I am interviewing for a position in Germany with an international European company. I have had 2 interviews, one with the country head and HR, the second with operational managers, including the one I would be working with.
During the first interview, the country head asked me for my salary expectation, and I referred him to the conversation he had had with the head-hunter who introduced me. Since he was insisting for a specific figure, I gave him a number Xk€, and he responded with the lowest number the head-hunter had given him, let's call it Yk€. I accepted Yk€ as it was still within my preferred range. This seemed to be acceptable to him and I thought the salary discussion was closed. However, HR called a week after my second interview to inform me that they had interviewed another candidate who is asking for significantly lower than Yk€. She also mentioned that they find my profile interesting, and they need to make a decision as to who will attend the 3rd and final round of interviews. She said she would call back in a week to find out if I would lower my salary expectation.
I see that this is an attempt to negotiate my salary further down, but I am confused that this was brought up before an offer was made and in contradiction to what the country head had previously said. I would like to work for this company and hope to start the working relationship with everyone on a positive note, but also want to keep the salary level as discussed in the original interview. Should I contact the country head about this change prior to the call with HR, or wait until I hear back about the next round of interviews? If I contact the country head, what would be a productive way to go about that conversation?