How should you discuss salary with a potential employer?

Salary discussions can be sensitive at the best of times. Therefore, if you’re halfway through an interview trying to impress the person opposite, it can feel like even more of a risk to bring up money. However, financial incentives are an important area to get clarity on. Plus, a potential employer is more likely to be impressed if you can confidently discuss your salary requirements, as opposed to skirting the issue. So, how do you do it?

Before you get into the interview room

Do your research. If the job description has a salary attached but you’ve got more to offer than the average candidate then be ready to highlight it. Try to find out what the market rate is for someone with your skills and knowledge and – if necessary – what someone like you might make in a similar position elsewhere. You can’t estimate when you’re discussing salary – it’s facts and figures that are convincing.

Picking the right phase

If you’re going to be part of a staggered interview process then the first interview is probably not the right time to start negotiating your salary. Once you make it to the shortlist then you know that you’re a contender and it’s at that point that you can start placing a value on what you can offer a potential employer.

Choosing the right moment

Although there are no hard and fast rules about which point in the interview might be best to bring up the issue of salary, safe to say that it’s unwise to open with it. Equally, don’t just drop it randomly into the conversation, give your interviewer time to raise it during the interview. If they don’t, and no opportunity arises to bring it up naturally, it’s an obvious point to raise at the “have you got any questions” stage.

Using the right words

The more natural you can sound when you bring up the issue of salary, the better. Remember that the employer is not doing you a favour in giving you the job, you’re going to work hard for whatever salary you eventually agree on. So, be bold when asking the question and don’t be ashamed to ask for what you want. Some useful ways to drop this topic include:

“I’d like to ask a few questions about the contract…”

“Can you tell me a bit more about the financial package you’re offering?”

“It would be great to know more about the job prospects…”

If you really can’t find a good opportunity to raise the topic of salary during the interview then a follow-up email can sometimes be just as effective.