Salary Negotiation And The Interview Process

Salary negotiation is an art that relies heavily on timing; bring it up too early and you may lose out to competition, bring it up a little late and you may be given a raw deal.

Generally, loyalty although revered and appreciated by most employers, isn’t rewarded very well. Existing ‘loyal’ employees often find themselves struggling to even match the salaries given to new hires, let alone being rewarded for sticking with the organization. It’s no wonder that salary ranks the numbers two reason for attrition, second only to working with bad managers.

For all working individuals, even if it isn’t the reason for the job change, salary is a crucial factor that could decide on the fate of the job application. It is this anxiety that pushes many job seekers to get salary negotiation out of the way – not the right approach.

Here are the key points to remember -


The best negotiators are those who can think from the other person’s point of view. Understand that for the employer to make you an intelligent offer, they will first have to gauge your competency and fitment. Asking for a salary number before you prove your value proposition will not yield an accurate number.

Employers understand the importance of a good pay check and once you’ve demonstrated that you are the best candidate for the job, they may automatically be willing to negotiate in your favor. Acing the job interview is the best way to prove your mettle, so keep the salary for after that meeting.


The interview process introduces many names and faces but not everyone has the power to decide, or even discuss, your enumeration. Be especially careful in the job interview where the interviewer’s objective is to assess you, not talk money. If it’s not on the agenda, you can only harm the final numbers by bringing up the topic.

It is safest to assume that the Human Resources contact is the person with whom you should start the talk about compensation.


Do Your Homework

Employees want the maximum possible salary while employers want to restrict; salary negotiation is a discussion that strikes a mutually acceptable deal between these two objectives.

Intelligent discussions are based on facts and a perspective of your ‘market value’ is definitely helpful. While it may be difficult to get precise numbers, try and get a range from peers, seniors or even recruiting agents.

A few aspects to consider should include cost of living, fixed and variable components, vacation and other non-monetary benefits.

Haste Equals Waste

Timing is the bread and butter of the true negotiator. You will most likely be asked, “How much are you expecting” or “What number do you have in mind”. Answer diplomatically with “I know that you are a great employer and I expect you to value me correctly.”

A surprising fact is that many of us undermine ourselves and by quoting a figure first, the negotiation starts at a lower level than where the employer would have begun.

Once you’ve done your research and know your minimum, stick to it. You may really want the job, but employers also really really want good employees.

Your Negotiating Power

Employers want great candidates and although they may try to strike a bargain it is important that you highlight your key strengths to substantiate your negotiation.

These are helpful pointers to build on -

  1. Key achievements
  2. Relevant professional skills
  3. Ability to take on more responsibility
  4. Soft skills such as communication and teamwork
  5. Flexibility to travel or work shifts
  6. Long term perspective (loyalty)


  1. Act desperate
  2. Seem indifferent (you have to show enthusiasm)
  3. Cook up fake offers with inflated salaries

Remember To

Weigh Opportunity vs Pay Check

Many job seekers err in judging a job only by the salary that they take home. Employment should be viewed as a long term engagement and before deciding on the offer consider factors such as job profile, organization work culture, growth and travel prospects, and learning opportunities.

Get It In Print

A job offer is a contract and like any other deal you must ensure that the promised terms and conditions are comprehensively reflected in writing. People and situations can change rapidly, and ambiguity will seldom work in your favor.

Not Burn Bridges

Know what you want and go for it; just in case things don’t work out, act gracefully. There are many considerations that determine the appointment of a candidate and several are not in control of the job seeker. The candidate cannot influence factors such as budget cuts and changes in management strategy.

If the decision is not in your favor thank the team and reiterate your enthusiasm towards the organization. Good candidates that are not selected are often kept in mind for future positions.

Negotiating salary is not solely about getting a higher number, it is about ensuring that you grasp a great opportunity and get rewarded well while converting the opportunity to success.