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I recently went to a job interview for a software developer position. It was for a programming language I don't use in my current full time job. I'm currently a web developer, I have 18 years development experience.

I have been using the required language in my free time since 2010 and have two apps in the App Store, written in the required language.

Prior to the interview I had to submit my salary expectations, which I did, which covered the extra parking costs in the city center and a small increase from my current salary.

During the interview they mentioned pay cut, starting at a graduate level and that I may be more suited at a web developer role they had.

I didn't leave with a good feeling and wasn't really interested in a web developer role.

Anyways they came back saying they would only be able to offer me the graduate level salary, which was quite low even for a graduate and therefore since this was much lower that my stated salary expectations that they didn't offer me the job.

However they did recommend another company they knew who was looking,

I've had a look at that companies website and it says any experience level. However I'm not too keen on wasting a days holiday (I'd have to book off a days holiday) or going through the whole process only to find that they wouldn't be prepared to offer a decent salary.

I know that they would have to value my experience against costs etc, which they wouldn't be able to do until they evaluated my application.

My concern is that I could add something to my covering letter, along the lines of, I couldn't go below X salary but i don't really want to give any figure invade they were prepared to pay more.

I'm looking for some advice, I'm based in the UK.

  • Your other problem is you asked for a small increase - its a bit of signal that your unsure of your value. – Neuromancer Jan 15 at 21:34
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It is perfectly reasonable to ask the salary range for the role when you contact the company to make enquiries. In the normal course of events they should be able to tell you. At that point you are able to judge whether it is worthwhile interviewing.

You could request an initial telephone interview given the slightly less formal method by which you came to be enquiring in the first place. Any reputable company would comply I am sure.

If they won't/can't tell you the salary range and won't/can't do an initial telephone interview then, for me, that would be sufficient indication that it's likely to end as a complete waste of time.

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How to ensure a reasonable salary before interview?

If you truly must be assured that your idea of a "reasonable salary" will be met before you spend time interviewing, then you must

  • Only apply for jobs that have a posted (publicly available) salary
  • Or, ask the recruiter or hiring manager the target salary before agreeing to an interview

This will clearly limit the jobs for which you can interview, but if avoiding an interview where there is a chance of a lower offer is your main priority, then you must accept that limitation.

Most folks don't choose this route. Instead, most people will make their salary expectations clear when asked, and accept the fact that some interviews will result in a lower than "reasonable" offer. So it goes.

I'm looking for some advice

I would advise that your drop your "ensure reasonable salary before interview" requirement. One interview isn't too much work, if you eventually end up with a great job.

  • Not a good idea in the current market which is hot in the UK – Neuromancer Jan 15 at 21:33
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Firstly - you should always negotiate your salary. It is almost never the case (unless you are applying for a very low level position) that the salary offered is the salary available/authorized for that position.

The situation you faced is very common - where you go to an interview for position X and the company either:

  1. Offers you a salary lower than what you expected/requested.
  2. Offers you a different job at a lower pay.

The first one is a common tactic and something that is almost to be expected; very rarely do you come across a position where the salary you request is granted.

The second point can be a sign of a bait-and-switch; where they advertise for lucrative position X in hopes to fill in less-desirable position Y; however I do not think this may be the case here; you'd have to judge that yourself.

The good thing is as you have already interviewed with a similar company; you have an idea of the salary being offered and you can be a bit more aggressive in your salary negotiations.

I've had a look at that companies website and it says any experience level. However I'm not too keen on wasting a days holiday (I'd have to book off a days holiday) or going through the whole process only to find that they wouldn't be prepared to offer a decent salary.

Give them a call and ask about the position and be direct with what the position is offering; I am not aware of UK specifics but most jobs offer a base pay and then benefits/allowances based on either the role or the seniority of the person.

Ask for the total package offered - and there is no shame in asking this upfront; the interviewer will also appreciate your honesty as they don't have to go through an interview only to find out the person would have never accepted the job.

My concern is that I could add something to my covering letter, along the lines of, I couldn't go below X salary but i don't really want to give any figure invade they were prepared to pay more.

Okay, first you never want to say "go below X" or "my range is X to Y"; the reason being - what the recruiter hears is "I am willing to work for X", and that is exactly what will be offered and no more.

  • In my experience, negotiating salary is not something that plays a big part in the UK employment process. To some extent yes, and to a greater extent for senior positions (VP, SVP etc.). In the UK for anything but the smallest companies, there is likely to be a fixed salary band and companies are VERY unlikely to step outside of that band no matter who you are. – Marv Mills Jun 1 '15 at 10:40
  • @MarvMills Most dev jobs in the UK advertise a large range, often as much as £10K. You can and should negotiate within that range. – weston Jun 3 '15 at 15:23
  • @Weston It is impossible to disagree with that, though additionally in my experience on both sides of the interview desk, no matter what the range is, mysteriously, everyone always applies at the top end of the range... :) – Marv Mills Jun 3 '15 at 15:30
  • @MarvMills that is a good point! So they only have one number, then create a range below that designed to give the illusion of good negotiation skills and with the slight hope of getting a bargain. – weston Jun 3 '15 at 15:37

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