4 Tips for Salary Negotiations During the Interview Process

4 Tips for Salary Negotiations During the Interview Process was originally published on Idealist Careers.

Ah, money. We all think about it plenty, but it can be so uncomfortable to bring up in conversation—especially when the topic is that you deserve more of it! When it comes to negotiating your salary for a new job, though, it’s critical that you find a way to confidently and appropriately dive into the conversation. 

It can be hard to determine when, how, and if you should bring up salary during the job interview process, but with preparation and confidence, you’ll be able to advocate for yourself when the time comes. 

Do your research 

Doing your research can give you a good starting point, as well as the extra boost of confidence that comes from truly knowing your stuff! Salary tools like Idealist’s Nonprofit Salary Explorer can be a valuable resource for your research process. 

You can also review what wording and tactics are most appropriate and effective for different points in the process

Don’t be afraid to talk about money 

The truth is, the “right” time to bring up salary may vary depending on the job and the interview process. It has become more common for the topic to come up as early as the initial pre-screen interview, and more and more states are even requiring employers to list a salary range in the job listing.

If your interviewer brings it up, answer honestly. If they raise the topic of salary and you feel comfortable starting that conversation (and are prepared to do so), go for it! A good time to raise the topic is at the very end of your interview when your interviewer shares what the next steps will be in the hiring process. You can ask a question, like “would you be able to give me an idea of the salary range for this position, just to make sure we’re on the same page?” 

If you think you should wait to discuss salary, follow your instincts. If you can afford to wait it out, or you already have an idea of the salary, you may choose to kick the can a bit and wait until you have an offer. Even though it shouldn’t be, bringing up salary too early in an interview process (especially depending on your timing and delivery) can be a bit off-putting for an interviewer.

If you do discuss compensation, I recommend speaking in terms of a range rather than a specific dollar amount. This will give you some flexibility as the interview process progresses. Consider putting the number you want at the lower end of the range, and then going up 5-10% from there. For example, rather than asking for a static $50,000, consider saying that you’re looking in the $50,000-$55,000 range, and that you may be flexible when benefits are taken into consideration (if that’s true for you). 

Pro Tip: Now that more states are requiring employers to include salary range in job listings, there’s a good chance that you’ll already know where to set initial salary expectations before submitting an application. That’s progress!

Discuss your salary range with tact and confidence

You’ve done your research, so take comfort in the knowledge that you know what you’re talking about. Be diplomatic, but don’t behave as if you’re doing something wrong; speak calmly and authoritatively. In fact, you can even say something like “I wanted to check in about compensation for this role to see if it lines up with my expectations and the compensation research I’ve already done.” Just be ready to give them an answer if they happen to ask what your research uncovered. 

Also keep in mind that your salary potential does not need to be anchored in your salary history. In fact, an increasing number of states are making it illegal for employers to ask about salary histories in an attempt to move away from structural pay inequalities. Being underpaid by former employers shouldn’t sentence you to a cycle of low salaries moving forward. 

Negotiate politely—but clearly 

Once a hiring manager has made an offer, no will be surprised to hear that you want to negotiate. It doesn’t mean they can or will play along, but it’s your right to bring up salary and advocate for yourself. Try to strike a balance between showing an understanding of where they’re coming from and reiterating your own talking points.

Something like, “I understand what you’re saying, and I’m willing to discuss it. I do want to talk about how we can move toward $60,000. It’s the market value for the role, and it’s where I should be based on my experience and achievements,” shows that you’re listening but you also know your worth. 

If you try to negotiate and an employer makes it clear that they won’t budge on money, you still have options. Consider negotiating other benefits like flex time, title changes, or better projects. Ask how potential future raises or bonuses might work, or about opportunities for growth, and try to get anything they’re able to offer you in writing. If they can’t give you answers that are sustainable for your life and wellbeing, ask yourself if this is the right fit. 

Compensation is important. Know your worth, and ask for it.