ASK HR: Is there a strategy I should follow when negotiating pay?

Thursday May 23 2019

There is a misconception that large organisations have better remuneration. PHOTO | FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP


Q What reply should an interviewee give when asked how much he or she would want to be paid during an interview? If not asked, is one allowed to ask the interviewer the question?


What industry does your prospective employer belong to? Some industries pay better than others, so this is an important consideration to make while starting what you would like to get paid.

There is a misconception that large organisations have better remuneration, which is further from the truth because there are many medium-sized companies that pay better depending on the sector and how lucrative the service or products they offer are.

You should also research on how much your prospective employer pays employees on the level you aspire to join.

This information, however, may not be easily accessible unless you have acquaintances in the organisation.


Before you attend the interview, calculate the total remuneration that you currently earn and convert the benefits into cash.

This will give you your current total compensation. Ideally, when you change jobs on a lateral basis, you should aspire to increase your pay by 30 percent especially if you don’t lose any benefits.

This percentage can be higher especially if you are going for a promotion or your prospective employer does not have the benefits you previously enjoyed.

When you go for the interview, arrive early and survey the parking area and the surrounding.

Display of opulence can sometimes give you an indication of how well the company’s employees are paid.

To answer your question, indicate that you would prefer salary discussions to happen after you appreciate the benefits structure.

Sometimes the panel might insist on a figure, in spite of this, always give a higher figure compared to your current total compensation inclusive of benefit. In all salary discussions always say something like, “This figure is not cast in stone, it is negotiable, so I will be willing to discuss your offer once I fully understand the benefits attached to the role.”

In case the issue of money does not come up, don’t bring it up during the interview since it might seem as if you are only after the money.

Focus on getting the opportunity first. Increasingly, employers are structuring their benefits to suit the different generations in the workplace.

To the millennials, retirement and medical benefit may not be attractive, however, to the older generation these are very important, they signal that the employer cares.

Word of caution - don’t rush for a higher salary before considering the benefits.