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I think will be getting a job offer soon. They interviewed with me 4 times now.

They kept asking what I want or my salary range. I never gave them a clue. At the end told them if they think I can bring a value, asked them to make me an offer with a smile. They reached out again today for a short interview with someone else over the phone.

I feel they will reach out soon with a job offer and if they do and make an offer, what's the best way to start negotiation?

Lets say they low ball me and should I always say thank you for the offer and ask them to give me a time to think over? Or should I immediately respond back with denial and start negotiating?

Better over the phone or email?

I'll take all of the advise you can give me

Thank you!

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    "They kept asking what I want or my salary range. I never gave them a clue." Why? I would rather know that a company is trying to lowball me before wasting my time through their interview process.
    – sf02
    Commented Oct 4, 2022 at 19:46
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    They may not bother with an offer since you have been so dismissive about the salary.
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Oct 4, 2022 at 19:52
  • Have you asked them for a salary range that they are willing to offer you ? That is the first step. Commented Oct 4, 2022 at 23:45

3 Answers 3

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Honestly - I'd avoid the game of trying to pattern this in terms of the script of interactions between yourself and this company.

In the end, most companies have a range in their mind related to the role and also what they can afford. A reasonably smart company is not trying to underbid you so hard that you work there for 3 months, easily find a better offer and then leave. And they are also not going to pay you the absolute top dollar that anyone has ever been paid for this job - ideally that person is someone who already works there who they already know to be simply amazing.

Similarly - you (should) have a range in your head, that is somewhere between the least money you can afford to be paid and still live a life that is at least on par with your current standard of living, and the upper range of the rate you can get with current skills and experience.

So the goal here is to:

  1. See if there is any alignment between these two ranges. If not, you all should have had this conversation before the long interview process.
  2. See what you can do to get as close to the top of your range without blowing outside of their range

When the offer comes in, my state machine on this would be:

Is the offer within your current range?

  • Way too low - say it. Don't wait a day and then say it. Drawing this out doesn't really help. They will ask you what you want - give a number that is solidly in the middle of your range. You know from the way low offer, that they are likely not going to make it all the way to the top of your range. See what type of reaction you get. There may even be some back and forth here. The person making you this really low offer is likely trying to figure out if they can find a way to create an offer package you will accept, and also how many rounds of inter-company approval will be required.
  • Higher than the top of your range - woohoo! congrats! This is probably a good time to stop. Yeah, you could argue for even more, but if you are already getting a fantastic package, but over the long haul, it's not such a bad option to leave $$ on the table for future promotions.
  • Inside your range - decide how far you want to push - if you are good at acting, you try a slightly curmudgeonly "can you do any better?" - especially if this is on the low side of what you really want. Since they are in your range, this is the place were you can make them guess a little and see if they'll surprise you, since it probably won't take too much back and forth negotiation to get a number you both like.

Some other caveats:

  • Different companies handle offer processes differently - a company may be willing to go through a long period of negotiation with you before moving on to the next acceptable candidate... or they may have multiple candidates and be willing to simply draw the line after 1 attempt at negotiation. Knowing the difference has a lot to do with experience in interviewing and judging the current labor market you are in.
  • Building and approving offers takes time and money on the company's part. If the offer is outside of the normal range, it will likely take extra time and effort and approval from more important people. Sometimes I will even ask the recruiter (if I sense a lot of tension) - "am I really pushing your salary range for this role?" - especially if I have a trusting relationship with the recruiter, I can get an honest answer.
  • The top of the range isn't always the best place to be. Most companies baseline compensation into ranges (especially salaried roles) - a XYZ title will make between $$ and $$$ most of the time. A solid offer probably focuses on keeping you in the lower 50% of this range. Having somewhere to go in the range gives your manager a way to give you raises each year in ways that recognize your great performance. Being at the absolute top of the range may mean that your raises look pretty lame until you get a promotion into a different range (usually associated with a job title change). Sometimes these ranges aren't something a recruiter will discuss - they are generally confidential, but I find it helps to know they are there.
  • Study up on the vernacular of their compensation package and how it works over time? What is in there besides salary? Bonuses? Stock options or grants? Usually there's a briefing doc that they can send or send a link to where you can learn this stuff before the actual offer conversation. Also worth asking - how often is the variable comp given (bonuses, grants, options are usually variable - ie, not the same year over year)? What was the average payout for this role last year? For example, if they offer a bonus that is 20% of salary, did they pay folks a 20% bonus last year? OR was it lower or higher? Why the difference? This is a conversation you can have well before you actually get an offer.
  • Mentally separate what they are actually giving you vs. their hopes for your professional future. For example - your title, your division, your salary - is stuff they are really giving you. The quote "This a growth opportunity, we'll give you the opportunity to take on the XYZ project and that will assure you of a promotion reasonably quickly" - that's a hope for your future and not an actual commitment. That stuff is great, but it's not part of your compensation.

Hang in there. Negotiation is rough - it helps if you've been in an industry for a while and you've got a sense of how companies in your role/country/industry do this stuff - as there are nuances that can be very different from place to place. But hopefully the above is a decent lay of the land and general enough to be useful.

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Better over the phone or email?

Really disagree with Joe's answer on this one. I think there is nothing cumbersome to have a few emails back and forth. Doing it by email gives you a number of big advantages over phone or in person in my opinion.

  • It gives you some time to think about the offer.

  • It gives you some time to really evaluate and understand the value of the offer by itself or in comparison to other offers and/or your current job. This is often far from trivial. A job might offer a higher monthly salary than your current job but for instance will have far less pension or health insurance benefits. Other factors which might come into play are number of holidays, (absence) of travel reimbursements, company/industry-specific insurances you have to pay (bit me in the ass onetime), (guaranteed) end of year bonus, net gain of higher income after income tax.

  • If you are expecting other interesting offers, it gives you the possibility to stall a bit.

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  • The devil is always in the details. The details will be in the e-mail not in the phone call. So going over the details. Commented Oct 5, 2022 at 16:34
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I feel they will reach out soon with a job offer and if they do and make an offer, what's the best way to start negotiation?

If they reach out with a job offer, then by definition negotiations have started. At that point, the ball would be in your court to assess the offer and reply.

Lets say they low ball me and should I always say thank you for the offer and ask them to give me a time to think over? Or should I immediately respond back with denial and start negotiating?

If you get an offer below what you are willing to accept, there is nothing to think over. Just thank them for the offer but indicate that it doesn't work for you.

You can also indicate that if that's the best they can do, then you clearly have different opinions regarding your value to the company. If they then agree that this is their best offer, thank them for their time, wish them good luck in filling the position, and move on.

If you get an offer that might be acceptable, ask for time to think it over. Decide if you are willing to accept the offer, or if you should ask for more.

If you get an offer that is more than you expected, and clearly acceptable - just accept. Make sure you know all the important details about the job and the offer before you take this step. If you still need to know more, then ask.

Better over the phone or email?

Best in person. Okay over the phone. Avoid email if at all possible - it's too cumbersome to do back and forth negotiation that way.

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