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So, I stated a salary range during an initial interview with a company. It was based on information extracted from 2 websites, where I found example salary ranges offered by this comany for similar roles. One website was stating higher ranges than the other. So, I kind of made an average of the 2, because I was worried that if I only take into account the website with the higher ranges, I may be overestimating. In contrast, if I consider the website with the lower ranges, I may be underestimating.

But let's say that I'm underestimating. If I am asked the salary expectation question again in a subsequent interview, what do I comment after stating the numbers? In the case of a potential overestimation, you can argue how you are good fit for the job and have the right experience and skillset in order to convince them. But I'm wondering what can be said in the opposite case.

I am asking this here as I am not experienced in this matter because I come from an academic job where the salaries are not negotiable.

Edit: I am not planning on mentioning a higher range in a subsequent interview. Just what to comment after stating the salary, such that I don't look like I'm underestimating.

Also, I wasn't given any feedback on the range I gave, probably because

the initial salary question is done as an "order of magnitude" sanity check

as Hilmar answered below.

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  • If asked again, why would you correct your number upwards if you still don't know whether you really were underestimating? It's unlikely they would outright tell you that they are willing to pay you more. – Peter Feb 6 at 11:34
  • that's the thing, I didn't mean that I'm going to correct the numbers. Just asking what to say after stating them. Or do I just stick with "based on my research on similar roles in your company, I'm asking for range x" with no further explanation. – mbl20 Feb 6 at 12:04
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    In general, unless you know the company pays significantly less or more than market value, I think it's good to ask for what you think you're worth not what you think they're willing to pay you. Ideally you'll have multiple offers and can use those to find out what your market value is and maybe use them as leverage. – Peter Feb 6 at 12:27
  • Does this answer your question? Salary negotiations after verbal agreement – gnat Feb 6 at 13:23
  • @gnat , not really, there has been no agreement. Please see my earlier comment. – mbl20 Feb 6 at 13:36
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Never give any reason, at all, for a desired salary.

When you are asked your height, you state your height (say, 5'11", or whatever it may be).

Stating a number in a salary negotiation is the same.

Just state it. Like when you state your height.

If you think about it, the "reasons" for stating a number in a salary negotiation are completely obvious and a given. Hence it is completely, totally, pointless to state the reasons. The only thing it can lead to is an (unanswerable) debate over those reasons.

Sure, you can add one or two words of empty small talk. So, instead of literally utterly,

$99,000

you might say

What about $99,000

or

I'm thinking $99,000 is right

or

$99,000 seems about right here

Or any other such polite - but short - phrase.

In your example,

"based on my research on similar roles in your company, I'm asking for range x"

I would suggest, that's "too much".

You've added in a reason ("research"). The obvious response is "oh, we did research and you're wrong" - !

Also, don't say "range", it's weak and indeed plain confusing.

Obviously, any number you state is just a starting point of a negotiation, so it's pointless stating that. It is also pointless literally giving a range ("what about 90 to 99 thousand") since they will immediately just take that as the first number.

Also, I would strictly avoid the words "asking for". It's very weak, you're not "asking for" anything, it's not a handout situation. You're both 100% adults coming to a business decision. Just state your side of the situation.

Note too that in practice you make it "more detailed" in most cases, which makes it more specific and adds a few words. This can avoid adding fluff.

With the benefits you have mentioned, $99,000

or

Hmm, with the retirement fund and gym membership I think $99,000.

By all means, you should be polite, almost obsequious, in stating your salary. I usually say it with a "question mark on the end" (what do you think about, what about, etc). BUT

(i) NO reasons or rationales - they are self-evident

(ii) "just state it" - as short as possible, maybe just a couple of polite add=on words

(iii) avoid any even vaguely "beggy" language-words ... hoping, asking etc

Good luck.

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    thanks a lot for your thorough reply! Regarding the range, I thought it was the "norm" to specify a range instead of a single value, as it shows more flexibility (this is what I found on the internet when I was preparing for this interview question). That's why I went with a range. However, I do not believe that should be the case, for the exact same reason you mentioned. – mbl20 Feb 6 at 12:57
  • @mbl20 you are right! and best of luck. remember, practice takes years. you have 100s of such negotiations ahead of you in a lifetime, enjoy each one! – Fattie Feb 6 at 15:01
  • A range absolutely makes sense. The company can make an offer at the top end of the range, and I'll start immediately. They can make an offer at the bottom end, and I'll accept the other if three weeks later I found nothing better. It has nothing to do with flexibility really. – gnasher729 Feb 7 at 11:19
  • @gnasher729 as I said, I definitely do not have experience in this matter. I think I read it here. Is it really possible that a company would make an offer at the top end of the range, even though they know that you are ok with accepting less (i.e. the lower end you told them)? – mbl20 Feb 7 at 12:02
  • @mbl20 > my best guess if that happens is that your range was too low. Unfortunately you can hardly ask for a bigger amount now that they gave you exactly what you asked for... – Laurent S. Feb 7 at 13:17
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If I am asked the salary expectation question again in a subsequent interview, what do I comment after stating the numbers?

In most cases, the initial salary question is done as an "order of magnitude" sanity check. If they have a 50k budget and you are a 100k candidate, there is no point in proceeding.

A range is also fine and appropriate here for a very simple reason: base salary is just one component of a typical compensation/offer package. There is also bonus, equity, benefits, retirement plans (pensions, 401k matches, etc), relocation, sign-on bonus, other perks, etc. So it's unreasonable to nail down a single number before the other details are on the table.

It's always possible to revise your number later in the game. It's best if you have a good story of why. Examples: "more time to do research", "better understanding of role & responsibilities", "deep dive into cost of living, benefits and comp structure", "change in personal circumstances", etc.

This is not entirely risk free: The company may take issue with that, consider you a "indecisive waverer" or you simply push yourself out of range. I would say in most cases one moderate adjustment from the initial rough number for a decent reason is unlikely to do real harm. But you have only ONE shot at this: trying to do this twice looks bad.

In the case of a potential overestimation, you can argue how you are good fit for the job and have the right experience and skillset in order to convince them.

Yes. There are plenty of articles and post about salary negotiation. It's best based on talking directly to the value you will be bringing to the company. Don't say I'm awesome at doing XYZ, say I believe my awesomeness in XYZ can help significantly reduce time to market (or whatever it's good for).

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  • thanks for these interesting insights! – mbl20 Feb 6 at 13:39
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Every position, in the US at least, has a "salary range" approved by HR and the Legal team, which the hiring manager must live with. The manager merely wants to know if you'd be satisfied with that, and if (s)he's truly interested in you will eventually just ask.

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