I accidentally lowballed myself at a job interview
September 15, 2016 4:46 AM   Subscribe

I had an informal job interview (more of a chat with the business owner) last week. It was my first job interview in 15 years. She surprised me (I know! I know!) by asking me what I expected to earn...

...and I told her a sum way below what I currently earn.
Think: I earn something like 4000 units now and I asked for 3000 to 3500 units. She nodded neutrally and took notes. She also said that the wages at her company also depend on stuff like experience and skills. Since I come from a different but related industry, that probably means my earnings would increase with time.

Then I came home and looked at what I currently earn, and I banged my head against the wall. There's no way I want to reduce my earnings that much.

I was told that I would be invited by the team leader to a test day at the office, so we could see if work and I are cut out for each other, and so that the team leader could meet me, too. She also said that she personally could see no reason not to hire me.

I have reason to expect that this is going to happen next week, as the Team leader looked up my LinkedIn-Profile for the first time today, though of course there's always a chance that it won't happen. I also have reason to believe that I'm going to do well on my test day and that I will get a job offer.

When and how do I bring up that, actually, I want to earn in the region of 4000?
posted by Omnomnom to Work & Money (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I think you need to go back and frame this around the job itself.

"When we first met and you asked me about salary expectations and I have to admit I was a bit caught off guard at the time. Since then, I have done some more research into this role and based on my experience and market rates, I need to amend my answer to 4000. I am still very interested in the position and would like to continue discussions on arranging the test day. Best regards, omnomnomnom" or something like that. Sooner the better.
posted by like_neon at 5:08 AM on September 15, 2016 [15 favorites]

I can see the argument for letting them know now but I think there is also something to be said for waiting til an offer comes in.

A. It is a bigger risk to tell them now because they might decide that makes you seem unprofessional.

B. Heck they could have a much bigger salary budgeted for this role and despite lowballing yourself come back with a normal sized offer. It does happen.

A lot depends on the personality of the manager and the culture of the company. If they are a pretty professional bunch making a counteroffer at time of offer is totally normal even if you said something lower to begin with. They aren't going to go "bbbbbut u saiiiiid". At a smaller place it's more of a risk that they'll feel personally misled, and would respond better to honesty sooner rather than later.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:14 AM on September 15, 2016 [4 favorites]

Ask A Manager has some advice. In a similar situation she recommends emailing to clarify as an option.
posted by cabingirl at 5:23 AM on September 15, 2016 [3 favorites]

I did something similar to myself in a job hunt once out of nerves. When the actual offer came, I said (truthfully, but I imagine you could say this even if it weren't entirely true) that once I'd been able to review the employer's full benefits package and compare it with my current compensation, I'd need the salary offer to be $X higher to make the transition from my current job. They thought it over for a day, came back with the figure I'd asked for, and it was much less of a big deal than I'd built it up to be in my head.

Depending on the real numbers you're talking about, something like that might be an option. (Or not. Obviously, if you're $30k apart, crunching the health insurance numbers isn't going to make up that difference.)
posted by Stacey at 5:28 AM on September 15, 2016 [10 favorites]

I just started a new job and my situation was similar to yours. After learning more details about the job and the company, I realized that I needed to ask for more. I basically did what like_neon described and it worked. I highballed them on my amended offer though (e.g. 4500 units) and we met somewhere in the middle (4250) which was inline with what I wanted to get.

I can understand why some people might think this comes off as unprofessional, but it really comes down to getting what you need and what you deserve based on your experience and based on what will be demanded of you. If you just say you want more and can't back it up with any viable reason, then comes across as unprofessional and greedy. You need to convince them that it is in their best interests to hire you for the amount you want. If you do the research, state your case and they don't bite, well, shit. That might sting for a while, but at least you didn't sell yourself short. That's a matter of self-respect.
posted by chillmost at 5:38 AM on September 15, 2016 [5 favorites]

Ha, the number I proffered was 2200 on your scale. The HR person... chuckled! Though aware I was looking at several opportunities, the employer offered me 2200 and I accepted. Two months later the business had an unanticipatable tough time and laid off people--but not me. Recently business is picking up. The bosses above me say they will remember my undercompensated covering for those laid off when reviews come around soon, and now I feel confident in pressing the issue with verifed value.
posted by gregoreo at 5:58 AM on September 15, 2016

Bring it up at the debrief of the test day. (They'll typically ask you what you thought, etc.) If the test day went well on your end and you want the job, then you can say "it was great, I particularly enjoyed X and Y. I'm very excited about the possibility of coming here! By the way, I was caught off guard when you asked me about my salary the other day. When I went home and reviewed the entire package, I realized that it's currently about 4000."
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:04 AM on September 15, 2016

I was told that I would be invited by the team leader to a test day at the office, so we could see if work and I are cut out for each other, and so that the team leader could meet me, too.

Off topic so I'll be brief - are they intending to pay you for this day? Because if you're in the US, unpaid auditions like that are illegal. And, I would personally say, a warning sign.

On the salary question I'd say nothing about it until you get to nitty gritty and offer. Part of your stumble is that it's just odd to raise salary at that point in the discussion. I would not make a big deal about it, and matter-of-factly state that this would be a reduction in your current compensation and that it's not what you've determined the market rate is either. A place that takes issue with paying market value is, again, a bit warning sign about overall culture IMNSHO.
posted by phearlez at 11:15 AM on September 15, 2016

I'm not in the US.
posted by Omnomnom at 12:22 PM on September 15, 2016

Thank you for your help!
posted by Omnomnom at 1:37 PM on September 15, 2016

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