How to Negotiate Salary During the Job Interview

negotiate salaryOne of the most challenging questions during your interview is when the employer asks for salary requirements. Yes, it’s time to negotiate salary.

It can be extremely stressful when you are face to face with your potential boss who will be paying you for the foreseeable future. You could be feeling the job is a great match. But negotiate poorly and you may not be paid what you’re worth. Have to high of a salary expectation, and the job might go to someone else.

So how do you negotiate salary during the job interview?

First, consider that the employer is most likely operating from the same place you are. Typically, your main concern is getting the best job possible and earning a decent salary. In the meantime, the employer’s main concerns are paying a competitive salary while hiring the best talent possible.

However, while you negotiate salary, you’ll find there are three types of employers:

A. Those that want the best and are willing to pay for it
B. Those that want the best but want to reduce costs as much as possible
C. Those that want cheap labor

Stay away from ‘C’. You will not be respected. As soon as the employer can find someone who can do your job for a lower cost, you’ll be fired.

If you find an ‘A’ employer, you are “in the money” literally and figuratively. Good for you!

Where you have some room to work is a ‘B’ employer. An intelligent business person wants to get the most for their money. The more efficiently they run their company, the more money they have for salaries (like yours), and the  more stable the company is. This is where your powers of negotiation will be tested.

The step before the first step is to be prepared.

If you don’t know what a realistic salary for your position and level of experience should be, you won’t know if the employer’s offer is good, bad, or ugly. If you are staying at a company for the long-term, being able to negotiate for even a few thousand extra dollars can translate to a difference of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of your career.

1. Be in the Know

Check out resources like Glassdoor Salaries. Type in your job title and location and Glassdoor will show you a salary range of what your peers are earning. Also, get a second opinion from a site like Payscale or or the federal government’s Department of Labor. Also investigate benefits aside from salary that the company offers such as stock options, paid leave, telecommute options, health benefits, bonuses, etc.

2. Your Needs

Once you have a range of realistic salaries, calculate your particular red lines. Your needs could be different depending on if you are single or are a head of household, have debt, or additional factors. It is vital to go into the interview prepared with a range from “great” to “acceptable” to “need to look elsewhere.”

3. Don’t Go First

Try not to be the first to give a number. The employer already has a salary range in mind. If you quote too high, you will be excluded. If you quote too low, you have left potentially enormous amounts of money on the table. Practice a response such as, “With salary, I’m certainly flexible. Do you have a general salary range for this position?” If you are still discussing job responsibilities, you could reply with, “I would like to hear more about what my role would be and understand how I would fit into the company, then I’m sure we could reach a mutually agreeable figure.”

4. The Negotiation

Most employers have a leeway of ten percent above and ten percent below whatever figure they first tell you. That means if you are applying for a graphic design role, and the employer says that they generally start at $45,000, the employer is expecting to negotiate salary from $49,500 to $40,500. Missing out on this $4,500 difference translates to you losing out on over $20,000 if you stayed in this role only five years. When you consider that your salary after a promotion could be based on initial salary, your loss could be that much greater.

5. Hone on the Range

If the employer’s number is within your acceptable range, assure them that this sounds fair, and that you would be looking closer to x (cite a number ten to twelve percent higher than the employer’s figure). The key here is to cite a few reasons why you deserve this higher figure. It could be based on your experience, track record, past salaries, etc. While you are preparing for your interview, put yourself in the employer’s place and think if you were hiring yourself, why would you be willing to pay extra to hire you?

6. Consider Other Considerations

There are many benefits a job can offer aside from salary. If the employer offers telecommuting, consider how much money this saves in terms of gas, time, and wear and tear on your car. If the employer isn’t flexible as they negotiate salary, ask about additional benefits. You might be able to request additional leave, sick days, stock options, etc.

When it comes time to negotiate salary: be prepared, be confident and be flexible. If the fit is just right between you and the employer, good things will happen.


For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Brooklyn Resume Studio.




DanaAbout the Author: Dana Leavy founded Aspyre Solutions, focusing on small business development and career consulting. Her mission is to support creative and socially-conscious small businesses, through career transition coaching and business consulting for creative professionals and entrepreneurs.

Dana has helped hundreds of professionals in advertising, marketing, design and other industries execute effective career plans to find and DO the work they are passionate about. She has presented seminars on navigating careers, transition and work-life balance to several colleges and universities, and her advice has been featured on MSN Careers, Fox Business News, NewsDay,, GlassDoor and Follow Dana on Twitter!



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