It goes without saying that this part of the interview process is the most nerve-wracking for job seekers.
The single most common reason I’ve heard cited for this is that candidates are afraid that negotiating will eliminate them from consideration. Though anything’s possible, this is unlikely to happen when you’re prepared. Consider the following:
Before the interview, know what you need and what you can expect: Since a fear of saying the “wrong” thing often causes anxiety, it helps to do some pre-work. While you may not find the exact dollar amount a company will offer, you can come up with a realistic range through a mix of informational interviews (with people in the industry), job ads, and online sources (i.e. GlassDoor.com, Salary.com, PayScale.com). Along with knowing the going rate for your function/industry/geographic area, determine beforehand your salary needs – the absolute lowest you can accept, that which you can realistically expect, and your dream compensation.
You may not get everything you wanted – but you probably won’t be eliminated for asking: At a recent association industry event, I decided to tackle this question head on. I asked a presenter with years of hiring experience if she had ever taken someone out of the running for a job because they negotiated salary and/or benefits. Her answer – NOT ONCE! She said that she would never eliminate a candidate for what really amounts to just asking questions.
Remember – employers expect negotiations. In fact, the same hiring manager I referenced above shared a trade secret: employers usually low-ball employees on the offer to give themselves wiggle room on salary.