How to Negotiate Salary: Questions, Answers and Scripts

Posted April 7, 2014 by Sally Calloway in Career Moves

Just the word “negotiate” can ignite a bevy of nerves. You might think “If I am offered a job, do I dare even try to ask for more money in this employment market?” Fear not, my job seeker friends. Negotiating does not have to be a scary process. If done strategically, you can negotiate a salary and benefits package that match your value and the market rate despite the economic downturn. You must be prepared, however, and equipped with reliable, timely information that can back up your value and expectations.

To gain negotiation power and ease your fear, research your personalized talent market value, and leverage this information when it  comes time to talk money.

Free resources to help you find out this information are Glassdoor, Salary, and Payscale. Filling in the information may seem tedious, but I have seen it pay off in the long run, literally.

I have coached thousands of fearful job seekers helping them to find jobs, and win offers. Those that ended up getting paid more than they expected prepared by researching and practicing what to say.

Here are common salary negotiation questions and answers, and proven effective scripts to consider:

Q: When is it appropriate to discuss salary or benefits?

A: It is recommended that you avoid bringing up pay until you have been offered the job. Win the offer first so that it does not look as though salary is your main focus. Keep the interviewer’s focus on what you know about the company, why you want to work for them, what you can do for the business, and why you are the best candidate for the job. When salary is discussed too early, and your amount does not align with the interviewer’s, they may become more focused on what you want, rather than what you have to offer.

Q: What should I say when I am asked what my salary expectations are?

A: If you have not yet been offered the position try saying:

Script: (Unemployed and interviewing) “In my research I have found that the market value for this position type, in this area, is (give a range based on your research, ex: $45-$60K per year). May we first discuss how I can contribute to the company, and continue to discuss salary in more detail if I am offered the job?”

If you provide a specific amount like $45K for instance, and the prospective employer has a budget of $60K, you might lose out on $15K per year. Alternatively, if you give a number that is higher than their budget, you may not be offered a second interview. The goal of the first interview is to land a second interview which means you are closer to an offer and the chance to negotiate stronger once the ball is in your court.

If you are currently employed and interviewing, the prospective employer is likely to ask you in the first interview what your salary expectations are so that time is not wasted on a second interview if your amounts do not align. Again, you want to be prepared to provide a range and be able to back it up with the value you offer. You might answer the salary expectation question by stating something like:

Script: (Employed and Interviewing) “My current salary is reflective of the value I offer to the company, and I have worked hard to prove myself. I am eager for the opportunity to do the same for your company. In my research I have found that with my experience, and for this position type, in this area, the average salary range is (ex: $45K-$60K). May we first discuss how I can contribute to the company, and continue to discuss salary in more detail if I am offered the job?”

Employed or unemployed, the key is to impress the heck out of the interviewer in the first interview so that you land a second interview and ultimately an offer.

Q: What if I am offered the position and salary has yet to be discussed?

A: Script: “I am thrilled that I have been offered the position. Thank you very much. Can you please provide more details on the salary and benefits package before I accept? I would also appreciate a day or two to weigh my options.”

If a company presses you to accept the job and the salary amount right then and there on the spot, it is usually not a good sign. If the interviewer is eager to bring you aboard, he/she should give you time to think it over so that you can make an informed decision. Come up with a mutually beneficial timeframe as to when the final decision will be made. Consider ironing out all of the details and dimensions of the offer before you officially accept. Ask for the offer details in writing before you accept. Take care not to come off as pushy or suspicious. If you are feeling suspicious, you may not want to accept that job. Pay attention to, and trust your instincts.

Q: What is the best way to counter-offer?

A: If the offer is below market value, politely point out the facts. Try saying:

Script: “I am very excited to work here, and am confident that I will add value. I appreciate the offer at $45K, but was expecting to be in the $60K range based on my experience, drive, and performance. Will you consider a salary of $60K for this position?”

If they will not budge, do not give up. Stand your ground and consider saying:

Script: “I understand where you are coming from, and just want to reiterate my enthusiasm for the position and working with you and the team. I think my skills, experience and education are perfectly suited for this position, and are worth $60K.”

Remain silent and wait for them to speak the next words.

Other tips for negotiating a job offer:

  • Be humble and appreciative.
  • Have realistic expectations.
  • Be confident but not overly aggressive or pushy.
  • Always thank the company for the offer, even if you do not accept.
  • If you employ your best negotiations strategies and they will not budge on salary amount, consider negotiating other terms like additional paid time off, or a sign on bonus where appropriate.

Become a strong negotiator through research, the ability to sell your value and practice. Do not be afraid to ask for what you are worth.

Do you have questions about your unique job search situation? I would like to help. You may reach out to me directly for free job-winning tips, tools and resources via email at

About the Author

Sally Calloway

Sally Calloway is a Career Coach and an Expert Resume Writer known for landing an interview and getting an offer for every position she's applied for. Her passion for career development began back in college when her resume stood out among thousands of applicants landing her an interview to intern for "The Late Show With David Letterman". Bombing the interview ignited her pursuit to help others achieve their career success. Sally coach's job seekers and career changers of all levels, developing a competitive personal brand that resonates with their target audience through various communication platforms; social media profiles, resumes, job applications, job interviews. From college students to C-level executives, Coach Sally provides expertise in communicating a unique value proposition so that even passive career success seekers can stand out, land the job and get promoted.

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