Salary negotiations at the end of the interview process can be tricky. They shouldn’t be, but they usually are.
The problem, I think, lies in when they happen. Usually, it’s the very last step. The candidate has met the whole team and is in love with everyone. The hiring manager is already filling that person’s name in on the Holiday Party seating chart and then bam! Everything grinds to a halt when some mentions base salary.
Whether you are the candidate or the hiring manager, salary should be among the first things to discuss. Once you think there is some skill crossover and a bit of chemistry, get money on the table.
There is no point in going through an extensive interview process only to discover that there is a $40K gap in what you want and what they have. It is crushing for both sides.
If you are in a first interview with a hiring manager or a recruiter and the subject of compensation has not come up, ask the question. Don’t just wait for it to come up later. This is especially true if you are near the top of the market or are pretty senior. Take the bull by the horns and bring it forward.
“This sounds like a very interesting role. What kind of salary range do you have?”
“I work in a large company now with a lot of perks. What kind of package does this job come with?”
If the answer is hedgy or not clear, be wary. You don’t have to run for the hills, just make sure to keep it on the list for the next conversation.
I know that money is not everything but let’s face it: If there is a big gap in base salary expectations, it can be problematic. Psychologically, we know what we are used to and what we have nurtured and developed over our careers. Taking a big haircut is not always in the cards and if it is possible, better to know if up front so we can start rationalizing the offsets.
It’s like looking at the dessert menu before you order your main course. It just makes sense.