That's what I want
November 15, 2010 6:03 PM   Subscribe

JobFilter: Interview jitters... do I ask or do they offer?

I've never job-hunted while still employed... do I ask for how much I want, or do I wait for them to offer? I have a job but need to make more $$ so I am interested in moving on. But I won't move unless it's a good financial bump. What's the protocol? Where in the negotiation does salary come across the table? First interview next week.
posted by I_Love_Bananas to Work & Money (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
IME, you do not discuss salary until an offer has been placed on the table. There is no elegant way to broach that topic without coming off as gauche. Does the company you're applying to have a website? Sometimes they release salary guidelines in their job listings and that might enable you to do some recon.
posted by patronuscharms at 6:09 PM on November 15, 2010

In my experience, salary talk doesn't start until you have a job offer in hand (although, I'm of the mind that it's perfectly appropriate to ask the salary range in an email to the HR department prior to the interview). And when it comes to salary negotiations, always, ALWAYS let them give the first number.
posted by Cat Face at 6:10 PM on November 15, 2010

At the end. They may ask about your salary history in the interview process, but I wouldn't put it out there as a candidate until I had an offer.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:10 PM on November 15, 2010

Wait for them to ask. Usually they'll ask what you're looking for during the interview process. If they don't ask during the interview process, it'll be part of the offer process. You should have a number in your head or at least a range.
posted by kat518 at 7:22 PM on November 15, 2010

Unless they've specifically asked for salary requirements--and some do--wait until they make an offer.
posted by valkyryn at 7:26 PM on November 15, 2010

After they've offered a job, before you accept/reject it.
posted by John Cohen at 7:34 PM on November 15, 2010

Best answer: As an employer....

If someone asks me what the job pays before we've discussed all other aspects, i pretty much write them off.

Do the interview, get the offer, negotiate from there if you need to....
posted by HuronBob at 9:55 PM on November 15, 2010

The received wisdom is to let the employer broach the issue and then let him offer the first number. The second part is apparently just negotiation strategy---if it's higher than expected, you win; if it's lower, you can always negotiate up. Better than choosing between accidentally short-selling yourself or letting the employer negotiate you down. I've never heard an explanation for the first part, though.

HuronBob, would you care to explain why you'd write that candidate off? I agree it's a bad sign if money is the only concern, but I don't think that's necessarily the conclusion to draw here. Maybe he has a hard cutoff due to personal budgetary factors, etc. that don't reflect poorly on his interest in the job.
posted by d. z. wang at 10:08 PM on November 15, 2010

I've seen situations where the job requirements would demand X salary, but in fact the employer is offering considerably less than X. In these cases I would not want to waste my time or theirs going through a charade of interviews. If you can, contact HR and ask them the range of salary and benefits.
posted by Gungho at 6:08 AM on November 16, 2010

It'd be awesome if jobs all listed salary range so that jobseekers would know if they should invest their time in the interview process, but it's currently just not within the bounds of professional etiquette. Let the employer bring up compensation level before you mention it at all.

I've always been told to have the employer throw out a number first; in practice, I've never been able to make this happen.
posted by desuetude at 7:49 AM on November 16, 2010

I agree that you should not be the first to mention any numbers ("It's too early to discuss salary, I need to understand the position and the responsibilities."), even if they ask what you were making previously ("I don't believe the positions are comparable").

You might find some useful information about the new company and the salaries there on (requires registration).
posted by Dragonness at 8:25 AM on November 16, 2010

Desuetude, HR people are pros, they know all the tricks to get the number out of you. However, once you've used up all of your prepared answers, if they continue to insist, as they likely will, you can simply say "I prefer not to mention any numbers. I want this job and I'm prepared to negotiate."

I refused to budge at my last interview (even though repeated phone calls specifically about salary) and was very proud of myself, I felt like I didn't cave in at an interrogation.
posted by Dragonness at 8:31 AM on November 16, 2010

Wait for the offer. It will include a salary. Then, negotiations can start.
posted by maryrosecook at 8:59 AM on November 16, 2010

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