How to: Negotiate salary

Interview success isn’t just about how well you answer the questions…

Of course, selling yourself to a prospective employer is vital in helping prove you’re the right person for the role.  But you shouldn’t forget that an interview is a two-way process – and part of that is ensuring you’re getting paid the right amount for your services.

We’ve already covered how to negotiate a payrise, but here’s our guide on how to negotiate salary at an interview:


You’re interviewing the company too

First thing’s first: you need to remember that your interview isn’t all about you.

And no matter how badly you want the job, there’s a reason the employer advertised it in the first place. They’re searching for the right person to fill one of their roles, and they’re often looking to sell themselves to you as much as you are to them.

In other words, you are under absolutely no obligation to accept any offers on the table. Go in with a clear idea of what you think you’re worth, and use that as your benchmark.


Remember to do your research

Knowing what you’re worth doesn’t just come down to own abilities. You need context.

So before you start putting a value on your services, always make sure you do your research. What’s the average pay for your position? What are salaries like in your location? And how big is the business you’re looking to work for?

Knowing the answers to these, and other similar questions, will help you get that magic figure in mind.


There’s a pay scale for a reason

Newsflash: most salaries aren’t set in stone.

Even if a figure is stated in the job description, most jobs come with an unstated pay scale that the employer considers appropriate to different skillsets and levels of experience.  That scale may be quite wide, and the difference between the top and bottom levels could potentially be by as much as several thousand pounds.

In other words, if you feel as if the salary (or minimum salary) on offer doesn’t match your level of expertise, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for more. Just make sure you’re able to back up your demands with your relevant achievements and experience.

How to negotiate a job offer

Sell yourself

Your prospective employer might already have a salary in mind when you attend the interview, but that will be based solely on what they’ve read in your CV.

Now that you’re face-to-face, it’s your chance to really shine and demonstrate why you’re such a good fit for the job and, therefore, worthy of a salary at the top end of the range.

So throughout the interview, always aim to demonstrate your accomplishments with as much context as you can. It may sound obvious, but with the right amount of confidence and passion around what you’ve achieved, you’ll constantly be able to demonstrate the value your hire could have.

And always quantify what you say. No exceptions.


When to bring it up

OK, so there’s nothing wrong with talking about salary at an interview. But it’s all about picking the right moment.

In most cases, you can use your actual interview as the guide. Some employers may want to go straight into talking about numbers. But the best approach is usually to allow some time to build up rapport, and relax into it – not to mention give yourself time to adequately sell your skills.

Generally speaking, discussions about salary take place towards the end of the interview, just before you’re asked to offer up any questions of your own.

And if they do bring it up early? Don’t shy away. State how much you’d realistically be looking for, and why you think that figure is right.

Should I ask about salary at my interview?


Don’t just think about the money

Finally, never think of salary as the be-all and end-all.

There are numerous other incentives which may be offered as part of the package, such as bonuses and commission, childcare schemes, subsidised transport and paid learning and development. Although some of these office perks might not be deal makers, they could still go a long way at improving your financial position.

And it isn’t all about the money. If the opportunity is right for you, taking a slightly reduced salary in the short term could pay dividends when it comes to your career. Once you’ve built up a good level of experience, you’ll then be in a much better position to push for higher earnings.


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