9 Questions to Ask When Negotiating Salary
Few things can be as exciting as receiving a call for the second or third interview.
Because you know you’re being called for the job. Either that, or you’re very close to getting the job.
For the companies which only do two interviews, the second one usually includes job offer discussions. For those conducting three, this happens in the third interview.
All the same, when called for a second interview, you know that you performed well in the previous interview. You are filled with joy. But this could also be the beginning of some uncertainties.
What will they offer as a salary? Will it be worth the job? Will there be other benefits? How good are the benefits?
Salary negotiations can be challenging. But they can also be great opportunities for getting what you want.
The first thing you must do is to have the right perspective.
Do not see it as a tricky situation but an opportunity to get the pay you want.
PREPARING FOR A SALARY NEGOTIATION
A quick mention of some important things to work on before heading into the negotiation.
You need to do some preparing so as to successfully negotiate.
Whereas the 9 questions below will surely help you, the below are key to master.
Know What You Want
A salary negotiation is not any different from a business negotiation.
You are seeking the best for yourself while the hiring manager will be seeking the best for her company. It’s therefore necessary to know what you want.
How much salary are you looking to get? In case they don’t give you that, how much less can you accept?
This is what will guide your negotiation. You don’t want to go into this with a view of discussing the offer given while having no figure in mind. If you do this, you will be limited to the offer.
The company can agree to increasing the amount but that may still be below what you consider acceptable.
Prepare to Listen
Listening is a skill everyone needs. When it comes to your salary negotiation, good listening plays a very important role. It’s in the listening that you gather information about the company.
You can learn how generous they are from the words used by the interviewer. The look on his face when responding to you request for more and the voice tone can tell you a lot.
Just from listening, you can be able to estimate the financial muscle of the company. This will guide your responses and help you keep within the limits you sense they cannot go beyond.
Prepare a Counter Offer
You are going to discuss a business deal. That is what it really is—a business deal. If you accept their offer, you will be waking up early to go to those offices.
Much of your waking time will be spent there. That is where you will be earning your income from. It’s serious business.
If you do not have any idea the salary range they may offer, just do your research.
Find out what other companies pay someone in a similar position.
Of course companies are different. They amount of work may differ. The pay structure may differ etc. But knowing how much others are paid gives you the opportunity to prepare an informed response.
When the offer you are given isn’t what you expected, propose your counter offer.
Do not be afraid of making it in case It’s too high compared to what has been offered. You may cut down on it but be careful not to reduce it too much.
Remember that this is a negotiation.
Remembering that It’s a negotiation requires that you also become flexible.
As much as both parties want the best for themselves, negotiations must end as a win-win situation. No-one should feel coerced into the agreement.
In case you decide to join the company, you will be working with the person who interviewed you. There will also be more opportunities later for further negotiations, raises and promotions.
Also, you expect them to consider your arguments and make changes to the offer in your favor. In a similar way, be ready to make changes to your stand and counter offer.
This will encourage them and help both you and them come to an amicable agreement.
QUESTIONS TO ASK DURING SALARY NEGOTIATIONS
To get the pay you want, you have to prepare for the negotiation. A good way of doing that is by having some questions to ask.
Questions are great because they open up the interviewer to giving you more information about the offer.
With more information, you are able to negotiate because you can see the “good” and the “bad” of the offer.
We have put together 9 questions which you can focus on. Go through them, learn how to use them and add them to your arsenal.
1. Is this salary negotiable?
The first question you should ask is whether the salary is negotiable.
Do not go straight into making a counter-offer. Act like the professional you are and approach the negotiation gently.
This will show that you are thoughtful and reasonable.
Contrary to popular opinion by job candidates, most employers expect the salary offered to be negotiated. So seeking to do this should not make you uncomfortable.
Do not think to yourself that you will seem money-focused. You are simply trying to balance your needs with the employer’s.
If the salary is negotiable, then it’s time to show the interviewer that you are worth more than the offer given. Mention the figure you have in mind and wait for a response.
During your preparation, you must have figured out what salary is paid to people in the position you are interviewing for.
A website like Glassdoor is a good place to look. If in a position to, find out from the company staff what pay the position gives.
This knowledge will help you bargain your salary more effectively.
If you are told that the salary is not negotiable, then move to the next question.
2. What does the entire package contain?
This is where you start acting smart. Although many candidates negotiate salaries alone, show the interviewer that you know better.
Every job compensation has more than a salary. There are benefits which come with the job. If you are interviewing for a junior position in the company, the benefits may not be many.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any.
Prompt the interviewer to tell you what else is in the package. You will then be able to gauge the attractiveness of the job compensation.
This makes it easier for you to make comparisons with any other offers you may have received elsewhere.
Still, even without other job offers, you can see the value of what you will be getting from this employer.
When asking this question, be ready to make a proposal. Whatever is important to you, include it in the proposal you will make.
Some of these may include work-from-home options, stock options, health insurance cover etc. Whatever aligns with what you value should be discussed.
3. How are salary raises and promotions given?
It’s expected that employees won’t work for ten years and get paid the same salary they started with. But just because it’s expected, you need to hear it from your prospective employer himself.
This removes guesswork and assumptions which cannot make a solid case later when you ask for a raise.
Salary raises and promotions will often be a result of employee performance. This question can therefore be answered by a quick and short response like, “It depends on an employee’s performance.”
This is perfectly okay.
However, this short answer can be used to steer you away from a powerful bargaining chip.
To avoid that, ask how they measure an employee’s performance. Do not assume that it’s just doing the job right.
At this point, you have no idea what the company policies says about job performance.
Maybe you need to perform well for two years before a raise is considered. Get to hear it from them so you know what you are looking at.
4. How often do salaries get raised?
This question is quite similar to the one above but different in it’s own way. It will come in handy in case you were not given a comprehensive answer for the above question.
Remember that the employer would rather you just accept the offer given and take the job.
For you however, you would rather get the job and the best package possible.
This is why you are in a negotiation.
Stay focused on your goal but don’t be pushy.
If the initial question was skillfully avoided and you are not yet comfortable with the answer given, this question will help.
The essence of It’s to get specific numbers. In this case, a specific duration by which you can expect a raise.
This is actually seeking to get the interviewer to commit himself to a raise in the future.
If she tells you it happens within a year or another specific time frame, that’s fine. If he is still non-committal, then move on to another question.
But take note of the hesitation and know that you need to have a solid offer in order to accept the job.
5. Can I see the job description?
When you ask for the position’s job description, you are basically looking to understand whether the offer is commensurate with the day-to-day tasks.
This is very important for your negotiation and you should not underestimate it.
You see, many employers offer candidates the job and the job description follows after reporting to work.
Sometimes, it will happen after finishing the induction process. This might be okay and isn’t much of an issue if the package is good.
But what if the daily tasks and responsibilities are more than the package comfortably compensates for?
If the work is more than you expected, it might be difficult to start negotiating the job again after agreeing to, and signing the job offer. This will be a trap for you and getting out of it can be tricky.
You might start working on a job with thoughts of having been tricked. This will affect your performance and in due time, your chances of getting a raise or a promotion.
Be wise and stay ahead of your future employer. Ask for a job description and see whether you can manage to carry out the daily routines for the salary offered.
6. What does the severance package contain?
One important though often-ignored part of the pay package is the severance. People think of severance only when it becomes clear that there is a danger of being laid off.
When all is well, few give this any thought.
Well, you have an opportunity to be different. Do not go by what you know the 401k will provide.
You can negotiate further than that. You can ask for more options to be included in your severance package.
If you are interviewing for a senior position, you have even more leverage.
This is also true if you are in a high-demand job market like cybersecurity. If you are also looking at several offers from different companies, do not hesitate to push your interviewer to see how much they can give.
Explain to them how your position requires job security so as to perform well. Show them how getting a package that is below the market average of your industry can reduce your chances of accepting the offer.
Such a comment will have at least two effects:
a. Show that you are interested in the job
The interviewer will always want to know that the negotiation is not in vain.
When they know that you are available for them and are thinking about their offer, they are likely to consider your demands.
This gives you a chance to further pinpoint the issues you have with the offer given.
Since you are certainly one of the candidates they are considering, your chances of getting what you want are increased.
b. Show that you are well informed
Few things can rival your bargaining power when you have insightful information. Knowledge is indeed power and the more you know, the more capable you are of getting what you want.
Knowledge gives you the ability to know when a claim by the interviewer is meant to weaken your argument.
And when you show that you have knowledge, you are immediately respected. They know that they cannot just counter your demands with empty words.
More than that, a smart employer will actually like you some more since he sees the potential you carry. You will be seen as proactive and good in doing your homework.
This further points to a possibility of you being a solution provider who is worthy of being invested in.
7. What percentage raise do your highest performers get?
Still along the lines of pay rise, here is a question to get the conversation going further.
As the interviewer works hard to show you how good a place the company is, this question will be asking for proof.
If you get the answer to this question quickly, then you know that it’s the company’s norm to give pay raises.
But if there is hesitation, if the hiring manager doesn’t seem to know the answer or doesn’t remember, that should be a sign for you.
That should tell you that raises are rare and they probably have to be earned the hard way.
Maybe you only become a top performing employee when you do many “extras” which really stretch you out.
If this is the case, then you might be looking at an employer who isn’t very reward-focused.
If you managed to see the work environment, you would notice if this is the case at the company. You will then have to put in some more thinking before accepting the job.
On the other hand, if you got a straightforward answer, then you might be in a safe place. All you will be gauging is the figure given.
If you are currently making $10,000 and the percentage given is 10%, then it’s reasonable to expect a raise of $1,000.
This provides you with a good idea of what the prospects are in that company. It’s always a good idea to know what the future holds.
This gives you more information to use when comparing the offer to your current or former job. It also helps you compare the offer against offers from different companies you are interviewing at.
8. Will I get a raise after being confirmed as a full-time employee?
This question gives you a window of negotiation in case it has been tough throughout to this point. It also provides room for you to gain some more leverage.
To help you understand the power this question wields, consider the psychology behind it.
Many job candidates start off in probation. This might be a requirement in the company you are about to join if you accept the offer. With probation periods often being 6 months, what happens after that?
Testing. Or maybe a review of your performance.
But will there be a salary increase after probation?
Note that the question does not ask what criteria is used to confirm employees on probation. Rather, it asks whether there will be a raise upon confirmation. Meaning, it assumes that it’s obvious there will be a confirmation.
Using this question, you will be communicating your confidence that you will pass whatever evaluation you’ll be taken through. Your concern therefore is what benefits will come with the good performance you will have shown.
9. By when can I give you an answer?
If there is one crucial aspect of negotiating a salary, it’s that you shouldn’t be quick to say either “Yes” or “No.” No matter how much you are pushed, always seek time to think it over.
The interviewer may tell you that they are in a hurry to fill the position. They may even want someone to start working immediately. Whether this is true or it’s just a tactic, you may not be sure.
One thing however needs to be etched on your mind. If you have come this far, and have negotiated the salary with them at length, they have probably decided to pick you.
If you have negotiated well and are satisfied with all the details and information provided, then you can immediately accept the offer.
But if you are still unsure about some aspects, don’t be afraid of asking for at least, some hours. You can give them an answer the following morning.
This will give you time outside the probably-tense interview room to think about the offer.
You will be able to assess what you observed about the company and decide if it’s the kind of place you want to work.
In the event that there are other companies you are waiting for a response from, you can call them up and ask for an offer.
You can tell them that you have an offer from a different company and would love to consider what they are offering.
You don’t need to discuss the details of the offer received but this way, you can make a good decision by the following morning.
With these questions, you can easily negotiate your way to a great salary and overall job package.
Stay confident and maintain a positive mindset.
Know that the chances of getting what you want are more than if you hadn’t read these questions.
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