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How to negotiate salary in an interview

Elizabeth Exline

Written by Elizabeth Exline

Jessica Roper

Reviewed by Jessica Roper, MBA, director of Career Services at University of Phoenix

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At a glance

  • Learning negotiation skills can aid in both the workplace and everyday life.
  • To negotiate salary, it is vital to do research ahead of time, exude confidence and be willing to work with the hiring manager to receive a fair compensation.
  • Negotiating for a higher salary can demonstrate your confidence and commitment to the role.

Salary negotiation can be essential in securing the job you want — and it pays to know how to do it. A Fidelity survey reveals that an overwhelming majority of Americans (85%) and even more professionals ages 25 to 35 (87%) have experienced success when negotiating a salary increase or additional benefits, or both. In most cases, those who requested adjustments to compensation and benefits received some of what they asked for. Therefore, it can be vital to understand how to effectively negotiate your salary even before the interview process begins.

Having a clear idea of the salary range and the level of compensation you’re willing to accept — and why — is important to be able to communicate with confidence what you’re looking for. In addition, for those who are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with salary negotiation, training can be beneficial. Negotiation training can increase your confidence and help you gain skills to effectively counter a salary offer, if necessary. Those skills can also help you negotiate other job details during an interview or when discussing employment opportunities, such as perks, paid time off, work-from-home opportunities and more.

How to negotiate salary

It’s important to remember that salary negotiation is a two-way street — employers don’t just want employees who will accept whatever is offered; they value people who will bring something to the table. If you’re unsure where to start, consider the following strategies to negotiate the salary you deserve.

Do your research

Before the process begins, consider researching the national salary range or average wage for the position you’re applying for. Knowing this is critical to establishing a baseline. Many websites, including Glassdoor and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, provide salary information based on industry, location and experience. These resources can provide helpful information to inform your negotiation process, like current salary trends, what employers are offering in similar positions and the highest compensation shown for a particular role.

In addition, companies that offer salary transparency can be beneficial when negotiating your pay. By understanding the salary range for a particular role, you can make an informed decision to ensure that what you’re asking for is reasonable.

Also, some companies may be willing to negotiate tuition reimbursement as part of their employee benefits packages. Finding jobs with tuition reimbursement may take some extra effort, but it can be worth the time if you’re looking for additional assistance in paying for your education.

Be confident

You must be confident when asking a hiring manager for a higher wage or better benefits. Practicing beforehand can help you avoid last-minute jitters. Consider leaning on any skills, industry certifications or advanced degrees that can be a salary talking point. If you’re confident in your knowledge and skills, hiring managers may be more inclined to negotiate a better salary.

Other ways to practice in negotiations include:

  • Role-playing with a friend or mentor
  • Simulating the actual negotiation with mock interviews
  • Developing a list of talking points and goals before the negotiation

At the same time, it’s important to remember that negotiation is an ongoing process — don’t just expect to get what you want right away. Instead, take your time and be patient; you may have to negotiate over multiple phone calls or visits.

Start higher

One of the best tips for negotiating a higher starting salary is to use a higher number in early conversations, within reason. That way, if the employer needs you to negotiate down, it won’t dip below your required living wage. Starting higher does not mean beginning outside the realm of possibility or reason; it simply gives you a cushion so that both parties can find common ground.

Other ways to know your worth and negotiate a higher wage include:

  • Understand what you’re offering and why it’s valuable to the employer
  • Know your market value and the value of similar positions in the same market or industry
  • Don’t show your hand first; wait for the employer to make an offer
  • Be prepared to walk away if your demands are not met
  • Be direct about what you want and be willing to explain your reasoning

Salary negotiation is an essential skill, both in the workplace and beyond. With practice and preparation, anyone can negotiate salary confidently — aiming not just for a higher wage but also for a benefits package that meets their needs.

Be willing to give and take

Negotiation often involves compromise, so be prepared to meet the employer in the middle. Be open to negotiations and consider different possibilities, such as additional vacation, relocation assistance or an increase in salary over time. In addition, be sure to ask more questions about the role before agreeing — that way, you can ensure the offer fits your needs.

Being willing to compromise can also give your employer peace of mind that, if hired, you’ll be easy to work with and have the same goals.

Determine your priorities

Regarding salary negotiations, know your priorities. Consider the trade-offs you’re willing to make when negotiating a job offer — for example, taking a lower wage in exchange for flexible hours or an extra week of vacation.

Consider what matters most to you and prioritize those items when you start negotiating. For example, you may want to focus on higher wages, more vacation days or better benefits packages — whatever it is, make sure your ideal job package reflects your wants and needs.

For example:

  • If you have children, ask whether the job offers access to affordable child care.
  • If you’re looking for upward mobility, research the opportunity for career growth within the company. Talk to the hiring manager about the potential for a promotion or raise.
  • If you’re looking to save money, ask about any employee discounts or if there’s an option to work remotely and avoid commuting costs.
  • If you need extra support with tuition costs, look into jobs that offer tuition assistance.

By understanding your priorities and researching what’s available, you can make an informed decision based on your needs and wants.

Learn to spot double talk

Double talk is a common tactic used by employers in salary negotiations. Unfortunately, this language is often vague and hard to decipher, making it difficult for prospective and current employees to determine their worth or identify how they’ll be compensated.

Common double-talk phrases include:

  • “We don’t have the budget for that.”
  • “Let’s revisit this later down the line.”
  • “We do things differently here.”

To avoid these tactics and ensure you get a fair offer, come prepared with evidence of your worth. Have research and statistics to back up the numbers you’re asking for or examples from similar jobs in the industry. Proving you’re worth what you’re asking for can help you cut through any double talk and get closer to a fair offer. Of course, this goes for negotiating a raise and or promotion too.

Will negotiating a salary in an interview hurt your chances?

Negotiating for a higher salary in an interview won’t necessarily hurt your chances of getting the job. Instead, it can demonstrate your confidence and commitment to the role. As long as you come prepared with research and statistics to back up your demands, negotiate professionally and remain open to compromise, you will be better prepared to ask for the job offer you want.

However, coming across as overly demanding or unprofessional could negatively affect your prospects. Likewise, if your skills and experience don’t match the job description, it could make it more difficult for employers to justify giving you more than what was initially offered.

Overall, negotiation skills are an essential asset in any job-seeking process. Knowing when and how to negotiate, and what to look for in an offer, can help you get the job package you deserve. With the right techniques and a willingness to compromise, it’s possible to secure a fair and equitable job offer.

 

Portrait of Elizabeth Exline

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elizabeth Exline has been telling stories ever since she won a writing contest in third grade. She's covered design and architecture, travel, lifestyle content and a host of other topics for national, regional, local and brand publications. Additionally, she's worked in content development for Marriott International and manuscript development for a variety of authors.

Headshot of Jessica Roper

ABOUT THE REVIEWER

Jessica Roper, University of Phoenix director of Career Services, is a seasoned leader with over 15 years of experience in leadership within higher education. She has honed her expertise in student services and career development and is passionate about helping others discover and refine their skills.

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This article has been vetted by University of Phoenix's editorial advisory committee. 
Read more about our editorial process.

 

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