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How do I Negotiate Pay for a Job at an Interview?

by Carl Carabelli, studioD

At some point during a job interview, the question of compensation may arise. This can cause trepidation for a job seeker, especially an inexperienced one. As with any aspect of a job interview, the key to successfully negotiating salary is preparation and confidence. Fortunately, these aspects go hand-in-hand. Do your homework properly and you can negotiate with confidence.


If you don’t know what your position should pay, you’re at a serious disadvantage when going in for a job interview. Two major factors determine salary: Position and experience. After all, an entry level analyst will make significantly less than a senior analyst with 20 years of experience. Gather information on the average salary for your position and experience level. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is a good resource to use in your search. By having a number and the information to back it up, you put yourself in a strong negotiating position.

Don’t Ask First

During a job interview, the one who mentions money first is usually the one who loses. Don’t ask what the position pays. In the unlikely event the interviewer doesn’t bring it up, you shouldn’t either. It is likely that he will ask you about your current compensation level. Answer honestly and wait for follow-up. If he asks what level of compensation you’re looking for, simply say you want an “offer consistent with the position and my level of experience.”

Be Confident

At some point, either the interviewer will make an offer or press you for your salary expectations. When it comes to that point, give him the number that you came to through your research. If he balks, tell him that you’ve done extensive research and that figure is consistent with the job for someone with your years of experience. Be clear, direct and make eye contact. By displaying confidence, you show him that you know your worth and you’re not going to allow yourself to be underpaid.

Hold Your Answer

As negotiations progress, the interviewer will reach a point where he stands firm. With no more discussion to be had, simply thank the interviewer and tell him you will consider it. Whether it is an offer so low that it borders on insult or higher than your wildest dreams, you don’t want to jump at it. If it’s too low, you will give the interviewer time to reconsider, perhaps even time to meet with other, less qualified candidates. He’ll either realize he has to offer you more or give the job to someone who will do it for less. If the offer is high and you jump at it, you’ll weaken your negotiating stance when it comes to future pay increases. Either way, by remaining confident and knowing your worth, you’ll be able to successfully negotiate a salary.

About the Author

Carl Carabelli has been writing in various capacities for more than 15 years. He has utilized his creative writing skills to enhance his other ventures such as financial analysis, copywriting and contributing various articles and opinion pieces. Carabelli earned a bachelor's degree in communications from Seton Hall and has worked in banking, notably commercial lending, since 2001.

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