How to bring up salary questions and negotiate compensation in a job interview

Library | 1/20/2021
Negotiation


 
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Bringing up the subject of money can feel awkward during the job interview process. But it's no secret that money matters. After all, you likely aren't showing up day after day just for fun.

 

But for some reason, discussions about starting salaries are often avoided in the early stages of the hiring process. This mystery surrounding salary can be anxiety-provoking.

 

It may make you question whether you should address the "elephant in the room" or if you should just wait for your potential future employer to broach the subject.  

 

My strategy is to ask about salary early on. I say something like, "I want to be mindful of your time. I'm looking for a certain salary range. I want to make sure we're in the same ballpark before we continue."

   

I certainly don't want to waste anyone's time (including my own) with a lengthy hiring process if we have completely different expectations about salary. But throwing out the fact that I have a "range" also serves another purpose. It's a helpful psychological strategy that works really well.

    
   

Read more: Virtual salary negotiations require specific skills and a smooth touch. A Kellogg MBA professor shares 5 tactics for getting it right.


  

Offer a range

Stating a salary range isn't just something that works anecdotally. There's research that backs up the fact that it can get you a better deal.

   

The key though, is to make the number you want at the low end of your range.

    

Let's say you want to ask for $50,000. Say something like, "I'm really looking for a salary in the $50,000 to $54,000 range."

    

The hiring manager might meet you at the low end of your range — which in your case is the number you're actually going for.

    

But, they also might meet you in the middle. Researchers at Columbia University found that people who offered the $50,000 to $54,000 range were likely to negotiate better deals than those who simply said they wanted $52,000.

    

Your range needs to be reasonable, however. If you ask to get paid in the one to two million dollar range when your position is only worth $50,000, your strategy won't work.

   

Researchers say this strategy also won't work if your range is too big. The study found that the range should stay in the 20% percent range. So rather than say you want a job that pays $60,000 to $100,000, you're better off saying you want a job in the $60,000 to $72,000 range.

    

Offering a range doesn't hurt the relationship either. In fact, negotiators who receive a range tend to rate the other person as less aggressive and less stubborn as compared to people who just throw out one number.

    

You'll come across as polite and agreeable when you offer a range, and hiring managers are more likely to meet your terms when they like you.

     
   

Read more: An expert negotiator and professor at Columbia Law School offers the best strategy for negotiating a raise or promotion during a time of crisis

    
   

Get your range ready

You don't have to always have to say your range first. You can use it as your counter offer too.

    

If a hiring manager tosses out a number that's lower than you want, reply with your range. Say something like, "Thank you for letting me know. I was really hoping for something in the $75,000 to $90,000 range."

    

You can also use the range trick when you're buying something (like a car) or when you're selling something (like a piece of land). And while it might not work every single time, you might find it's a helpful tool that gives you more confidence as you walk into a negotiation. 

    
   

Read also: Here's what most people are talking to their online therapists about during this strange, stressful year


   

This article was written by Amy Morin from Business Insider and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.


 

 
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