get your dream job but your dream salary as well, describes the “executive mindset” as the switch between thinking like a job-seeker and more like a professional in their chosen field just looking for their next assignment.

Rather than being that individual who is so grateful for a job that you take whatever they throw at you, you want to be that person that the company is so eager to bring onboard that they work to make it work for you!

So how do you go from “seeker” to “professional?”

Easy.

Confidence.

First off, make sure it’s genuine confidence. Like we’ve said time and time again…honesty is the best policy.

Blowing up your ego and swaggering into an interview with an inflated sense of entitlement is going to get you either right back out the door and onto your butt or into a situation where you are vastly underqualified…and again…out the door on your butt.

So go in with a healthy level of confidence. Make sure you’re in charge of the interview. (No…not that you’re asking the questions…that’s the hiring manager’s job.)

Just that you’re in control of yourself and projecting a level of confidence that lets them know that they’re dealing with someone who knows exactly who they are, what they can do, and what they deserve for that work.

Of course all this requires having a strategy that starts with knowing your value…and bringing it up yourself…

Don’t wait until the very end… by then it’s too late… and don’t start your very first interview by bringing it up then either (unless this is a one interview situation…but we’ll tackle that in a bit).

Managing The Multi-Step Interview

As we’ve said before, there is absolutely no reason for you to continue with the interview if the salary for the position does not align with your expectations.  It’s really just a waste of everyone’s time, which is why we recommend that you get to the heart of the matter before moving forward.

Therefore, the sweet spot for starting salary negotiations in a multiple level process is just before the second interview.

When they call you to bring you in for a second interview, it’s your move. Open with a question, not a demand. This is a negotiation!

Let’s do a little role playing! Pretend you killed it in your first interview and things are going beautifully. The hiring manager has just called you and wants to schedule a second interview…this time in person.

You feel good about what you bring to the table and where you see yourself going with the company if you’re hired.

Now’s the time to talk bottom line!

Hiring Manager: We’d love to have you come in and meet with a few of our department heads and wanted to know if you were available later this week?

You: Is this a good time and are you the right person to have a salary conversation with?

Smooth! You’re asking…not demanding. And by including the word ‘conversation’ you’re indicating that this is a give and take scenario.

What Did You Make In Your Last Position?

This is the question that many job seekers dread, and you might be in the same boat.

But what is so darn scary?  Well, everybody knows that the moment you reveal your previous salary you have made it much more difficult for yourself to negotiate anything much better than that.

Hiring Manager: Well, do you mind me asking you what you made at your previous job, XYZ Company?

Uh oh! This question has the potential to derail your interview…especially if what you were making is far below what you want to be making. Many hiring managers will take your past salary and use that to decide how much they’ll pay you. Instead of answering it directly, think like an executive and gently deflect/redirect.

Now this is where you need to have a little courage and more importantly, confidence in yourself…

You: To be honest, I'm not sure that the salary I made in my last position is relevant with regard to this opportunity.  It was a different position with different responsibilities, not to mention with a different company (with their own budgets and salary guidelines).  More importantly, I am looking for a job that can compensate me fairly for my skills and experience.

This answer actually satisfies several criteria. You’re not answering directly and shooting down your ability to negotiate, and you’re projecting confidence and showing that you know what you’re worth.

Hiring Manager:  Well then, how much are you expecting to make at this job?

Again, another potential roadblock…but not an impossible one. This one requires some research beforehand…but you’re already a pro at that!

MIKE'S TIP:

Before you go to an interview it’s always a good idea to determine how much other people have made doing the job you’re applying for. There are various websites out there that can give some general info, but they tend to lack the specificity needed for different regions, levels of experience, etc. A great place to get information would be from local recruiters or job-search consultants who may have familiarity with the company or the range for that position in your market.

You: I’m focusing on roles in the $60K range, so that’s a good starting point. Is this a role in that range? If so, it makes sense for me to come back for a second interview.

There you go! You’ve just let the manager know that you’re knowledgeable about the job you’re applying for, know how much it pays, and know how much you are worth doing that job! It also lets them know that you’re serious about the job and also serious about not wasting anybody’s time.

Want a variation on this answer? Try this one too:

If it turns out that I’m the candidate you hire for this position, I’m sure we’d be able to reach a mutually agreeable salary as I’m willing to be flexible. Can you give me an idea as to what the budgeted salary range is?

The goal is to give an answer that allows room for back and forth but also protects you from being trapped in a lowball position you might never be able to fully crawl out of, no matter how long you’re with the company.

But what if the hiring manager keeps asking you how much you’re currently making and your ninja deflection skills are being thwarted at every turn?

*Sigh*

It’s hard to not just blurt it out. I know. Honesty may be the best policy…but in the case of salary negotiations…silence is golden!

No, I don’t mean sit in the chair and just stare at the hiring manager in defiance to the question…rather, follow these simple rules:

  1. Don’t lie. Don’t tell them it’s more/less than what you made in order to fit what you think the hiring manager is looking for. All you’ll do is end up looking stupid in the long run and potentially really screwing up future possibilities.
  2. Don’t tell. Nope. Don’t say a word about what you made. It’s YOUR salary! You can firmly, but politely, refuse to answer.

You: My financial information is private, as I am sure yours is as well. If you aren’t comfortable extending me an offer based on my experience and qualifications, I totally understand.

Any hiring manager who continues to press you for your past salary isn’t really interested in hiring you based on your qualifications…rather they just want to protect their bottom line…and that’s not someone you want to work for.

As Liz Ryan so sagely put it:

“As soon as you give up a past salary figure, you lose all your negotiating leverage. Most employers will not hire you in at more than ten percent over your last salary, even if they love you. They feel that ten percent is enough of a pay bump to go from one job to another.”

Remember, polite – but firm.

The “One-Shot” Interview

But what about a situation where you get just one shot at the interview process…as in “Come in right now and we’ll talk and see if you’re a good fit?”

One shot interviews are the time to break the rule about not discussing salaries within the first interview…which makes sense when you consider you only get, well, one interview.

The same rules apply here as they do to the multiple process interviews…be firm, be polite, be knowledgeable.

And again, if the numbers don’t match what you’re looking for, it’s okay to negotiate.

MIKE'S TIP:

Not all jobs that you apply for are going to provide the opportunity for salary negotiation.  For example, most entry-level jobs will come with a well-known and firm starting salary.  Certain industries follow this mantra as well. If this is the case for the position you are interviewing for, don't come out swinging and flexing your negotiation skills.  You're there to get the job, not squeeze more money out of them.  You want to have a good understanding if this applies to the position you are interviewing for.

applicationSalary And Your Job Application

But I wrote down what my past salary was when I filled out the application! Now what?!

Drat! Those pesky applications! Well, there’s no undoing what’s already been done…but you can absolutely still negotiate using the above strategies…and the next time you see one of those horrible little “list past salary” boxes on an application…here’s what you do:

DO NOT LEAVE IT BLANK. NO!

Fill it in. Just don’t fill in what you actually made.

But hang on, isn’t that lying? You told me above that honesty was the best policy and to never ever lie!

Yes, technically…but we’re not lying…at least not directly…because you see, what you’re going to fill it in with is the salary you’re looking for right now. And you’re going to put that amount in every box that asks for past salary. Every. Single. One.

Even the box where you worked at your Dad’s garage filing spark plug paperwork. Say your target salary is $75,000 a year. Put that down.

Then in the very first open comment box that allows you to free write or type in it, make sure you write “All salary figures reported on this application reflect my current salary target.

Nobody needs to know you made $3.75 filing those spark plugs. All they need to know is you’re damn good at the job you’re applying for and you’re worth $75,000 a year to do it.

So why do it this way?

Remember, 99% of the automated applications that you fill out online are going to a machine that is going to scan them at a rate of one billion an hour (okay, might be exaggerating, but you get the picture) and the first thing they’re going to kick out are applicants that don’t fit the job they’re hiring for.

At this point you’re not lying…you’re simply getting past the first gatekeeper (computer) so you can get the chance to sit down face to face with a real hiring manager and discuss just how awesome you are in person.

Putting Your Strategy To The Test

Whew! A lot to process, I know, but you’re tough…you’re a rock star…

No wait, you’re better than that.

You’re a professional. And now, armed with the tools we’ve given you above and a healthy dose of common sense (always a good thing to keep in mind) you’re ready to take on any job search with a clear salary goal in mind and the ability to negotiate what you need.

Taking the more passive “Old School” method might get you a job faster…but in the long run, is it really the right job for you?

Taking a stand and negotiating your worth might make you uncomfortable in the short run, but when you land the job of your dreams making what you truly deserve…well, that’s the best feeling in the world!

Good luck!

What You Should Do Next

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The fact is, the hiring manager will have zero interest in discussing your salary if you bomb his or her job interview questions.. Our special report is the perfect way to start your preparation.

In it you'll learn our perfect interview answers formula (The Tailoring Method) and you'll also get sample answers to 5 common interview questions you'll almost certainly face.

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Do You Have Any Questions About Salary? Leave It In The Comments Section…

71 Comments

  • chi-chi

    Reply Reply September 23, 2015

    Thanks so much for this insightful piece.However,I do need you to please help me answer this online application question.
    1. Please indicate your current monthly ctc salary?
    2. Provide details of any incentives/commissions/bonuses you received?

    Thank You

    • Mike Simpson

      Reply Reply September 26, 2015

      Hi Chi-Chi,

      My understanding of your CTC (Cost To Company) Salary is that it is a cumulative total of both your gross salary and any other benefits that you receive from the company, including commissions, medical reimbursements etc. It represents the total cost that the company would incur on you as an employee.

      My guess is that you are in a country or an industry where this is industry standard, because we usually don’t see this specific request as part of a traditional job application.

      The best way to answer this question is to be honest. For the first part of the question, you simply need to list your gross salary. Pretty straightforward.

      For the second part, you need to account for any of the other benefits that you received that cost the company above and beyond your salary. If you don’t know the exact amounts, you can make estimations. One other option is to contact your old workplace and ask to obtain these figures.

      If you weren’t paid based on CTC Salary, simply list this on your application and provide your gross salary number.

      Hope this helps.

  • Colin

    Reply Reply October 14, 2015

    This is the most concrete answer on the salary question I’ve ever seen. Thanks. And wish me luck on my second interview!

  • kd

    Reply Reply October 28, 2015

    This is great. I have a question. I have had one skype interview and now im on the second one. I am out of state and want to know about relocation but its hard because I already feel like im at a disadvantage because I getting another skype interview. Should I bring up relocation and salary via email before the next skype interview. Also there is a salary range but its about a $25/hr between the start and end and I dont know where they will place me.

    • Mike Simpson

      Reply Reply October 28, 2015

      KD,

      Are you saying that you will relocate or you won’t?

  • Clara

    Reply Reply November 12, 2015

    Thank you for this insightful post! But what if the job position is an entry-level, where there is no way of negotiating based on previous experiences? I don’t want to turn down a job due to a low pay, but I also want to be happy with the salary.

    • Mike Simpson

      Reply Reply November 13, 2015

      Clara,

      Here’s the thing about entry-level jobs. For the most part, the salary are stated outright, are well-known, and are not really negotiable. You have to ask yourself before heading into the interview, “Is this enough money for me?” If you go into an interview for an entry-level job with aspirations of hitting a home run in your salary negotiation, you are likely going to be very disappointed. Be realistic about your expectations, and if the money isn’t good enough, look for something else.

      • MJ

        Reply Reply February 4, 2016

        Hello Mike,

        I am a newly grad CPA, CGA with very less experience in public accounting. I am seeking opportunity in a mid-size professional accounting firm to get full cycle accounting and audit experience to be a LPA. I recently went through a series of job interview process (telephone-1st and 2nd interview)with a potential employer of my choice. The employer is highly interested to give me a job if we can mutually agree on salary. She asked me how much I make at my present job and I told her the right amount. But since the job in question is a entry-level staff accountant position, they have set number in their budget. Last I spoke to her was on Sunday evening and during our conversation she told me that her budget is $43000.00 and I asked her to pay me $50,000.00 based on my education , experience and skills which will bring a lot of value to her firm. I also asked her about other benefits like vacation policy, promotion criteria, which she said that she will get back to me with answer in couple days. I told her that I am willing to negotiate the salary as I am highly interested in job.

        Now today is Thursday and she hasn’t called me yet. Their are two possible reasons:

        1) her brother who is a partner is on vacation, so she might be too busy working alone or
        2) She want me to feel desperate and settle for less.

        Now my situation is that I love the firm and the job, salary was not too concern since they will be investing on training me as well so I understand the cost of training as well. the reason I told her my expectation so she don’t find me too desperate to take whatever she offer and that’s why I told her my expectation along with the fact that I am flexible.

        Now I am not too sure if I should call to follow up and if I do then what to ask her since she said she will get back to me.

        The fact is she really like me and want me to start right away and I am ok with it. She has already checked my references and transcripts and all.

        Please advise.

        Regards,

        MJ

        • Mike Simpson

          Reply Reply February 5, 2016

          MJ,

          Sorry for the delay, I’m hoping you have received your answer by now. If so, I’m anxious to hear what the outcome was.

          Generally speaking it’s always good to allow hiring managers (or whoever is the interviewer) time to process the information from the interview and also take care of any other business that required them giving you a two day buffer. After all, you don’t know for sure that she is not responding because of your salary demands.

          Having said that, you don’t want wait for two weeks to find out where you stand.

          So here’s a rough guide. Wait for the allotted time to pass without making any contact. If you have not received word back, give it a couple more days to ensure that you don’t come off as overly persistent or annoying. There are hundreds of reasons why the initial timeframe has been extended, and you have to give them a little leeway to sort things out.

          After a suitable amount of time has passed (in your case let’s say an extra two days), send a casual email to the interviewer to “check in” based on the initial timeframe. It’s sometimes appropriate to utilize a bit of “no rush” sentiment, meaning, you should offer that you are just fine waiting for them to sort out their business but just wanted to make sure the lines of communication were still open.

          For a final bit of messaging, you might want to finish with a gentle reminder regarding your stance on salary. “As mentioned, I am flexible on my salary requirements and look forward to discuss this with you at your earliest convenience…”

          Make sense?

          Mike

  • Nataly

    Reply Reply November 26, 2015

    Thank you for your post.
    What if you’re applying for a role internally? (Obviously, they already know how much you’re earning)

    • Mike Simpson

      Reply Reply December 1, 2015

      Nataly,

      Most of the time if you are applying internally for a role, the role will come with a pre-existing salary. If the salary is negotiable, yes, it will depend on your experience and tenure and yes, they will have a good idea of where you stand. In this case, you probably won’t have much leverage in negotiations, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try to secure the best possible salary for yourself. So study this article carefully and apply the principles we teach!

      Good luck,

      Mike

  • Sheila

    Reply Reply December 11, 2015

    I read your article and it was very helpful! I’ve always struggled with the salary question but now, after reading your article, I feel confident and now have the courage to negotiate my salary for what I’m worth.

    Thank you so much, Mike!!!

  • Jen

    Reply Reply January 6, 2016

    Thanks so much. This article gives me more confidence. I am in the process of negotiating an offer. I was stupid enough to put in my present job salary, which is too low for my expectation. They came up with a higher number but there is still a gap from my target number. I know I got lowballed on my present job, that is why I am looking for a new one. Now they called back and said they need an approval from their executive to pay me that rate.I got scheduled to meet with a higher executive to discuss about it. I am nervous, but I will be firm.

    • Mike Simpson

      Reply Reply January 6, 2016

      Jen,

      It sounds like you’re playing this the right way, good work! Just be sure not to push them too hard if you really want the job. There will be other opportunities for you to improve your salary down the road… I’d hate for them to choose another applicant if they think you won’t be somewhat flexible.

      Let us know how it goes.

      Mike

  • Gloria

    Reply Reply January 9, 2016

    Hallo Mike,

    Thanks so much. This article is very helpful.

    Wish me luck on my two interviews Next week!

    • Mike Simpson

      Reply Reply January 11, 2016

      Gloria,

      Best of luck! I’m confident that if you use what we’ve taught you, you’ll have a lot of success!

      Let us know how it goes.

      Mike

  • Geoffrey

    Reply Reply January 11, 2016

    In my application, I left all the salary and hourly ranges blank–I didn’t read this article first. The jobs are all from years ago. I’m to go in this week for a second interview. How shall I address the blank boxes?

  • Dee

    Reply Reply January 26, 2016

    I applied for a staff position at a university with a published range of $30,049 (minimum) / $40,458 (midpoint) / $51,882 (maximum). I was contacted for an interview via e-mail and the hiring manager stated the salary for the position is $30,049. I found this odd, as salary is usually not discussed until after the interview at the time an offer is made.

    I responded that I was available for an interview but did not address the salary. In my opinion, I need to go through the interview process and sell myself before I have any leverage to negotiate the salary. I am well-qualified for the position in terms of experience, skills, and education (Master’s Degree). I would like to negotiate for $39,000. How would I go about doing this?

    Do you think I would be too far apart from what they have in mind? I am wondering if I should even go through with the interview, as I do not want to waste time for all parties involved.

    Thanks in advance for you input.

    • Mike Simpson

      Reply Reply April 26, 2016

      Dee,

      Generally speaking, when the manager goes out of his way to tell you the salary before you even interview, it means that they have budgeted that amount for the position and do not plan on moving off of it. This often happens with entry level jobs that they anticipate will receive a lot of applications, allowing them to set the rate and let the candidates fight it out. It’s kind of the “If you don’t want the job, someone else will happily take it…” mentality.

      If the stated salary is an absolute no-go for you, then you need to ask up front if the salary is set or if there will be some room for negotiating based on experience, tenure, hard data (your results, i.e. sales numbers), or any other quantifiable characteristic.

      Here’s the thing. If you don’t ask at the beginning and you make it all the way through to the end and then try and negotiate, you run the risk of the hiring manager saying, “I told you what the salary was before you interviewed.”

      The flipside is, if you are desperate to get this particular job and you start asking about salary at the beginning, the hiring manager might rule you out right at the beginning knowing that you are going to want more money.

      You ultimately have to make the decision as to what is more important to you… the job, or $9000 over the year.

      Hope this helps.

      Mike

  • Charles Johnson

    Reply Reply January 29, 2016

    Excellent article to help you negotiate the “minefields” of the job search maze.

    • Jeff

      Reply Reply January 29, 2016

      Thank you Charles!

  • Kenneth Kgechane

    Reply Reply February 2, 2016

    Dear Sir,

    I had an emails interview with on of the company that I could not want to mention the name. on those emails exchanges, I was asked about my salary expectation,and I provide the figure which above my current salary. they requested my payslip and I gave them the payslip as requsted. After they have seen my payslip, I was call to meet the director of the company for interview. on our discutions, we never reached the point to discuss the salary, and I am called again to meet the warehouse mabager for that company.

    Is it adviceable to raise the salary question on second interview?

    Regards,

    Kenneth

    • Jeff

      Reply Reply February 2, 2016

      Hi Kenneth,

      Yes your second interview is now a perfect time to raise the question of salary. Good luck!

  • D

    Reply Reply February 2, 2016

    Hello,

    Your articles are great. I am currently in the interview process. I have had 2 phone interviews and 1 in person. The hiring manager, on the first phone interview, asked me about salary and I gave him a range, to which his response was positive. But I am worried I may have low balled, sense I was not expecting to have to answer right out of the gate. Can I send an email, now that I have been called back for a 3 third in person interview, revisiting my salary range with the hiring manager?

    Thanks, D.

    • Mike Simpson

      Reply Reply February 2, 2016

      D,

      This is a tricky one. Unfortunately, if you change your salary expectations at this stage of the interview you run the risk of eliminating yourself from contention. This is the trouble with giving an unprepared answer at the beginning of the process… it almost locks you in for the future and makes it difficult to go back.

      If you refuse to work for the amount that you initially gave, then perhaps you should be honest with the hiring manager now. But you have to accept the fact that they may not want to bring you in anymore.

      If you really need the job though, I would be careful about changing your salary expectations at this stage.

      Hope this helps.

      Mike

  • Alyanna

    Reply Reply February 5, 2016

    Hi sir it is my first to go on a job fair.. i just want to know if what should ive bring is it only a resume and My TOR (transcript of record)..

    • Mike Simpson

      Reply Reply February 5, 2016

      Yes, you want to bring several copies of your resume. However, if you plan on applying for different types of jobs, you should bring different resumes for those different jobs. Why? Because your resume will be 100 times more powerful if it is tailored to the position you are applying for.

      Good luck!

      Mike

  • Olivia

    Reply Reply February 7, 2016

    Hello,
    I got offered a position and the pay is the same as my last job. I accepted the position and didn’t even think about asking about merit/performance raises/appraisals. How could I bring that up now without it seeming rude?
    Thanks!

    • Mike Simpson

      Reply Reply February 10, 2016

      Olivia,

      Unfortunately this is a conversation you should have had before the offer stage. You can bring it up now, but you do run the risk of leaving a sour taste in the mouth of the hiring manager.

      The best thing to do is to wait for your first performance review and ask how you can hit some of these performance bonuses in the upcoming review period.

      Make sense?

      Mike

  • Raj Malhotra

    Reply Reply February 14, 2016

    Thanks for this. I have heard that the “don’t ask about salary in the first interview” rule was slowly being made obsolete, but now I can confirm that I’m not the only one who believes it. What is it about employers who still live by this rule? Somehow they believe they have all the power when it comes to hiring, and that interviewing is a one-way road only where the employer controls everything? It’s ridiculous. If an interviewer can ask me piercing questions about what specific things I did at prior job X and what particular accomplishments I have from prior job Y, I should be able to ask what the heck the interviewer’s company can afford to pay me. Don’t drag me along interview after interview just to give me some low-ball offer when I could just save my energy and focus for other employers who can pay me what I’m actually worth! Money is an important concern for both parties, and it just makes common sense to talk about it. If you make it taboo, you are basically taking away the employee’s negotiating power.

  • Therese

    Reply Reply February 14, 2016

    Hello,

    Thanks much for the article. I’m in, what I think is, a unique situation. I’m a Nanny. a high-end, well paid Nanny. I have gotten my past positions through agencies but am currently in negotiations with a family I met outside an agency. They have asked me back for a 2nd interview and we have yet to discuss salary. I know their previous nannies came from less than reputable agencies but I don’t think they are aware of my salary range. I want to inform them of my range before seeing them again and wasting everyone’s time. Do you think it is wise?

    • Mike Simpson

      Reply Reply February 15, 2016

      If you have a salary in mind that is the bare minimum level for what you will work for, then yes, you need to bring it up now. Otherwise, as you said, you are wasting everyone’s time. Now if this salary is a bit flexible and you anticipate their offer will fall into your range, then you can wait a little longer until you feel it is appropriate to begin the salary discussion.

      Mike

  • Jay C.

    Reply Reply February 18, 2016

    Hi Mike,

    Thank you so much for everything you have provided on this website. I wished I came across this website earlier as I just finished my second (and last interview) with a new company I hope to work for. I believe I made a little mistake by not even asking how much the salary is at the end my interview. For the first round on interview, it was HR and a Manager and my second round interview was with the same Manager and Director. Is it too late to ask for a salary or should I just wait to see what they will be offering me and negotiate from there?

    Thank you!

    Jay C.

    • Jeff

      Reply Reply February 19, 2016

      Hi Jay,

      I’ve spoken with Mike about your situation and we both agree that at this point, since both interviews have already taken place, you should just sit tight and wait for their offer. Once they make their offer you can negotiate from there…

  • Marcus

    Reply Reply March 19, 2016

    Kudos Jeff & Mike, this is a helpful guide for a sensitive topic that I’m sure to refer to the next time I go looking for employment. Keep up the good work!

    • Jeff

      Reply Reply March 19, 2016

      I’m glad we could help Marcus!

  • H

    Reply Reply March 23, 2016

    Thanks for the great guide! I do have a question regarding salary negotiations. I am currently looking for a job in an area where the cost of living is significantly lower than where I am currently working (think DC to Louisville area – it’s about half the cost). I am comfortable with the salary I currently make, but am unsure if companies in the new area would be able to match it. I don’t necessarily want to take a pay cut, so how would you suggest I approach the salary topic? Would this be an appropriate situation to actually divulge my current salary?

    • Jeff

      Reply Reply March 23, 2016

      Hi there,

      Yes in this case I definitely think divulging your current salary is appropriate. If you’re not willing to take the pay cut then you definitely need to be up front with that fact and avoid wasting yours and their time. A good time to bring it up can be in a follow up email after an initial phone interview. Otherwise, you can feel free to bring it up in the first in person interview as we discuss in the article.

      Good luck!

  • Jay

    Reply Reply May 12, 2016

    Hi! Thanks for the guide. I just got home from an initial interview and I was asked by the interviewer if what is my salary expectation. It kinda felt weird being asked by that because I always thought that it’s always ask on the second or third interview. Btw, this is my first time applying for a job.

    • Mike Simpson

      Reply Reply May 13, 2016

      No problem Jay! Yes, the salary question can be a bit uncomfortable but I’m glad you found us.

      Mike

  • Ken

    Reply Reply May 26, 2016

    After a phone interview, I had an interview today (in 3 phases with 3 people) and it went good… Your tailoring method gavee incredible focus.

    …but I’ve realized now that I’ve made some mistakes. First, I’ve been asked twice about salary expectations (one sent with cover letter and the second over the phone interview), but it never came up during today’s interview and I blanked it.

    I also forgot to ask clarification if I’m driving my vehicle around town or the company’s.

    And of course I put down my current salary on the application…

    So, despite a good interview with a good company with a role I am fit for, I am moping, if I get the job, that I will not be compensated fairly (even considering the detail of using my own car) because I didn’t handle this right.

    How do I possibly fix this? If I am offered the job, how to I respectfully decline on matters of pay? Or if I like the the number, ask concerning the details of vehicle expenses?

    • Mike Simpson

      Reply Reply May 26, 2016

      Ken,

      This question comes up often.

      Here’s the deal. You have to decide how badly you want the job. Because if you get an offer, it is going to be based on what has (or hasn’t) been discussed in terms of salary. You can’t really start negotiating once the offer stage has arrived (it happens occasionally, but normally only with applicants that are very tenured and have negotiating power), so you almost need to accept the offer at that point.

      You certainly should have brought up your salary and car requirements at an earlier stage. If they are deal-breakers for you, then I suggest you get in touch with the hiring manager now and let them know. But you should know that this could take you out of the running for the position.

      So you have to decide, how badly do you need this job?

      Hope this helps.

      – M

  • Elizabeth

    Reply Reply May 27, 2016

    Your article is so informative, thank you! I only wish I had found it sooner since it’s provided some really great insight. I have a second interview coming up and am not certain if I have any negotiating power left at this point. At the end of the first in-person interview I was informed, by the sales manager, the starting salary will be much lower than I expected. Their job listing stated the pay rate would DOE. I figured I’d be an ideal candidate whose salary would be commensurate with my experience, skills, degree, etc. So the low ball figure definitely caught me off guard. As a side note, I mistakenly listed my previous salary range on the job application. (Thankfully it’s the last time that will happen!) I agreed to a second interview thinking it would allow me the opportunity to go into more detail about what I can do for the company and the expertise I’ll bring to this position. I’m no longer willing to settle for a job that’s outside of my target salary and hoping they’ll be open to negotiation. But now I can’t help wondering if it’s worth taking the second interview? I don’t want to waste my time, or theirs, if it’s a moot point. Thanks for your advice in advance!

    • Jeff

      Reply Reply May 27, 2016

      Hi Elizabeth,

      Well I think you may have answered your own question! 🙂 If you aren’t willing t work for the lower salary then it may not be worth going to. The best time to have brought up salary would have been in that conversation about the second interview.
      Having said that, you could go to the second interview and raise your salary concerns then… (after nailing the interview and showing them how perfect you are for the job of course!) Honestly, it just depends on where you are at in your job search… Are you getting a lot of interviews, are there other opportunities around the corner? If so, then maybe it’s fine to pass. However, if not then maybe it’s worth a shot trying to make a case for a higher salary in the room…

      Good luck!

  • Sharona

    Reply Reply May 27, 2016

    Love your article, but I’ve got a unique situation. I had my first interview with a company that I REALLY want to work for. Pay was not discussed at all; however, they required me to fill out an application in which they requested final salary levels at my former employers. I was paid a substantial wage by my last two employers. I fear that listing my salary will discourage this potential employer from calling me back for a second interview. I want to work for this company so much that I am willing to take a significant pay cut just to get in the door. I am in the process of writing a “Thank You” letter for the initial interview process. Would it be appropriate to include verbiage such as “While salary range was not discussed during our interview, I wanted to make you aware that I am flexible. While my ending salary level at Company 1 and Company 2 were substantial and a testimony to the benefits I brought to each company, if offered a position with your organization, I would not expect the same salary level to initially be offered.”

    • Jeff

      Reply Reply May 30, 2016

      Hi Sharona,

      I think this is a great approach! You’re simultaneously showing your value evidenced by your past salary and your passion for this particular company.

  • Anonymous

    Reply Reply July 11, 2016

    THANK U SO MUCH FOR THIS!!

  • Jean

    Reply Reply July 17, 2016

    Hi Jeff,
    I am learning so much from you and am thankful. Here is my situation.
    I am looking to advance in my present company, I interviewed, was told that I was by far their top person, yes.. I got the job! However, the salary was an insult. so I declined. So did everyone else they interviewed.Fast forward, now months later, the job was reposted, I called to speak with HR. but no response. they did however set another interview time for me.. How do I follow through with this interview? Help?

    Jean

    • Jeff

      Reply Reply July 18, 2016

      Hi Jean,

      You need to set your expectations early in the interview process. The fact that there was no response from HR sounds fishy…as in they may just have hoped enough time has passed and will roll out the same low ball offer. Since you’ve already been through this process I think its fair and in your best interest to politely raise the salary issue in your first interview. I do think it’s worth another call into HR to try and get some clarity on the salary number. If still nothing, you can go in and raise the issue. Good luck! At least they like you and you got the job!

  • Maria

    Reply Reply September 2, 2016

    Quick question … what if you’ve low balled your salary requirements on a phone interview. How can you save yourself on your second interview?

    • Mike Simpson

      Reply Reply September 2, 2016

      Maria,

      Once you’ve established a salary that is acceptable to you, it is tough to go back. You can try, but you will risk being taken out of the running. You have to decide what is more important to you… getting the job or making a certain wage?

      Let me know how it goes.

      Mike

  • Maria

    Reply Reply October 24, 2016

    I am so grateful I found your website. I’m getting ready to do a panel interview after a phone interview. How should I go about asking for salary/benefit before the second interview? Is it appropriate to do it via email or should I just wait until the panel/2nd interview.

    Thanks again for all your help

    • Mike Simpson

      Reply Reply October 24, 2016

      Maria,

      There is no right or wrong way to ask about salary/benefits, because it tends to be different in every situation depending on a variety of factors.

      If a certain salary level is essential to you accepting a given position, then it is always best to discuss this with the interviewer near the beginning of the process in order to save everyone some time. A lot of companies will have the salary for the position set (especially for entry level positions), and if your requirements don’t fit their budget, then it might not be a fit.

      Ideally you would have discussed this topic at the end of your phone interview, but since you didn’t, it’s probably best that you wait until the the next stage of the interview process. Having said that, if you had a decent rapport with the Hiring Manager and you don’t feel that they would find an email annoying, I don’t see a huge problem in inquiring about the salary. As I said before, if it isn’t to your liking, you’ll be saving everyone time and they will appreciate that.

      Hope this helps.

      Mike

  • Mitch L

    Reply Reply November 3, 2016

    Hey Guys! This was very well written and was super insightful for my preparation of interviews coming up. Thank you for helping me find confidence in bartering for the proper salary, if I land this 100k+ job, I will surely be sending over a box of chocolates 🙂

    • Jeff

      Reply Reply November 8, 2016

      Haha thanks Mitch! p.s. I love Turtles 😉

  • CP

    Reply Reply January 20, 2017

    Hello, and thank you for this article, great advice.

    I once had a 3 interview process, the first of which started with a phone call with the HR manager asking me my salary expectations, the last ending with the VP offering me the position. Everything seemed wonderful – until I opened the offer letter.

    At the time I had been freelancing for many years, the salary figure I gave was in $/per hour, not per year. This somehow got lost in translation, and they made me an offer of my hourly figure – but for a yearly salary.

    This was MUCH lower than I had anticipated, and put me in an extremely embarrassing and awkward situation. I politely explained the mix up via email to the VP in my response to the letter. His response was the dreaded, “what are you making now?” question. Of course, I threw out the number I wanted to be making at the time. He then demanded I send him my tax forms to verify before they changed their offer.

    I had to respectfully decline at that point. That was the end of that. It was such a let down, the whole thing took so much of my time/energy. I now make sure to state very clearly if my salary is per year or per hour, as I hope people reading this will too, and not make that same mistake and lose out on a potentially great job.

    Hindsight, you should RUN from any company who requires your past compensation to determine your worth and does not value your qualifications and experience. This just shows they already don’t trust you and will never appreciate the value you can offer their company if hired.

    Cheers!

    • Jeff

      Reply Reply February 3, 2017

      Wow thank you so much for sharing that story with us and our readers CP. Valuable lesson to be learned.

  • Tosin

    Reply Reply February 8, 2017

    I enjoyed reading this article.I find it very insightful. I love the practical examples and illustrations. Sadly, I just concluded an interview where I politely declined to answer questions on my salary expectation. Now I fear that they ll offer very low pay. Through research, I know their salary structure and I am OK with it. I can’t help thinking my indecisiveness is a minus for me. If they offer less do you think I can renegotiate after getting the offer. I also really need the job so I won’t want to lose the opportunity regardless of the pay.
    Thanks

  • Danielle

    Reply Reply March 1, 2017

    Hi!

    This is a wonderful article with great advice! I do have a follow-up question. One of your first pieces of advice is to NOT wait until the end of an interview process to negotiate.

    Unfortunately, I have gotten myself in a situation where I have finished the interview process and now they are asking me when I would be available to start.. however, I would like to talk about the salary and benefits and I was holding off because I did not know when would be a good time to bring this up. Do you have any suggestions?

    Thank you!
    Danielle 🙂

    • Mike Simpson

      Reply Reply March 6, 2017

      Danielle,

      Yes, this is a tough situation. It sounds like they assume that you are okay with the salary they are offering for the position. Was this communicated in the job posting? Or in the interview perhaps?

      If you absolutely CAN NOT work for the amount they are offering, then you need to say so. However, in bringing this up you do risk the possibility of being taken out of the running for the position.

      Having said that, you can carefully bring it up by saying that you were under the impression there would be some discussion of compensation prior to accepting the offer. Be prepared for them to take a hard line and not budge on the offer, especially if this was communicated earlier in the interview process.

      Hope this helps.

      – Mike

  • Debbie

    Reply Reply March 16, 2017

    I’m going for a one-shot interview tomorrow. It’s in a new industry that I’m transitioning into after some study and 8 months of networking. I come from an executive level in another field and this job is for an entry-level job in their sector. The industry standard salary for the job i’m interviewing for is very low. Can I still negotiate salary? I don’t want to sell myself short, but I don’t have any exact experience in the work itself.
    Thoughts?

    • Jeff

      Reply Reply March 16, 2017

      You absolutely can still negotiate salary. It’s certainly worth using our advice in the above article and use it to negotiate a salary on the higher end of the position’s range!

  • Debbie

    Reply Reply March 16, 2017

    Oh, and excuse my bad manners – thank you for the very informative advice. Whether I receive the job offer or advice above or not, your article was extremely helpful and gave me a inner dialogue that will certainly enable me to come to the table with confidence. Thank you.

  • Teresa

    Reply Reply April 19, 2017

    Thank you! Great article! I have a different situation where I interviewed for a job (server/waitress) and was unexpectedly offered an opportunity to be trained as a manager. I agreed to think about it and meet with the general manager as well to meet everyone, meanwhile, after meeting with this manager I agreed to work on the floor to learn the ropes and give all a chance to try each other out before training as a manager and never discussed salary. Do you have any suggestions about when/how to go about discussing salary of manager position? I really want the job but need to be paid at least a certain amount.

    • Jeff

      Reply Reply May 1, 2017

      Hi Teresa,

      Since you were initially going to interview for a server position, it’s as simple as something like: “How does a manager’s pay differ from a server/waitress?”.

  • Rick

    Reply Reply May 16, 2017

    I’m applying for a job that posted a salary range with the job description. It is not an entry-level job, and I am very qualified for it. How do I negotiate salary when a range is given up front? Do I go for the top amount and negotiate from there? Do I go for higher than the top amount?

    • Mike Simpson

      Reply Reply May 18, 2017

      Rick,

      You can certainly go for the top amount, but be prepared to provide concrete examples of why you deserve it, including past salaries/earning, length of tenure or experience, qualifications, level of education, etc. They will only pay at the top end if they feel you deserve it!

      – Mike

  • Chloe

    Reply Reply July 5, 2017

    Hello!

    Your article is really good. It is such a shame I read this only after blurting out all information.

    I was on a quick discussion with the recruiting advisor and she asked how much I got paid in my first job and I told them $45k. I honestly think that I am being underpaid for the amount of job that I do. And I know that once they find out how much we are making previously, they are very less likely to increase it by more than 10%. How do I deal with this? Given that my aim is $55k.

    Help please!

    • Mike Simpson

      Reply Reply July 6, 2017

      Chloe,

      You can’t hide from your current salary. It is what it is. If you believe you should be earning more, you have to be able to prove why… and it needs to be quantifiable. Use numbers to show how you have directly contributed to the growth of the business. And if you can’t use numbers, try to find another quantifiable factor you have contributed to.

      Furthermore, if 55k is what you feel that you need to earn, you need to be prepared to stick to your guns. If they can’t pay you that much, you need to stay firm. Now, this means there is a chance you won’t get the job, so try to have some other plans should this happen.

      Hope this helps.

      – M

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