I'm a rather successful senior software engineer with a decent LinkedIn page, and thus I often receive messages from recruiters from other companies.
I like my current company and job, so I'm not actively looking for a new job. However, when contacted by a decent company about a decent position I will go to interviews and will try to get an offer from them. This is mainly to keep up with my real market value: to know what type of positions and salaries I can get i, for whatever reason, I have to quit my current company. Also, if a new company were to offer me an interesting position and a salary that is substantially higher than my current salary, I would probably try to negotiate a counter-offer from my current employer (I know some guys who really did this here), or actually accept the job.
In this situation, what is the best strategy to negotiate salary on such interviews?
First, if asked about my salary expectations, what should I answer?
Assume my current salary is X. I can quote a digit around 0.75X to make sure I do not miss offers which are not good for me now, but which can be interesting if I have to quit. Or I can quote a substantially higher sum (1.3X-1.5X) that would make an offer interesting right now, but in such a case I can miss more "backup" offers.
Second, assume I am offered a position and a salary that is more-or-less similar to what I get now. For me, this is good to know in terms of keeping up with the market and I get an additional confirmation that I'm not paid over too much; but I definitely would not accept the offer. At the same time I can try to negotiate a salary; after all, I have nothing to lose as I am not going to accept an offer otherwise. However, even if I succeed in negotiation, I will most probably not accept a new offer either. I will use the negotiated offer, first, once again to keep up with market (now I know that I can get even more; moreover now I know how far I can get with negotiation) and second, to try to get a counteroffer. I would only consider actually accepting the negotiated offer if it was significantly above my current salary (say, 1.5X).
Although such a negotiation seems profitable to me (I get more knowledge and a slim chance to get more money), I feel a little uncomfortable with it, because I am basically deceiving the company. Moreover, I'm afraid that negotiating and then rejecting a negotiated offer could result in worse attitude to me should I some time later actually apply to the same company.
So should I try negotiation in this case, and what should be my strategy?
Some more notes:
I think that currently I have a relatively high salary, so if I have to quit, I will not be able to find a similar position quickly.
I'm writing "if I have to quit", but this does not mean that I have any reason to expect this. Right now, everything is ok, so this is just for a low-probability case.
Obviously, I do not follow all the route of interviews for each and every company that contacts me. For most of them we, do not go further than a couple of emails when it becomes obvious that the position is completely off-topic for me, they are not ready to pay even 0.5x of my current salary (see point #1 above), I'm not ready to relocate, etc. But from time to time I get more interesting possibilities, and a couple of times in the past several years I got an offer.
I'm talking about salary, but obviously I mean overall compensation including non-monetary bonuses.