Some Thoughts on Job Interviews and Salary

I occasionally get questions about how to handle the whole salary issue during the interview process:

  • What am I worth?
  • How do I compare to others in a similar job?
  • Can I negotiate?
  • What do I do if their salary offer is too low?

Best thing you can do is prepare yourself in advance for the possible offer to come. Research the company as best you can. Lots of info on the internet now. And you can check out what others are getting by going to or or similar links. Also, if you know anyone who works at the company or if they have a website that posts a pay range, find out what jobs in your category there pay. Also helpful if you happen to have a friend who works for a competitor.

Now all this is just general information to help you as a guide. Unless you actually get company-specific information, the figures you’ll find are indicative of the average, which means some companies may be way above or even way below. And of course other factors enter into your decision:

  • Benefits
  • Bonuses
  • Raises (how often and are they bare minimum/tied to a strict policy or is there room for employer discretion and a healthy increase if merited)
  • Commuting distance/ease
  • Employee policies
  • Environment
  • People
  • Good advancement potential
  • Doing something you love even if it pays less

And other factors I’m sure. Not to forget one of the biggest factors: I need a job!

But no matter how much you love the job or how much you need it, the best time to negotiate for what you deserve is up front, when you first get hired. It’s at least worth trying. (Remember all your raises are a multiplicative factor of that initial salary.) And, if negotiated well, it also establishes that you are someone who will stand up for what you believe in and deserve, but that you also know how to compromise if needed.

So go into your negotiation armed with knowledge and also with a belief in yourself – and let them know what you’re looking for. If you really really want the job and are worried that you may be way out of their ballpark – even after having done research – let them know this is the salary you prefer, but that you’re open to discussion. And for people out there who have a tendency to underprice themselves – don’t sell yourself short! (Often women do this, although it’s not limited by gender.)

But if their offer really is too low, just let them know what you are looking for and see how they respond. It’s ok to ask them to see if this is possible and get back to you. And if you’re willing to walk away…well, that’s an even stronger negotiating position. But I realize that’s not always possible.

Remain open but firm in your desire to get the most you can. And of course, stay friendly and respectful. In the end, you still have to work with each other if you take the job. And quite honestly, it’s also showing them who you are and how you’d be to work with on a daily basis.

Most of all…if you’ve done your best and the offer is still not all that you’d wish it to be, weigh all the elements (including how they acted during this process) and see if your gut tells you to take the job anyway. If you think they were being miserly and hard-nosed in a way that would reflect on the job itself, well…pay attention to that. But many times a job is budgeted within a range, and there isn’t too much give. (Although for certain jobs there is negotiating room, including things like extra time off or bonuses or even certain perks that would make the whole thing much more palatable.)

I’ve already posted on this topic before (as well as on the topic of asking for raises once you’re working), so please take a look at some or all of these. And for the shy ones, PLEASE at least read the first one!

Negotiating Job Salary: You Mean You Have to Ask?

How Do I Answer a Question About My Salary Expectations?

Help! I Got Offered the Job But Not the Salary I Wanted. Should I Take It?

Asking for a Raise in Salary – A Few More Thoughts

Good luck!

Ronnie Ann


About the author…

Ronnie Ann, founder of Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development and her own adventures as a serial job seeker. She can also be found on her new blog, and on Google+.


  1. Situation: you are a non-exempt employee and have a base salary of lets say 40,000….

    If you take a day off will you get paid for that day? whether it be a sick, personal time or vacation day?

    this position i have has full benefits and all the toppings but I am just curious about days that you call out since non-exempt is supposed to be hourly. Thanks

    I have 5 vacation days…I assume those are paid

  2. Hi Bubbles!

    Unfortunately I have no way of knowing exactly what your employee handbook says, but if you are a full-time employee guaranteed those benefits as part of your employment with the company, then yes, exempt or non-exempt, you get paid for those days as long as you stay within the limits of what company policy states.

    Your best bet is to get a hold of your handbook or ask your HR representative. But exempt and non-exempt employees still earn regular salary during vacation, sick, holiday, or allowable personal days days if these benefits are part of company policy.

    Ronnie Ann

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