Salary Negotiations BY Indian HR Associates - IHA

Interviewer – Well, finally so how about your salary expectations in the event of selection?
Candidate – Sure, I am flexible and open to discussions
I – Great! Then what sort of salary hike do you expect?
C – I would be fine with the going market rate or as per the Company’s policy
I – Quote some %’age or help me with a tentative ballpark figure, still.
C – Could be (at least) 60% over my current salary

We lost you there my dear prospective incumbent, Mr. Candidate!

This is a question which is invariably asked at each & every interview especially for those applying for lateral hiring at mid to senior management levels. Generally, the question is asked towards the end of the interview when the interviewer is convinced of your candidature and wants to take the same to the next level.

Yet, this is the one question that stumps most candidates. We tend to take the interview question “What are your Salary Expectations?” lightly when this question is asked during an interview.

Most candidates simply do not know how to answer this question and hence are chary of doing the same. Their usual response: “as per company policies”.

When the interviewer insists on an answer, more often than not the candidate quotes an “obscene figure”! We have come across even senior HR professionals quoting/wanting as much as a 75% increase over their current salaries!!! The inherent logic is simple: over-quote to avoid being “short-changed” by the prospective organization. But, an off-the-cuff answer like the above is more likely to damage your image and prospects of getting the job, especially when the interviewer is otherwise convinced of your candidature.

The reasons for asking the question are many:

  • To genuinely understand your commercial aspirations and match the same with what the organization has to offer;
  • To understand your logical & analytical abilities;
  • To understand your level of confidence in yourself;
  • To understand how much research, you have done regards the organization and the market-value of the position you have applied for

The best ways to answer the salary question are:

  • You first need to do thorough research and have a fair idea of the market value/salary range as per your level of experience and position within the market. Thorough research helps in setting a salary scale. Therefore, research thoroughly and understand the salary-range for the particular industry you are seeking to join. You can get some information on this through Google-Search or through websites specializing in Salary-structures of various organizations.
  • Analyze the requirements of the job you are applying for and try to find what the others at similar levels are getting in the organization. For this, you could get an insight either from the organization’s job posting published or through the Recruitment firm that sent your CV or through some employees in the organization you may know;
  • Before attending the interview, you must analyse& understand thoroughly your own current salary structure in terms of Fixed / Variables / Retiral components; tax-implications; amount received by you monthly as salary; non-quantifiable perks you may be currently getting (e.g. overseas holiday for you & family, medical insurance etc.); monetary value of ESOPs you may be entitled to;
  • To do justice, the various components in your current salary structure need to be evaluated against what is being offered by your prospective employer;
  • Normally, in today’s market conditions, organizations do offer increases of 15% – 30% over what you are currently earning. There would, of course, be exceptions to this norm e.g. if you are expecting an annual increment in your current organization which needs to be factored in if you plan to leave without waiting for your increment letter to arrive or if you are currently paid above/below market standards which need to be normalized;
  • It is important to keep in mind that money, although very important, is only one of the reasons you should be changing your current job. There could be many, many other reasons including the overall challenges the new position offers, your accelerated growth prospects in the new organization, organizational stability/brand-name; products/services dealt with; your job location; your work-life balance etc. All these “non-monetary” factors need to be kept in mind before you arrive at the magic figure of “what salary you expect in the new organization”;
  • Once you have arrived at a convincing analysis of what you deserve, don’t feel uncomfortable while putting up an answer. Do submit your detailed analysis of what you are currently getting and what & why you are expecting the “x%” increase. However, do convey to the interviewer your rationale of how you reached at the expected salary number” and the fact that you are open to aligning your expectations with what the organization has to offer;
  • Do keep in mind that in today’s highly networked world it is very easy to know what others in the organization are getting. And no professional organization would like to start you off on a wrong note by short-changing you. Getting the right employee is a long, arduous process. No organization would like to see you dis-satisfied or resign soon after you have joined due to monetary reasons;
  • You should be open to re-evaluating your salary expectations on the basis of what the new organization has to offer;
  • If you are still not satisfied, it is always best that you seek options elsewhere. The “offer decline” should be done by you in a very graceful & professional manner to avoid burning any bridges with the organization or the interviewer. You never know when your paths will cross again!


Mohit Puri
Linkedin Profile –

About Author – An alumnus and topper of BITS Pilani ( MS), & holds Management degree from LBS (PGDBM), post his Mechanical Engineering ( BE ) from Delhi and his Higher National Diploma (HND) in Electronics from Edexcel University UK. Mohit currently works as a Group HR Head with Lloyd Group at their Corporate HeadQuarters in New Delhi. Looking after the HR at the two listed companies ie LEEL (erstwhile Lloyd Electric) and Fedders Electric Engineering Ltd – along with other incorp. SBUs and group companies. He was previously heading the Core Practices of Mancer Consulting as Vice President. PuriHR Researchhow to negotiate salary,human resource,Salary negotiationsInterviewer - Well, finally so how about your salary expectations in the event of selection? Candidate - Sure, I am flexible and open to discussions I - Great! Then what sort of salary hike do you expect? C - I would be fine with the going market rate or as per the...Connecting HR - The only big thing