Asked for too much at job interview - help!
January 25, 2008 11:24 PM   Subscribe

I just asked for too much at a job interview. Did I screw up?

I just went through a day long set of job interviews meeting with 8 different people and having absolutely fantastic response from everybody. When the salary discussion came at the end of the day I overshot by a lot and am feeling awkward and unsure. I don't know. Some friends are saying that everybody overshoots and to not freak out about it - but my fiance went apeshit and thinks I've sabotaged things by asking for too much. Unfortunately I won't hear more back until Monday but I hate festering over the weekend and wasn't sure if there is some type of message I should sent to the main interviewee some sort of 'I realized I asked for too much.' verbiage. Thanks for your help!!
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (22 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Not necessarily. If you are a fantastic candidate they may just offer you the job at the salary they have available to give you. If you are feeling like you sabotaged things, one possible message you could send out to the person who coordinated your interview is that you want whoever's hiring to know you are very interested in the job and that you are actually flexible within reason on the issue of salary, in case that didn't come across in person.
posted by PY at 11:44 PM on January 25, 2008

To my experience, you didn't mess up at all -- when I'm hiring, I don't pay much attention to the salary requirements; I have a certain budget for the position, and that's what I offer. If they want more, they have to ask for it. The only thing the salary requirement does is tell me if they're cheap, in which case I'll be happy to give them less. Thus, the salary requirement will only hurt them if they're too low. That's only happened a couple of times. Most are too high.

Your fiance is reacting because she's your fiance and she's very invested in this, and it sounds like she needs to take a step back. No worries, just be calm, cool, collected, don't freak out, and whatever you do, DON'T send the interviewer a message. That's a sign that they can get you cheaper than they would otherwise. Just wait until Monday. And besides, if this one went well, then there are other jobs out there and you'll do well with those interviews, too. Please ignore mhuckaba's response and don't tear your hair out. You're fine. Truly.
posted by incessant at 11:44 PM on January 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

I ran an interview session the other day where a woman 1 year out of college in engineering, overshot significantly, claiming she earnt far more than the starting salary. We all do industry surveys so we know the going rates.

She lost the job, but not because of this point. She lost the job because she was an arrogant piece of work, who refused to take responsibility for her actions, which came out under questioning, everything that had ever gone wrong was due to someone else's errors, never her. People like that infuriate me (/vent)

To be honest, wouldn't bother me that you overshot. If I liked you because of the interview/assessment, then I'd go ahead and make you an offer anyway. Usually we call up and say we'd like to make you an offer, are you interested in receiving it. Up to you to say yes or no.

If I were you, I'd simply call up on Monday and thank the interviewer for the opportunity to meet them and say how interested you were in the position, even more so after meeting with them. Lets them know that you're interested. Good luck!
posted by arcticseal at 11:44 PM on January 25, 2008

Take a deep breath, don't worry. Don't send a note. Relax.

People ask for a lot of money all the time. Companies offer what they can pay. If they like you, they will make an offer. It might be less than you mentioned, but it will be your call.

I've seen people take offers $30,000 below what they asked for and smile. It's a normal situation.
posted by Argyle at 11:45 PM on January 25, 2008

I overshot by a lot and am feeling awkward and unsure.

Why do you think you missed the mark? It could be that the business is under estimating the value of the job. Maybe they have no idea what type of salary they should apply to the position. Perhaps the next three guys they interview will ask for even more...

my fiance went apeshit and thinks I've sabotaged things by asking for too much.

There is absolutely no reason for your fiance to act in this way. Apeshit? Really? It sounds like he/she is really overreacting. Maybe he/she is more interested in your earning potential than you as a person...

wasn't sure if there is some type of message

What are you going say, "Uh hey guys, thanks for the interview today... sorry I blew my wad during the salary part... ummm... I realize now that I'm worth much less, so I'll take whatever you'll give me... please! I'll take anything, my fiance has me sleeping on the couch! I really need this job! Maybe you could talk to him/her?"

No. Screw the company. It's their own fault for not stating a range up front. They naively wasted an entire day of productivity interviewing someone who they can't afford to hire. That'll teach them!

I think you're getting all worked up over nothing and your fiance, rather than being supportive and helping you relax about it, has just made matters much worse.

In the end it's a fricking job interview... one of many which you'll have in your life. Guess what? They all aren't going to go half this well. Some of them will be down right bad. Let's hope your fiance (who later will be your wife/husband) is a little more supportive in the future.
posted by wfrgms at 11:45 PM on January 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

On preview, what incessant and PY said. Let us know how it goes!
posted by arcticseal at 11:46 PM on January 25, 2008

I was going to write a response but am just seconding what incessant said. I've conducted interviews myself. If we wanted you we'd be scrambling to see if we could get you the salary you asked for. If we couldn't, we'd make an offer anyways. You're fine.

Why your fiance is freaking out seems like a separate issue that has little to do with this specific case.
posted by vacapinta at 11:51 PM on January 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't worry about it, but it would be somewhat helpful to have an idea of the position and how much (or even why you think you) overshot. As many have said, it's not likely to hurt you at all, and I know of many cases where companies look for this sort of "ambition" - even if the starting salary is nowhere near that high. So good luck and don't worry about it. Your fiance will think you're a genius if it works out!
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 12:21 AM on January 26, 2008

Um, you take into account what someone thinks their worth is, you factor in that they're adding up more to make themselves happier in general and see if they can skotch any more out and then factor in what they've seen elsewhere and what they think the market will bear and that's the number they'll give you.

Then you offer them what you think is appropriate in the range of what you've had budgeted based on their experience, how much training and oversight you *think* might be necessary and what else you see in them.

If they refuse because you came in dramatically lower, then it wasn't meant to be. If they really want you, they'll make you an offer that they want to make you. If you want to play hardball, you can fight for a bit more—salary negotiations are expected. Crazy idea, that.

You didn't shoot yourself in the foot for it, though. No worries. If they're truly impressed, they'll make you an offer. They won't particularly worry about insulting you just because they have to come in far lower. They'll make it clear that's what they have the budget for.
posted by disillusioned at 12:32 AM on January 26, 2008

Don't worry, they will not hesitate to counter-offer on the amount if they want to hire you.
posted by salvia at 12:51 AM on January 26, 2008

Like everyone says, you are most likely to get a counter offer. I recently suggested a number that was about 15k a year above what it turns out they had in mind. I thanked them, said that with the huge interest I had in the job that I was flexible when it came to salary, but would need a day to run the numbers and discuss at home what was feasible, and that perhaps she could have another look at her own numbers and I would call back tomorrow. This for a job that I would have taken at the time for a lot less. When we spoke the next day they offered 5k more, which isn't much, but let me feel like I had a "win". Now I've been at the job a month and love it enough that I would pay them to let me work there ;) *shhhhh*

The only time I've heard of overshooting leading to a problem was where the employer replied to the offer by saying that they were basically afraid of the employee resenting them if they accepted the job at a rate much lower than they felt they were worth. In that case my mate just sort of gawped at them and gave up since the job wasn't one where you could respond with "Well to be honest, having met you guys and heard more about the job, it seems like something that has a lot more benefits than just the paycheck, such as job satisfaction, good location whatever....".
posted by Iteki at 2:50 AM on January 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

Your fiance is reacting because she's your fiance and she's very invested in this, and it sounds like she needs to take a step back.

How do you know it's a she? Just asking.

Hope you get the job, anonymous!
posted by hadjiboy at 4:24 AM on January 26, 2008

if you told them you're making more now than you are, and they clearly would know that, then that would be a problem - dishonesty, etc.

BUT, it sounds like you simply asked for a lot - that sounds like ambition to me

i wouldn't worry about it
posted by Salvatorparadise at 6:04 AM on January 26, 2008

Don't worry about it and definitely don't send a note. I don't even think it reflects poorly on you.

If they want to hire you, they just might offer you the job at a realistic salary.
posted by Count Ziggurat at 6:35 AM on January 26, 2008

Don't worry. Like everyone said. No notes. Remember to breathe.
posted by snowjoe at 7:28 AM on January 26, 2008

hadjiboy: Usually fiancé refers to a male and fiancée refers to a female. If anything, the fiancé in question is a male!
posted by PuGZ at 7:35 AM on January 26, 2008

Agreeing with everyone there's probably no harm done. If their counter-offer is lower, consider counter-countering by asking for salary plus something else you want, like more time off.
posted by ottereroticist at 7:44 AM on January 26, 2008

I interview people all the time, and am involved in salary decisions.

Just ride it out and see what happens. If they want you, they'll ask if you'll take less.

If they think less of you because you asked for too much, then the damage is done. Telling them you screwed up is ridiculous, no matter how you slice it. It will just make you sound like you don't know what you're worth.
posted by bingo at 7:46 AM on January 26, 2008

If anything, the fiancé in question is a male!

Er, hence my point; incessant was referring to the "fiancé" as a she.

posted by hadjiboy at 8:33 AM on January 26, 2008

(I'm the poster that asked the question)

Thank you everybody for your input! After sleeping on it I am much calmer now and will be checking with my better half to see how he is feeling about it. I'm keeping mum till Monday and hopefully an offer letter will be part of the near future.

posted by I'm-calmer-now-thanks-hivemind! at 9:51 AM on January 26, 2008

There are probably as many answers to this question as there are bosses...
I for one am put off by candidates who ask "too much", but i work at a non-profit where we all work for less than comprable jobs in the for profit sector.
posted by dougiedd at 1:19 PM on January 26, 2008

I do have to chime in with dougiedd; I was on the board of directors for a non-profit that hired a director. We didn't even interview a highly qualified lady since her salary requirements were almost twice what we could offer.
posted by Monday at 11:13 AM on January 27, 2008

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