“What are your salary expectations?”  is the interview question that you should expect and have a prepared response ready to present. For help in preparing that response, see Day 2 of this article series on What Are You Worth.

You get the Job Offer:

After completing your interview sessions, the Hiring Manager calls with an offer and you are packing your bags… except you were actually expecting a higher salary, about $10,000 more. You have two ways to increase your compensation: negotiating your Base Salary or negotiating your benefits and perks.  The question is: Do you have the negotiating skills to get to an agreement for additional compensation? 

In order to prepare for that negotiation, it helps to have thought through the most basic salary negotiation question for you to ask and to ask in a manner that sets a positive context for your discussions.

“Thank you so much for the offer. I have looked carefully at the offer and have some considerations I’d like to share. Is the salary open to negotiation?”

Always acknowledge and show gratitude for the original offer. Be respectful, and assume the offer is made with the best knowledge and understanding that the company has of your talent and your hiring situation.  By asking if salary negotiation is possible, you are demonstrating your desire to find a solution that meets both parties’ goals: the company wants to hire you and you want to work for this company at a fair and equitable pay. 

If the hiring manager invites your discussion, you should first state that it would be helpful for you to understand how the salary was determined. Listen carefully to the entire presentation on the offer. DO NOT INTERRPUT if you hear something that is “wrong” from your perspective.  WAIT! Acting at the first opportunity to “correct the offer” may result in missing and even better opportunity that is later in the discussion.

“Thank you for that explanation. I think I understand your position and would like to explore 2 points if I may and get your feedback.”  Acknowledge the work that has gone into their offer.  DO NOT LIKE OR DISLIKE THE OFFER AT THIS TIME.  Instead, set the agenda for not more than 3 points to discuss.  Even if you have 6 points, saying 6 would be overwhelming and could result in the company just giving up on you.  If you can discuss 2 or 3 points and make negotiation progress, then you can introduce your other points if they are still relevant.

“In my analysis of this job, I broke the job into technical, operations and team task.  In my resume and during the interviews, I gave work experience examples that demonstrated I have done this work at a competent performance level. I do look forward to learning your logistics and project management protocols that support this job. I determined that I was close to the midpoint in the salary range for this job which would be about another 10,000 dollars.  Can you help me understand your valuation basis?”  

If you can get agreement that you are worth another $10,000 dollars in Base Salary, then your first approach to the salary offer should be to increase your base pay.  Base pay will be with you for as long as you work in this company.  Your second choice would be for the company to pay you another $10,000 dollars as a sign-on bonus or performance bonus. We will investigate that in Day 5 of What Are You Worth.

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