Of all the sweat-inducing questions you’ll be asked in a job interview, the one about salary expectations tops the list. Securing your desired pay package isn’t just about your worth as an employee, it also affects future pay rises (5 per cent on a terrible starting figure isn’t a great place to be, either).
This is a Mexican standoff for the modern age, except, in this instance, it may well be that the second shooter wins. The thing is, a company doesn’t always have one price they’re willing to pay – in fact, they generally have a range within which they can explore upon hiring. And how do you get a salary at the top of that range? Firstly, you need to ask for it. The tricky part is this: you neither want to set the bar too low (and reveal that you don’t know your value within the industry), nor set it too high and price yourself out of negotiations. So, the second thing you can try is letting them lead.
“If something is important to you, absolutely negotiate. But don’t haggle over every little thing. Fighting to get just a bit more can rub people the wrong way – and can limit your ability to negotiate with the company later in your career, when it may matter more.”
Instead of offering up a number, try something like, “Well, this position and this company is a little different from what I do at the moment. I’d like to understand your company’s needs better to get a more accurate understanding about salary. Was there a salary you are willing to offer?”
If it looks like you’re not going to get what you want, remember that you’re only likely to get the chance to negotiate if the person on the other side of the table likes you.
“Resist the temptation to prove that you’re a great negotiator,” advises Deepak Malhotra, a professor in the Negotiations, Organisations and Markets Unit at Harvard Business School. “If something is important to you, absolutely negotiate. But don’t haggle over every little thing. Fighting to get just a bit more can rub people the wrong way – and can limit your ability to negotiate with the company later in your career, when it may matter more.”
We’d say it’s pretty good advice for both life and business to pick your battles: Mexican or not.