5 Tactics To Handle A Job Interview Salary Negotiation

“What’s the best way to bring up salary?”

“What’s the best way to bring up salary, and how do I negotiate to make the most of the opportunity?” It’s a fair question. In fact, a Salary.com survey of 1000 employers showed that 73% of them EXPECT a job interview salary negotiation with a candidate. 

But it’s the one thing candidates are most afraid to do. I get it! On the one hand, you don’t want to undervalue yourself. And on the other, you don’t want to over price yourself right out of the offer.

There is a way to do a salary negotiation that will provide you with more leverage. It’s adding a new twist on an old way of thinking.  

A different way to look at salary negotiation

It’s important to leverage your talent to justify your salary request. Yet, most people leave this step out when they begin negotiating. If the only thing playing in your mind is the number you want to reach, you limit your chances of achieving it. 

You’re wondering, about now, what’s so different about this? Of course, I want to leverage my talent. 

The real magic happens when you change your perspective to the employer’s side. I know, it sounds counterintuitive, but follow me on this.

It’s all in the ROI

You are an investment. An organization offering you a position is committing to making an investment in YOU. The goal is to make that investment worthwhile.  Like any investment, your aim should be to provide a return.

To do that, calculate the quantifiable value that you bring to the table. You’ve already listed it on your resume, now hone in on it even more. 

Create your value proposition. Not a ‘social media fake’ value proposition but real value. What is the return the employer will get when they invest in you? 

Know that value. Believe in that value, and negotiate based on that value. Base your negotiation on what you offer THEM, not a salary that sounds good and you think you’d like to earn. And do this in a way that isn’t arrogant or annoying. This is how to negotiate salary in an interview.

Negotiating tactics with a value proposition twist

Let’s take a look at some common tactics of a job interview salary negotiation. And as we do it, let’s determine how to spin it to give ROI to the employer. 

Tactic 1. Go first

It’s a bold move to throw out the first number but it sets a stage. It shows you know your value. And some studies show that it creates an “anchor”. In other words the mere mention of that first number sets the stage for all future negotiations. Our goal is to show what’s in it for the employer.  That means, you’ve done your homework and you know what the position is worth. It also means you know exactly what the employer wants to get from this engagement. If they want someone who can improve retention by 25%, you should be able to justify that you can do that, and more. It needs to be with quantifiable examples of where you’ve already done it. 

Tactic 2. Set a minimum acceptable salary

Most people have a minimum when they begin the interview process. It should be a deal breaker. And not because it’s about your personal needs (although that’s true too). It should be a deal breaker because you know and you can show that the ROI meets or exceeds your minimum. Remember, it’s an investment. If you know that the investment in you is going to produce the minimum, don’t go below it. 

Tactic 3. Ask for 15 – 25% more

As you sit back and consider an offer, ask yourself “what would this employer expect from me to pay me this rate?” And THEN, ask… “can I offer even more?”

Let’s say an employer offers you $150k.  You know, and you can prove, you can produce work product and results to justify that number. What is the quantifiable EXTRA you can produce to justify asking for more? If you can show you can produce 20% more, provide specific examples of how you’ll do that when you counter.

Tactic 4. Ask for a signing bonus

Most companies have salary ranges. And if you’re asking for more than the highest end of the range, it can make it hard for the hiring manager. Now they have to explain to the powers that be why they want to go outside the range. Make it easy. A signing bonus gets you more money to walk in the door. And it doesn’t mess up the ranges.

But you have to show that you’ll bring the ROI for that bonus. What quick wins can you bring to the table. And again, I mean quantifiable and provable that you can do in the first 90 days.

Tactic 5. Look beyond a yes or no answer

Full job interview salary negotiations shouldn’t be binary. And sometimes an employer needs a little more proof. If it’s a job you want and one you can do well, it might be worth the wait. See if you can negotiate a guaranteed increase after 90 days if you hit specific targets. 

The job interview salary negotiation take-away

The key thing to remember when deciding how to negotiate wages in an interview is that employers are willing to pay for results. And when you focus your negotiation on the results you can deliver, you’ll have more success.

Because like any investment, it’s all about ROI.

Need help with preparing for your next interview? Let’s chat about the Interview Skills Program.

Looking for a career transition or to create a bigger impact in your current careerSpeaker and coach Cynthia Corsetti can guide you in Executive LeadershipCareer Transition and Interview Skills. Connect with her on InstagramLinkedIn. and Facebook


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