Salary discussions may be the most anxiety-provoking part of a job interview. Many people feel embarrassed or pressured when it comes to talking money. Although job seekers often hear that they should wait for the interviewer to bring up salary, knowing how to respond can affect your earnings for years to come.
For example, say you negotiate a salary of $60,000 per year. Every year, you receive a three percent raise. At the end of the fifth year, you’d be in line for a $69,556 in earnings. But if you’d only negotiated $57,000 to start, you’d only be earning a little more than $66,000 at the end of year five – and you’d have missed out on $19,403 in earnings. In fact, just to keep pace, you’d need to receive annual raises of four percent.
So how do you negotiate your best package?
Eight tips for handling salary during a job interview
1. Make a good impression. Looking the part can go a long way toward delivering the salary you want.
2. Keep quiet. If you’re asked salary before you have an offer, say you’re flexible and that you need to fully understand the position before you can determine the value you bring.
3. Do your homework. Research salaries for the position. Emphasize the skills and experience you bring and the value you offer. If you’re armed with information, you’ll be in a better position to stand your ground.
4. Avoid disclosing past earnings. If an employer knows how much you’re earning or that you took a salary cut before, it will be harder for you to negotiate a great package.
5. Encourage the employer to talk. If you’re asked about compensation, ask if they’re working with a range for the position. Or ask what other employees in the same position make.
6. Consider benefits and perks. A great benefits package or work environment may top up a more meager salary. Take time to assess the position.
7. Know your walk away point. Work out a budget and determine at what point you’d walk away from an offer. Whether it’s self respect or your mortgage on the line, everybody needs to know their bottom line.
8. Get the offer in writing. Only commit to a position once you’ve received a letter of offer. Otherwise, it may be harder to nail down a spoken offer, especially when it comes to salary.
Related to job interviews
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• Job interview tactics
• Job interview secrets