How to Negotiate Your Compensation During Job Interview.

Afolabi Akindele

In all my years of running an interview, if there is any part I wish interviewee could handle

well, it is the part of negotiating a package for the job.

It is worrisome when people come across as too cheap or too expensive for a job. It demonstrates one or some or all of the following;
– You have not done your due diligence to find out what is obtainable in that work environment.

– You have not thought through to come to your minimum expectation below which you know you cannot go.

– You have probably not asked yourself why you need to have that job. Your priority may be for the experience you will get and not the money.

– You consider yourself so cheap that you think anything you are offered is okay

– You have been so poverty conscious that you are just excited to go with any amount you are offered. In your view therefore, you want to play safe so that they don’t say you are too expensive.Salary negotiation or discussion is usually done when the interviewer see a possibility of you being the candidate they are looking for. In instances when you are asked how much you would want to be paid at the exploratory stage of the interview (when there is no indication that you are the candidate being considered for the job), I will advise that you push answering that question to a later time.When it gets to the point where both parties realise that they need to be jointly involved in an outcome, though they originally have different objectives, both parties engage the use of argument and persuasion to resolve the difference to achieve a mutually acceptable solution. It is always better to work towards a win/win situation for obvious reasons. If you win and the organisation loses at this point by bending their hands to give you what you want, you may have chosen to pitch your tent with an enemy you have created for yourself. In the same way, your employer wants you to feel happy joining the organisation; their focus will be to get you to accept the job.

To get to this point where both parties are happy at the end of the day, there are 3 basic elements that you should master. Let me warn you at this point, do not take a job you are not happy with the compensation; you will be setting yourself up for career failure and it will be unfair on the organisation to do their job with disinterest. If you are not happy with the compensation, you are most likely not going to be enthusiastic about the job. Enthusiasm they say is the key to great accomplishment, nothing great was ever achieved or invented without it. Read my article on ‘the key to your next job – How to leverage your current job for your next dream job’ to understand why you must put in your best to every job

The three elements are;

  1. Knowledge: how knowledgeable are you about the compensation structure of the organization? Are you going to be negotiating from a point where the organization cannot afford for the CEO when you are being considered for a middle manager role for instance? Are you going to ask them to pay you far less than what the job pays? How important is the job to the organization and do they have an alternative if you turn the job down? Are there other benefits the organization offers that are not monetized and how do they help you address your concern? How knowledgeable are you of negotiating principles? Knowledge they say is power, how is that working to your advantage in this negotiation?


  1. Skill in analyzing issues: how skillful are you in analyzing issues and passing across reasons why they should consider your argument? How convincingly are you when you communicate? Knowledge and skills work together, one thing is to know, the other is to have the skills to analyze what you know to your advantage.


  1. Attitudes: what is your attitude towards the prospective employer when discussing? Are you communicating to them through your gestures that you are indispensable? How do you react when they say things that do not go well with you? Are you going to be infuriated or you address it analytically such that they readjust their position? Remember that the people you are negotiating with are probably going to be you colleagues, supervisor etc.

You need to know how to use these three elements to your advantage. It takes research to know, it takes personal development to acquire skills, and the foundation of every good attitude is to have an understanding of the golden law – do unto others what you want them to do to you.

Anytime you go for a job compensation discussion, always have 3 levels of settlement. These three levels of settlement must be decided by you when you have done your due diligence, you must never go for a job meeting without having information to help you make a decision.

The three settlement levels you must have handy are;

-The ideal or best possible deal

-The expected settlement level

-The worst though still just acceptable deal

Do not declare your upper or lower limits when negotiation begins. As much as possible, let them make you an offer first. You will be able to relate the offer to your three settlement levels and know what you should push for. You may be asked what your minimum expectation is, tell them you would like to know what they have to offer first. If however you must give a figure, it is better you start with your ideal deal or a bit higher. I assume that you have set these 3 settlement levels based on information you have about the organisation and your own goal.

Where you have the opportunity of your employer making you an offer first and it is higher than your ideal settlement level; that should give you an idea that they still have a better offer because they will not likely start with the best. You should tactically push it up a bit; after all if they say no, what they have offered you is still better than what you wanted.
Never tell a lie to boost your position, nothing as damaging as that. Learn how to use the truth to your advantage. It is better to walk away with your integrity intact than get a job and lose your credibility down the line when you are found out.

Never allow your prospective employer to appeal to your emotions more than your reasons; you must always resist this by taking the conversation away from emotions.
When you are granting concessions, as much as possible attach conditions to it – something for something rather than something for nothing. When considering concessions, introduce the condition first and do not give details of the concession until the other party shows some willingness to negotiate on the condition.

When you master these skills, negotiating what you want becomes easier.

Akindele Afolabi is a Career Management Consultant with Career Edge Limited. He helps organisations and individuals to take ownership of their career management initiatives.


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