There are a few things that can make a great interview come to a screeching halt.
In particular, the dreaded question, “What’s your expected salary range?” has made many of us squirm and stammer, and can cause even the most confident interviewee to break into cold sweat.
Follow these five tips to improve your salary negotiation skills and land the job that you deserve.
Tip 1: Information is power
No one buys a big ticket item like a car without some research. The same approach should be taken when it comes to determining your own pay scale, especially if getting a raise at your next job would allow you to afford that dream car. Equip yourself with knowledge about how your industry pays in your country with resources, such as the Robert Half Salary Guide to remain unfazed and confident when the expected salary question is lobbed at you.
For example if you're in the finance and accounting sector, research by Robert Half has uncovered that 97% of CFOs in Hong Kong plan to attribute salary increases to an average of 18% of their staff, with the average increase expected at 7%*.
In fact, you can be sure that whoever is interviewing you has this knowledge at his or her fingertips. Subtly hinting to your interviewer that you are up to date with the salary situation of your industry peers can lessen the chances of you getting short-changed.
So take a look at the job market to see how it's performing, how saturated it is and where there’s demand. If your area of focus is inundated with similar professionals, you may want to skew your salary expectations lower.
Your assessment should also consider where a company is located, how many employees it has, and whether it is privately or publicly owned.
Tip 2: Deflect and defer
If the expected salary question pops up too early in the job interview, it could be a test or screening tactic from the interviewer. A smooth deflection, such as saying, “I was hoping to discuss that question later because at this point we are still learning about each other and discussing what I can bring to the table”, lets your interviewer know that you have more to offer, and gives you a great opportunity to impress them.
It’s always better to put off a salary discussion until you’re well into the interview, after you’ve had the opportunity to explain what you can bring to the table and learn a little more about what’s expected of the job you’re interviewing for. But if the interviewer insists, then give the salary range you’re comfortable with, based on what you discovered during your research.
It will also be fairer to discuss compensation after both parties have gleaned enough information about each other to mutually evaluate whether the fit is a good one.
Tip 3: Be flexible with your expected salary
Before delving deep into the issue of expected salary range, let your interviewer know you would also like to discuss the total compensation package which would include aspects like more paid time off and other benefits that would enhance your career there.
Your interviewer will probably be happy to hear this as it means more room for negotiation for both parties.
Tip 4: Take charge of your past
Whilst it is true your salary history is no one else’s business other than your own, most interviewers would want to know how much you were paid in your previous role. If your past salary was lower than industry standards, acknowledge it and proactively explain why.
It’s not uncommon to be paid slightly below baseline in exchange for stock options or more paid days off. In some cases, it may be due to budget constraints of the company too.
Tip 5: Show your worth
Whenever possible, try to find out more about the salary package that your target company is offering for the position even before the interview, so you can decline the interview invitation politely if it falls below your acceptable range. There’s always a possibility that the company you’re interviewing with simply doesn’t have the budget to hire you at your expected salary range.
However, a low advertised salary needn’t be a deal-breaker if you really want the job. Prepare a list of reasons why the interviewer should consider you as an investment and as an asset instead of just another employee – maybe it’s because you’re able to bring added business capabilities, or perhaps it’s because your own unique network of contacts is more valuable than most.
Show your value, and you’ll be in a better position to negotiate for a higher salary than advertised. With these handy tips, you’ll be able to breeze through your job interview and hopefully, walk out of the room with a job offer that comes with the expected salary you deserve.
Need more advice about remuneration? Download a free copy of the 2018 Robert Half Salary Guide.