Asking for more money in a job interview
September 3, 2021 8:04 PM   Subscribe

A job in my field was recently posted on an industry message board. I replied in a PM that I was keen with a rough outline of my experience and the poster emailed me straight back and told me what the pay would be and asked if I still wanted to progress. It was on the low side and I’m overqualified for it but I replied yes because it WFH which is hard to get in my field. (I’m senior in my field and this is advertised as a mid level job with a very large organisation).

Anyway, I then submitted my CV and had an interview with the poster who would be my direct boss. He told me I was perfect for the role, his number one pick after looking extensively and he would line me up for a second interview with the ultimate boss.

Since then I’ve applied for several other jobs and it turns out I’m more employable than I thought, it’s a hot job market and I could be asking for more. The difference is these other jobs need me to be based in a different city which is not possible right now due to covid. The other two jobs are going to get back to me as to whether or not they’ll be ok with me working remotely but have said that they are keen on hiring me if they can make it work.

I’m currently overqualified for the original job but I still want it, I just want a bit more money. Not a lot, just a bit.

My second interview is on Monday, with a follow up with their head of recruitment where I would be shocked if I wasn’t offered the position.

So. My question is, is it too late to ask for a slightly more money especially given that they told me what they could pay going in and I agreed at the time that it was fine. If it is ok, do I have this discussion during the second interview with the big boss or with the head of recruitment afterwards and exactly how do I phrase it? Or do I just suck it up and leave it as is? What is the etiquette on this and how do I ask for more money without blowing the whole thing?
posted by Jubey to Work & Money (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If they told you a specific amount, rather than a range, it would be a bit poor-form to go through the whole dance and then ask for more. But, you are also not obligated in any way to actually accept the job if they offer it to you. I would wait until they make an offer, and then counter with "Thank you, I'm very excited about this opportunity. Unfortunately, I have received another offer for a comparable role but at X pay. If we can find a way to adjust the compensation to match, I would be ready to start by day Y!"
You should actually have another offer in hand, though, and be willing to walk if they can't adjust the compensation.
Alternatively, you could look for non-direct-compensation things for them to be flexible with - more PTO, a home office stipend, a bonus program, etc.
Lastly, you deserve a lot more money, not just a bit. Tell yourself that until you believe it.
posted by Diddly at 8:16 PM on September 3, 2021 [6 favorites]

It depends on your role and what if any discretion on the budget the hiring manager has. Likely they probably had some leeway in budget (or maybe not) but you're a bit beyond that.

I think your only move is to really would be to take the second interview, wait for the recruiter and be honest. Say you're really interested, that since you started interviewing you've been contacted by other companies for significantly more and if there was budget for whatever range you're looking for. I say "I am looking between x and y but I'm looking at holistic view of the entire compensation package when making my decision" (if applicable for you).

Be prepared to walk as their original amount is likely close to their budget. You're not indicating if you're 5% off or if you're significantly off. My friend is a recruiter and says that a lot of people given the semi-permanent WFH situation are applying outside their region and into traditionally high pay cities really skewing the curve. He's in Kansas City and is having a hard time convincing companies they'll keep losing out to the coasts if it is the same job, WFH and coastal firms are offering $30-40k for the same job that used to be local in a high priced city. Tech is a bit skewed but his point was that companies locally might want to pay more but if budgets are set, they're keep looking for someone in their budget even if they really want you ... unless you're in a key role in the company. If it is a large company I really doubt you're that essential unfortunately.

Keep in mind this is beginning of Q4 and likely a lot of held up approvals got the go ahead. I heard nothing in June-August and got a bunch of offers literally at once with one interview. I'd recommend taking what you can if you're needing the job and you think you're overqualified. WFH is a great way to keep looking. In my experience you'll get a bunch offers, feel confident, and if you're picky they'll go as fast they came and it'll feel like forever before the next wave comes.
posted by geoff. at 8:30 PM on September 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

Make a case. Why are worth more, how will you affect the company and make that pay worthwhile? Decide if you'll accept the current pay; know your line in the sand.
posted by theora55 at 8:38 PM on September 3, 2021

No, it's not too late at all. If you're still interviewing then they haven't made an official job offer yet. Once they do, that's when you can negotiate. Decide ahead of time what's acceptable for you. If the pay is fixed then ask for a salary review in 6 months, and maybe additional benefits such as paid time off or reduced hours (late morning start time or half days on Fridays, that kind of thing).
posted by mezzanayne at 11:22 PM on September 3, 2021

Best answer: During the interviews, before they hit the point where they decide to actually offer you a job and make you an offer, focus on trying to communicate how you'd be a good fit for the role and valuable for the organization. Focus on the benefit that you would bring, not the cost. Avoid shifting the conversation to focus how much you might cost to bring on board before they're convinced that they want you.

Wait until they make you a job offer at some proposed salary -- either in writing or a hiring manager giving you a call and verbally asking if you'll accept a role for some amount of money. Then ask for a bit more than what you want and see what happens. Don't feel you need to rush into accepting their first offer on the spot. See what happens. I recommend before saying yes or no, sleep on it and decide the next day. You can always say "i need to talk through this decision with my partner/family/..." (maybe you'll talk it through with your cat). They can pull the same trick too -- they propose $1.0x, you ask for $1.25x, they might say "hmm, that might be tricky, i'll have to check with blahblah to see if they're willing to approve stretching the budget for this role". (this might be true, or they might be seeing if you'll immediately cave in and negotiate yourself down to $1.1x. Don't be afraid to wait and let them to get back to you, especially if you know it's a hot job market.

> this is advertised as a mid level job with a very large organisation

when you're negotiating, keep in mind:

(i) (almost certainly) the person you're negotiating with isn't the owner of the org, it's not their money, they're not insulted if you ask for more
(ii) it might cost them $20k to identify each candidate they're willing to hire, and it might cost them $5k for each week they haven't filled the role. so if they've decided they'd like to employ you, and it's a tight market, they may be willing to stretch more for salary than what they would otherwise (made up numbers but you get the idea)

> Since then I’ve applied for several other jobs and it turns out I’m more employable than I thought, it’s a hot job market

This is the kind of valuable information you could state politely during a salary negotiation "since i started the interview process i've learned it is a hot job market and market rate for this role seems to be $abc -- i'm keen to come on board and join the team but it doesn't make financial sense for my family if i do that below market rate -- are you able to match that?"
posted by are-coral-made at 12:03 AM on September 4, 2021 [3 favorites]

There is a *ton* of great salary negotiation advice at Alison Green's wonderfully useful Ask A Manager site. Just last week she posted a roundup of the site's best questions and answers about negotiating salary. Or just browse the salary tag.

Watch out, though; the site can be as addictive as tvtropes.
posted by mediareport at 4:34 AM on September 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

I'm not going to give a better answer than the ones above, so all I'll say is: I have worked at a couple of jobs which I really enjoyed and gained great experience, but I found out after accepting I could have successfully pushed for more compensation. Lesson learned. Starting a role *knowing* you are being paid your worth is very validating.

If you have accurately gauged their interest in you, and you approach compensation in a respectful but firm way (and be prepared to walk!), you have nothing to lose. They will either accept the counteroffer or say they can't go any higher, leading to three scenarios: 1) you accept the offer at the higher amount (obviously the best outcome), 2) you accept the offer at the original amount (and at least feel good that you pushed them), or 3) it doesn't work out and you go back to the market.

Good luck!
posted by fortitude25 at 6:22 AM on September 4, 2021

it might cost them $20k to identify each candidate they're willing to hire, and it might cost them $5k for each week they haven't filled the role. so if they've decided they'd like to employ you, and it's a tight market, they may be willing to stretch more for salary than what they would otherwise

I've been in multiple negotiation situations like this and for some strange reason most companies never do this mental math. I've walked away from offers over a 5% gap in comp and I've watched the position continue to go unfilled for over a year afterward.

Diddly has it right, you reframe the conversation into something more immediate.

In my experience if you come back to the decision maker and give them two firm numbers (your salary and your starting date) and a promise to commit on the spot it suddenly clicks a lot faster. A closed deal is very appealing to recruiters. It's how they get paid. Don't wishy wash about giving exactly two weeks notice. Make this work for the new company and not the old one.

"I understand you're offering $X. If you can make it $X+10, I will sign right now and be ready to start on Monday the 13th".
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:32 AM on September 4, 2021 [3 favorites]

He told me I was perfect for the role, his number one pick after looking extensively and he would line me up for a second interview with the ultimate boss.

I think they know they are lowballing you, that’s why they’re so excited about you as a candidate. He’s seen the field and you’re everything they wanted and more and at a lower price that they should be offering you.

I’d say you have a pretty good chance of getting a slightly higher request accepted.
posted by like_neon at 9:21 AM on September 5, 2021 [2 favorites]

There's no harm in asking if there's any wiggle room on the salary. Also, what their policy is for raises, e.g. do you get a raise after a "probation" period?
posted by mulcahy at 3:14 PM on September 7, 2021

Response by poster: So, funny story. I went into the second interview ready to have that discussion about compensation when the extra amount I wanted was offered to me as part of the total package anyway, so I didn’t have to say a thing, it was just handed to me.

The interview was interesting, we spoke for a long time but part of the conversation was about her recognising my level of experience. The interviewer said that if I got the role, she was aware that they were going to have keep me happy and motivated so that I wouldn’t leave - and then asked where my aspirations were to move within the organisation and that she would build a roadmap to make it happen. So it’s been put out there and not by me either.

Anyway, I got the job. Yay me! Thank you for all your wise words, although I didn’t need to use them, I felt confident enough due to your advice that I could have. You guys rock.
posted by Jubey at 9:31 PM on September 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

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