Author Topic: Salary requirements while interviewing?  (Read 3130 times)

jeromedawg

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Salary requirements while interviewing?
« on: October 22, 2015, 09:25:21 AM »
Hey all,

So I was wondering something about interviewing as far as salary and worth. I know it's generally recommended to avoid 'showing your hand' as far as telling a potential employer you're interviewing with what your salary is. But it also seems like they ask what your requirements are up front oftentimes too... I'm not 100% sure what my value/worth is but I generally base it on my current salary. It seems however, that I tend to overshoot when I give my requirements. e.g. let's say I'm making $80k including bonus now and I'm applying for several positions somewhere. One of those positions I requested $100k as a requirement and the interviewer was like "oh wow, that's high" - I ended up telling her that I was at $80k salary (because she asked me to my face, and I would feel weird declining the information... out of fear that she'll think I'm not trustworthy and taint the impression she has of me during the interview, etc) and that seemed to nail it home even more that this was "too high" of a jump up. Obviously, she thinks I'm overvaluing myself at $100k. And at this point those numbers don't really matter *as* much it seems as with the jump in salary... at least, that seemed to be the case for her. She of course said she'd try to see what she could do... lol I haven't heard back yet. Not sure I'd want to work there anyway - I have a feeling they'd work me super-hard.

I spoke with another interviewer on the phone and he mentioned briefly that me getting the job will of course depend on my salary requirement in comparison to skills and salary requirements of other candidates. When I look on Glassdoor for the payscale of the position I'm considering at this other company, it's about the same or less than what I'm making on average. So I guess the question is, should I stick with what I believe my salary requirement and worth are? Even if the job or position I'm applying for may not seem to pay that high on a 'normal' base?  I guess I just don't want to shoot myself in the foot if I end up giving too high a number and leaving a bad taste in the interviewer's mouth.

Any advice on strategies around this? Oh my current context is that I'm still working but have until June (or later, since I get a bonus + severance if I stay) before I'm 'gracefully terminated' (lol) from my current company. Thing is, I don't think I want to stick around that long if something better comes up. Also, I have an innate fear that my company would pull the rug out from under at any given moment and release me bar bonus and possibly severance too.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2015, 09:31:03 AM by jplee3 »

Easye418

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Re: Salary requirements while interviewing?
« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2015, 10:22:10 AM »
Hey all,

So I was wondering something about interviewing as far as salary and worth. I know it's generally recommended to avoid 'showing your hand' as far as telling a potential employer you're interviewing with what your salary is. But it also seems like they ask what your requirements are up front oftentimes too... I'm not 100% sure what my value/worth is but I generally base it on my current salary. It seems however, that I tend to overshoot when I give my requirements. e.g. let's say I'm making $80k including bonus now and I'm applying for several positions somewhere. One of those positions I requested $100k as a requirement and the interviewer was like "oh wow, that's high" - I ended up telling her that I was at $80k salary (because she asked me to my face, and I would feel weird declining the information... out of fear that she'll think I'm not trustworthy and taint the impression she has of me during the interview, etc) and that seemed to nail it home even more that this was "too high" of a jump up. Obviously, she thinks I'm overvaluing myself at $100k. And at this point those numbers don't really matter *as* much it seems as with the jump in salary... at least, that seemed to be the case for her. She of course said she'd try to see what she could do... lol I haven't heard back yet. Not sure I'd want to work there anyway - I have a feeling they'd work me super-hard.

I spoke with another interviewer on the phone and he mentioned briefly that me getting the job will of course depend on my salary requirement in comparison to skills and salary requirements of other candidates. When I look on Glassdoor for the payscale of the position I'm considering at this other company, it's about the same or less than what I'm making on average. So I guess the question is, should I stick with what I believe my salary requirement and worth are? Even if the job or position I'm applying for may not seem to pay that high on a 'normal' base?  I guess I just don't want to shoot myself in the foot if I end up giving too high a number and leaving a bad taste in the interviewer's mouth.

Any advice on strategies around this? Oh my current context is that I'm still working but have until June (or later, since I get a bonus + severance if I stay) before I'm 'gracefully terminated' (lol) from my current company. Thing is, I don't think I want to stick around that long if something better comes up. Also, I have an innate fear that my company would pull the rug out from under at any given moment and release me bar bonus and possibly severance too.

Hard question since I know my positions worth to a company, well at least a close range. 

Typically, I would say well currently I am at $Xk a  year and I am sure you will offer me a competitive rate.  You would think the HR person is smart enough to offer you something better than what you are at now.

Axecleaver

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Re: Salary requirements while interviewing?
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2015, 10:54:17 AM »
I'll explain how things work in big (Fortune 500) companies, smaller companies may conduct operations differently. When negotiating salary, most large firms have a rate sheet that tells them the median salary for each role. HR prefers to hire at a low number, so there's room for larger percentage increases in your annual review. The median is sometimes treated as the top hiring limit for the role. The hiring salary is super critical, because all of your raises will be based on a percentage increase from where you started. This is why it is generally advised to change jobs every two years, which can help to maximize your salary over time. Raises generally lag inflation (2-3%) for large companies.

The best opening response to the question of how much you want is, "I'm willing to accept market rates for the role. How much do you have budgeted for the position?" Most folks are surprisingly frank when you ask them straight up. I've had people lie to me (watch the body language) and I usually go very big if that happens - I probably don't want to work there, anyway. If they give you a number, you now have a salary floor to negotiate up.

I also like to defer the conversation until as late in the process as possible. This lets them fall in love with you and develop an emotional attachment, which makes it easier for them to make exceptions. So what I like to do, is to give them my budgeting line, and then say "...but we can finalize the details later."

Once you've maximized your salary ask, get more information on benefits. You can then get "soft comp" to subsidize your negotiated salary. Soft comp is stuff like 401k match (typically fixed, but sometimes you can get bumped into a better employee tier) life insurance, disability, cheaper health insurance, and (the big one) more vacation time. Some companies are more liberal than others on soft comp.

The reason you failed with your 100k ask is because you revealed your current salary. Never do that. It's a bad policy, but many large companies have strict limits on percentage increase from current salary they are allowed to provide, and once you provide this information, you can't take it back. A friend of mine in a tech support role took this advice and got a similar job for a competitor with over double the salary (he was dramatically underpaid).

Chranstronaut

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Re: Salary requirements while interviewing?
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2015, 11:08:41 AM »
I changed jobs this year, and it seems like there isn't an all-in-one method.  Several online applications for large companies required me to fill in expected salary.  When possible, I gave a range from what I wanted (+5-10% current salary to ~20% current) rather than a single number.

When I was further in the interview process at a large company and had a single point of contact, I was pretty honest about how much I expected based on my past salary (without actually stating my precise salary.)  When I told the their offer was X% lower than my expected salary at my old job; they countered with what Axecleaver said, they have charts for the LCOL area and there's not much wiggle room.  I let them know that I owed my old employer tuition re-reimbursement, and asked if they could offer a signing bonus to help me cover it when I transitioned.  Turns out, signing bonuses were not part of the standard chart and were far easier to negotiate.  I didn't end up taking the job, but they offered me a HUGE signing bonus once I asked (almost 14% of my starting salary).  It never hurts to ask politely.

My new job is at a very small company.  I luckily had the large company's offer still open, so I told the small company, "I have an offer for X with XX signing bonus right now for a place across town.  Can you offer anything near that range."  Being limited in budget, they said they could not match it, but offered what they said was the maximum possible with a little signing bonus (about 1/3 the big company's). 

I believe both my conversations were pretty honest and while I didn't negotiate some crazy salary, I was able to increase both offers by ~15% just by asking "is there anything you can do?"  I switched industries and moved 2000 miles away, so it was really hard to judge market value.

mozar

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Re: Salary requirements while interviewing?
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2015, 11:11:52 AM »
Quote
I also like to defer the conversation until as late in the process as possible. This lets them fall in love with you and develop an emotional attachment, which makes it easier for them to make exceptions. So what I like to do, is to give them my budgeting line, and then say "...but we can finalize the details later."

This has never worked for me, but it could be because I am a woman. Men can negotiate a lot harder than women and still get hired, whereas women are punished for it.
So here is what I do. I tack on 15%-20% on my salary. When I started interviewing last summer I would say i was looking for 87k. If they asked how much I made I would say 75k. A few companies said that was way too high. The highest they could go was 85k. And then they disappeared so whatever. Then a company I interviewed with I told them I wanted 87k. They said OK we can do 88k. I had my first anchor. So the next company I talked to asked me how much I was making I said 75k, but my highest offer is 88. This company said they could do 90k. The 90k company told me they were about to make me an offer and I asked them what their benefits are (some say its better until they make an offer to ask about benefits). They said they basically have no benefits and I told them they need to come up to 94k to make up for that. They thought about it for a day and came back and said they can do 94k. They sent the offer and I signed it. You can take this with a grain of salt as I haven't started there yet, but that's another way to do it.

thd7t

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Re: Salary requirements while interviewing?
« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2015, 11:40:19 AM »
Quote
I also like to defer the conversation until as late in the process as possible. This lets them fall in love with you and develop an emotional attachment, which makes it easier for them to make exceptions. So what I like to do, is to give them my budgeting line, and then say "...but we can finalize the details later."

This has never worked for me, but it could be because I am a woman. Men can negotiate a lot harder than women and still get hired, whereas women are punished for it.
So here is what I do. I tack on 15%-20% on my salary. When I started interviewing last summer I would say i was looking for 87k. If they asked how much I made I would say 75k. A few companies said that was way too high. The highest they could go was 85k. And then they disappeared so whatever. Then a company I interviewed with I told them I wanted 87k. They said OK we can do 88k. I had my first anchor. So the next company I talked to asked me how much I was making I said 75k, but my highest offer is 88. This company said they could do 90k. The 90k company told me they were about to make me an offer and I asked them what their benefits are (some say its better until they make an offer to ask about benefits). They said they basically have no benefits and I told them they need to come up to 94k to make up for that. They thought about it for a day and came back and said they can do 94k. They sent the offer and I signed it. You can take this with a grain of salt as I haven't started there yet, but that's another way to do it.
I think that the "defer the conversation" tactic (as well as the "let them put out a number first" tactic) are sort of overblown.  I know that women can do the same things as men, but be perceived in a negative light, but both of the tactics that were mentioned before are pretty much right at the front of an interviewer's mind.  Anchoring (which you suggested) is a known phenomenon, but people really don't have defenses against it.  I also think that being willing to make your offer demonstrates that you are up front with what you need.  It helps the conversation.

Chranstronaut

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Re: Salary requirements while interviewing?
« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2015, 11:49:56 AM »
The 90k company told me they were about to make me an offer and I asked them what their benefits are (some say its better until they make an offer to ask about benefits). They said they basically have no benefits and I told them they need to come up to 94k to make up for that. They thought about it for a day and came back and said they can do 94k. They sent the offer and I signed it. You can take this with a grain of salt as I haven't started there yet, but that's another way to do it.

I feel like if you are already discussing salary, it's fair to discuss benefits.  As your example shows, it can make a difference in salary if the benefits are not competitive.  I wish that I had asked specifically about retirement benefits - most HR people assumed I only meant health insurance benefits.  They would brush over the 401k details (% match, but no mention of waiting periods or vesting periods) unless I asked and they had to look it up and respond later.

mm1970

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Re: Salary requirements while interviewing?
« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2015, 12:40:33 PM »
The time to get a big raise is when you change companies.  I have not been successful in that - haven't changed jobs yet - but I've counseled others.  My few big raises have been WITHIN companies, and only when I had a good boss who recognized my worth.

If a company says you are reaching too high, you are either reaching too high or they are trying to lowball you.

Right now, for the next 6 months, you are in the position of power.  You can keep looking for a better offer.  For example, if someone says "that's too high" and the offer isn't what you are making now, then you say "goodbye".  What you will be willing to take might change as the months go on.

I've been looking around, lightly.  I was speaking to a couple of companies who tried to lowball me.  And I just said "no thanks".  Because I don't *NEED* to find a new job, I'm NOT going to take a pay cut.  And also, there are "intangibles" at my current job.  I would not change jobs for a $5k increase if it meant losing vacation and losing benefits, because those are worth money.

RedBaron3

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Re: Salary requirements while interviewing?
« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2015, 01:08:03 PM »
In my recent job search, I answered that question with my current salary for one reason: I was relocating to an area that had a 23% lower cost of living.  When asked for my requirements, I said I currently make X and I would like something comparable.  I skirted around further questioning and never gave them a hard number of what exactly I wanted.  I did say that I understood there may be some adjustments required for cost of living (they were aware that I was coming from a high cost of living area).  I ended up receiving and agreeing to an offer of X-10% so I essentially came out 13% ahead.  The objective of the move was for an overall family and lifestyle improvement anyway. 

alexrcraig

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Re: Salary requirements while interviewing?
« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2015, 02:21:54 PM »
First, looking on Glassdoor and everything is great.

I think there is nothing wrong with overshooting your salary compared to the average, especially if you can validate it with hard facts.

Show the awesome value you have created for past companies and would be able to create for this company.

If you came to me and said you could make me an additional $300,000 than the next guy, I would gladly pay you way more than the next guy. Who would not take the deal of paying out more money to make extra money? Most people would, although there are some people who are more concerned with corporate rules than they are about getting results.

If the ask for your salary, I would not give it until you have the job. If they continue to push you then sure, but I would avoid it at all costs. I would say something like this:

Interviewer: "What would you like as far as compensation goes for your position?"

You: Im sure well find a number that works for both of us, but for now, I want to make sure its a good fit. You could also say, Im really not comfortable with revealing that information but I am interested in discussing some of the other ways I can help the company. (From Ramit Sethi)

The goal is to push the interview back to the VALUE you can create for the company. The more value that you can show the more you will be able to command in a salary.

Do this until you are offered the job. Once he offers the job ask him for a range first before you lay your exact salary out.

By law you are under no obligation to disclose your salary amount. But if you feel like you should then I would use your total compensation number. This is salary plus benefits (Health insurance, gym, etc.)