How to talk about money in a job interview?


“The main thing is to get a job, and the salary may be raised later” – so many of us think at the interview, afraid to discuss the subject of money, and then work for many years not at all on the conditions for which they hoped. How not to become a hostage of such a situation and get the salary you want you will read in this article from

The size of the salary is one of the most important conditions for applicants, but most people do not discuss money at the interview, believing that it can spoil the impression of them and the employer will consider them mercantile. The reason for such thoughts lies in insecurity, inability to negotiate about money or exhaustion of the search process, and ignorance of the potential for such a discussion. 

First and foremost, it is important to understand that at a job interview, the job seeker and the employer are on an equal footing: the former needs the job and the latter needs the employee. Therefore, the negotiation process is equally important for both. The job seeker fears rejection, and the employer, in turn, worries that a suitable candidate will not be found or will not agree to his terms.

Everyone has their own conditions: for the job seeker it is the level of pay below which he will not agree to work, and for the employer it is the maximum amount above which he cannot pay. This negotiation strategy is called BATNA (Best Alternative To Negotiated Agreement) – the most advantageous alternative that a negotiator can accept if they are unsuccessful and no agreement can be reached. 

The interview is a game in which the goal of the two parties is to learn the BATNA of the interlocutor. The art of negotiation comes down to doing it first and ending the game on favorable terms.

Here are some tips to help with that:

1. Do not call a number first

 If you voice your salary wish first, that’s probably what you’ll get, maybe a little more or less. Until you understand the full range of your responsibilities and what you will have to work with, you should not name a specific amount, so that you do not have to change your mind later.

In turn, the employer at the beginning of the conversation might seem exaggerated, because he does not know yet what kind of competencies you possess and how you can be useful to the company. Maybe later he will change his mind about the salary in your favor.  

2. Don’t quote a single amount.

There are situations when the recruiter persistently asks a direct question about salary expectations. Then you can answer: “I will be able to define my expectations accurately when I understand my workload and the content of the work”; “I expect a fair average compensation in the market”. 

And you can also ask the counter question, “Do you have a specific budget for this role?”

If you do have to name a figure, determine the middle ground – the figure is the one you’re realistically willing to work for. Remember: your interlocutor will remember this minimum, and it should be quite acceptable to you, so you do not feel that you took a cheap price. 

3. When you receive an offer, bargain. 

This is appropriate if you have not discussed money before. As a rule, the first offer made by the employer is lower than possible, so bargaining is appropriate. However, you have to do it in a reasoned way. 

Arguments in your favor may include:

– Market realities.

Operate on information about salaries in your field. Talk about having studied the market and knowing the real value of your skills.

– Your value as an employee.

For the company, it’s measured not only in money, but also in how much value the new employee can bring to the company. 

For example, how much he will help save in purchasing or production costs, how much he will bring in new customers, or whether he will be able to optimize work processes.

4. Think in terms of total compensation, not just salary. 

When getting the best offer for yourself, don’t get hung up on salary – there are plenty of other compensation options. For example, one-time bonuses or sign-on bonus (signing bonus), profit-sharing (equal percentage of profit for all employees if the company achieves certain goals) can be negotiated.

A standard social package may include payment for day-care facilities, compensation for babysitting services, payment for sports, training, lunches, a company car, and so on. All of these are worth asking about, because it can also be advantageous for companies to offer something from the benefits package in lieu of a salary increase. 

5. Do not negotiate salary in writing. 

Many people receive a final offer from a company by e-mail and try to justify their position on this issue as intelligently, beautifully and logically as possible in the reply email. But this approach is a sure loser. Written communication is appropriate only to formalize agreements already reached. If you want to discuss a written proposal, arrange a personal meeting or call.  

Sometimes, despite their best efforts, the job seeker, time after time, gets an offer at the interview that is much lower than the one they had hoped for. What could be wrong? 

  1. A weak resume. If you are offered a range of responsibilities that you have long outgrown, it means that you have not clearly and favorably reflected in your resume your actual work experience, skills, achievements.
  1. You do not understand your value as a professional, and therefore you do not know what you are looking for. You may not be matching your own roles to your level and/or area of responsibility correctly. You need a deeper understanding of your strengths, weaknesses, and desired professional path.
  1. You have not researched the market. Salaries for the same professional can vary significantly depending on the field and size of the company. Research the job market with information about salaries in the field you want, look at salary sites such as, seek out people you know at companies you are interested in, and check with them about functionality and approximate salary range.
  1. You haven’t talked about salary. Clarifying approximate salary expectations makes sense the first time you talk on the phone, but after discussing job duties.In general, during the interview process, you should prove to the employer that your skills and experience will be useful to the company.

Also, a few tips to follow when it comes to salary:

  1. Keep your income history and salary from your previous job to yourself. Make the employer evaluate you without relying on someone else’s opinion, and help them do so.
  1. Analyze your upcoming job and understand how your performance will affect the company’s profits. Then discuss how your skills can make the best possible impact.
  1. Evaluate the value of your work relative to the profitability of the company that you can deliver. Then present this to your interlocutor.
  1. State the limits of your desired salary, which you can justify. If you don’t come to an agreement, you shouldn’t waste your time. A smart manager is always willing to negotiate. 


Remember, the employer is as human as you are, and negotiating for money can make everyone uncomfortable. It’s important not just to ask for more money, but to build trust throughout the conversation.

A willingness to understand the company’s problems and a sincere desire to respond to them will serve as the best proof that you are a valuable employee who is willing to play on the team, and then the compensation decision will be made in your favor.