Interview Negotiations

Fear of negotiation which you need to overcome

Typical job interview. You’re sitting in a room with a bunch of people. HR manager, technical recruiter and the lead of your future team. You’re talking about your education, past experience and your skills. They want to assess if you fit into the team by verifying your soft-skills. The way you communicate with others, how do you act if you don’t know the answer and what’s your attitude to work. Besides that they want to check what is your level of ambition by asking one of the most cliché question:

“Where would you like to be in your career five years from now?”

But let’s forget about easy questions. The most difficult part is about to happen. You know what I’m thinking about? The moment which makes most people embarrassed. The moment when they ask you how much would you like to earn. A simple, open-ended question which should be easy to answer but the reality shows it’s not. Of course you want to earn as much as you can but on the other hand what if you ask for too much? You’re aware that proposing higher amount can increase the risk of being rejected. And that’s something you don’t want to experience.

If you feel like that you’re not alone. Most people do not feel confident to negotiate their salary. According to survey [1] conducted by 49% of workers don’t negotiate job offers. This shows how afraid we are of negotiations.

It’s all about the fear

That’s the strongest human emotion. Almost half of respondents said they were always apprehensive about salary negotiations. Should you accept the first offer you get just because you’re scared of asking for more? I don’t think so!

It doesn’t matter if it’s your first job or your fifth or whether you’re a man or a woman, you should always negotiate the terms of your contract. If nothing else, you can always use the practice. You can do it just to improve this crucial communication skill – negotiation. Even if you know your chances are low, every negotiation gives you more experience and helps you become a better negotiator in the future. It’s not just the theory that makes you a perfect negotiator. It’s the practice, more so than anything else.

They want you to negotiate

People usually have negative connotations with negotiation. They tend to believe it’s rude and selfish to argue for what’s yours, something that can ruin your relations with an employer. It’s not. I recommend thinking about negotiation as a conversation which results in making an agreement. Its goal is to find the best solution that satisfies both sides.

  • 45%

    expected to negotiate

  • 49%

    accepted the first offer

Candidates fear being rejected or being perceived as greedy but the truth is that salary negotiation is a common part of a recruitment process and later, the employment. CareerBuilder survey [1] found also that 45% of employers were willing and even expected to negotiate an initial salary offer but almost half the candidates (49%) accepted the first deal they got.

That said, it’s the candidates who ruin the fun by not asking for what they want!

You need to initiate it

And what if you have a job? If you’re already an employee, you are the one who should start such a dialog. In the beginning of my career I thought it was the responsibility of a company to dole out salary raises, promotions and bonuses every year. I thought I deserved it. I also thought that promotions happened automatically. Do you think it works like that?

Not at all! I was really surprised when I realized that. The problem with that kind of thinking is that you can wait too long to get a promotion or a pay raise. You shouldn’t wait until someone promotes you or gives a huge raise. You need to make it happen for yourself. Of course everything is possible but the chances that a raise in the expected amount will happen automatically are rather low.

Negotiation makes people happy

Negotiations can make employers happy. Yes, it sounds ridiculous but social scientists proved that people aren’t happy when they instantly get what they want. They are actually more contented when their partner says “no” a couple of times before saying the final “yes”.

Imagine you asked your boss for a 5% raise and he gave it to you right away. What would your reaction be? You’d feel good and proud of yourself for a while but then you’d start to analyze it:

“What if I’d asked for 10%. My boss wasn’t negotiating with me so there might have been a chance to get an even bigger raise”.

negotiations make people happy
Negotiations can make people feel satisfied.

If you’d asked for more money and after negotiating you’d agree on 5%, you would have felt more satisfied. You would have taken a risk negotiating bravely and then you would have gotten your raise. You wouldn’t have missed an opportunity to check the boss’s limits. You would have won!


The rule of thumb is: “If you don’t ask, you don’t get”. So always try. But remember, every negotiation should end when the other person says “yes” or you run out of counteroffers. If you accept it as soon as possible, you lose a chance of improving your deal. It means you leave money on the table.

In my next article I’m going to share few tips that can improve your negotiation skills.


[1] Survey conducted by Harris Interactive© on behalf of CareerBuilder between May 14 and June 5, 2013.