Top 3 salary negotiation tactics best avoided

Posted by | September 21, 2013 | Career, Job Interviews


You’ve been shortlisted for that coveted job, and you’re on cloud nine. But you have one critical stage to cross: working out your pay package.  Tread with care – this is where it can roll, or break completely.  Here is the list of common errors candidates make at this stage, and a few tips from industry experts on what you could do to sail through.


Candidates are often clueless about company and salary structures, and walk into traps they have themselves laid. Biotech firm Biocon was once looking at hiring a highly qualified candidate from a rival pharmaceutical firm for a new level, recalls HR head, Ravi Dasgupta. Soon after the candidate was told his salary, he emailed Dasgupta saying he found out the salary on offer was less than what others at the same level were getting. Dasgupta, in turn, told him he could not possibly know anyone else’s salary as he would be the first in that grade and level. The candidate apologised, and was subsequently hired.

Expert Take: Understand the hierarchy of a company before you get down to salary talks. Grades in two firms may not be same. Sudhakar, HR head, Dabur says, “Always research the minimum – median – maximum a candidate with your experience, qualifications, achievements and industry exposure can ask for.” Kunal Banerji, ED & CEO, Absolute HR International says, “Before joining, check what the company’s performance pay was in the previous year, how much increment and bonus they paid.”


Typically, Young managers are focused on take-homes and companies on total cost. During talks, candidates forget about perks and benefits. And companies focus on getting the right talent at the best possible cost. Candidates need to compare an apple to an apple when it comes to benefits, says K Gopal, ED at Omam Consultants. For instance, if an executive gets a car as an incentive, he can ask a new employer for an updated version, but not an upgrade, which might cost much more. Companies like to defer payment and add long-term incentives into the package to make it seem bigger.

Expert Take:  Understand all components of the cost to company. Find out what was actually paid out on the variable components in the past two years. Consider the total value proposition and not only the compensation element.


Negotiation is a subtle art, and you need to get the timing right. Ask for too much, too soon, and you can ruin your case even before you’ve begun.  Dabur has come across candidates who ask for an over 100% rise in salaries, says A Sudhakar, HR head.  That’s when the HR team has to gently explain that the candidates will be included in a salary bandwidth right for their grade, and cannot jump to the upper limit straightaway. Understand what is expected of you, before you take the plunge or ask for an hike in salary.

Expert Take: Let the company make an offer first. E Balaji, CEO, Ma foi Randstad Wait until late in the interview before negotiating a salary.  This will give you more leverage since the number of candidates will be smaller and the firm will more than likely be convinced of you.

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One Response to “Top 3 salary negotiation tactics best avoided”

  1. Comment made by Ram Kapoor on Jan 14th 2014 at 8:32 pm: Reply

    The post is written in very a good manner and it entails much useful information for me.

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