How to Negotiate Salary in Engineering Job Interviews

Nader Mowlaee

How confident are you when negotiating your salary in Engineering job interviews?

Some of you may already have the knowledge, experience, and confidence but many engineers lack the self-assurance of negotiating their salary in engineering job interviews. For those of you who lack the confidence, here’s some help for you.

How to Negotiate Salary in Engineering Job Interviews

[Image Source Adapted from Pixabay]

Below, I will talk about why you should negotiate at engineering job interviews and how you must do it, if you want to come out of the negotiation as the winner, getting what you want, getting what you deserve.

Negotiation means asking for more money, right? WRONG!

You can think of negotiation as an agreement, and never as an argument. Remember that before coming to an agreement at engineering job interviews, you need to talk first, ask a question and listen carefully to the response. The discussion can happen between two or more people. In this case, we are looking at an agreement between you and the employer or hiring manager(s).

Negotiations occur almost every single day of our personal and professional life. You can even think of negotiation as decision making. You are given situations to face, and you decide how you live them. It can be like choosing one thing from many options. You give options, and someone chooses from those options. Alternatively, someone gives you options, and you do the choosing.

In great negotiations, though, you do not just choose something out of many options. You choose one and then request for “add-ons” at a fair exchange value or with something in return that the other party cannot resist.

There are varying opinions about whether negotiation is an art and not science. There are also arguments that negotiation is both art and science, as in this article where Michael Ambühl, a professor at ETH Zurich, discusses how he is aiming to use ‘engineering’ to improve negotiating techniques.

Regardless of which you believe, understanding what negotiation is and how you can develop that skill is vital to your career. I personally think of negotiation as I think of Persuasion, meaning to get the other person to do what I want them to do.

What you must do, to become a strong negotiator, is to develop influence as an engineer.

Why is it important to Always negotiate in engineering job interviews?

First of all, when you negotiate, you have a better chance of getting paid what you need and want. You also get paid for your value, not just your time. Not negotiating your salary can lead to being underpaid. That is bad for your bank account, your health, and your job.

You will lose your authority and your influence, and along with that, you lose more money than your first offered salary if you do not start negotiating, now. According to a report, about You could lose up to $1 million if you do not negotiate your salary.

If you have had a former job, you probably know by now that your previous salary had an effect on your present salary. This means that whatever your rate today at your current job will determine how much you will get paid for in your next job.

If you want to get paid right and fair based on your skills, education, workload, and your overall value, then start negotiating. Don’t plan on lying to the interviewer about your current salary, because they will find out the truth when they speak with your references (maybe that is why you never heard back from that recruiter!)

Don’t try to fool anyone, cause you are just fooling yourself. Instead be courageous and take your career seriously to invest some time to learn how to negotiate. There are training courses you can take and services you can acquire. Choose what’s best suited for you.

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Is this why you are scared to negotiate your salary?

You are probably afraid to negotiate your salary because you do not think you can do it; which is most likely because you’ve never done it before; or possibly because you’re so desperate about actually getting the job that you “don’t wanna risk it.” Or maybe you are just chicken!

I am joking, but seriously, saying I am not confident or I do not know how to do it is not a good enough reason for choosing not to negotiate your true value.

• What will happen when the end of the year comes and you do not have enough money left in the bank to buy your kids the Christmas Gifts they really want?

• What happens when there’s an unexpected accident, and you have to take care of your parent’s medical expenses?

Perhaps you are scared there will be follow up questions you would not be able to answer. Of course, there will be more questions. Any negotiation is a two-way conversation. Moreover, you can fully predict, plan and prepare the right answers. The answers that will win you the negotiation. The only question that remains now is – Will you prepare and get ready for a negotiation?

Since 2010 when I started recruiting and coaching engineers, I have interviewed 1000s of engineers. So quite frankly I know that communication skills may not be one of our strongest skills (and don’t forget I am an engineer too, and I did not even speak English till I was 18 years old when I moved to Canada). However, that is not a good enough excuse neither.

Honestly, guys, I know exactly what kills your confidence?

1. It's the feeling that you are not good enough as the others.
2. It's the feeling that the other candidates may not negotiate so why would you?
3. Or it's the feeling that, you may sound greedy when you negotiate for a higher salary so they might not want to hire you after all.

However, the biggest thing that makes salary negotiation impossible is when you think you are lucky to have been given a job offer compared to others and you are just dying to accept any job you are given. And the moment you start negotiating, you might lose that “luck”!

C’mon now that’s BS. Don’t give up on yourself. You can do it, and you deserve it. Get your act together and go learn how to negotiate; and then practice, practice, practice.

Overcoming your fear of salary negotiating in 2 easy steps

So how do you overcome those fears? How do you learn to embrace negotiation as part of all engineering job interviews?

1. It all starts with “thinking” and “feeling” fear, both in your mind and your emotion. Did you know that fear is a growth indicator? Regardless, to overcome your fear of negotiation, you must first re-wire your mindset and re-configure your emotions. How do you do that?

A. Learn everything about your field of work, and quantify how your skills directly add value to the business you are considering to work for. For example, if it is Electrical Engineering, you know that you have your Electrical Engineering degree and you have effectively learned the fundamentals of how to perform your job as an Electrical Designer. Look back throughout your career or university projects to evaluate the work you did and the results you created. Here’s a tip: Networking will help boost your confidence.

“Let us never negotiate our of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.”, JFK

Keep reading about and researching the employer you are interviewing with and learn everything you can about the market they are in. Know who their competitors are – there may be changes in systems and processes that you can prepare for and be ahead of, for example, a new software that is set to be launched in the next three months.

If you have a particular company in mind (a competitor to the business you are going to start salary negotiations with), learn more about them and find out all that makes that company unique or strong. Then identify everything that makes that company ordinary or weak – Make a list of who their customers are, and their latest activities or innovations.

When you go into your final engineering job interviews (the negotiation stage) be prepared and take all your notes and findings with you. The last interview is where you are ought to present this information, not sooner, and not later. This information Package is your leverage for successfully negotiating a salary bump.

Personally, I have coached a software engineer who got a $30K increase in his salary – going from $90K to $120K.

B. Ask a mentor to help you. To find a suitable career coach or mentor, you need to consider their background. Have they worked as an Engineer before? Have they coached or mentored engineers? Can they relate to industry and company terms & conditions, though they may vary from one company to another or one industry to another one.

Have they experienced the fear of negotiation? If yes, then they will understand where you are coming from, and you have found yourself a personal teacher on the art of negotiation at engineering job interviews! If you do not know your own value, don’t expect someone else to calculate it for you. Employers primarily focus on how they can save their own money by offering you a lesser salary. Don’t expect them to be on your side during the salary negotiation in engineering job interviews. You need to know what you want before entering the salary negotiation and a career coach or mentor can be the differentiator.

C. Create a goal for yourself. If you know you need to get somewhere, you will make plans on how to get there. If making more money is important to you, you will find a way to negotiate what you are worth. And if it is not so important to you, well I guess you will just find an excuse to accept whatever’s being offered to you.

But if that is something on your mind, then know that without a plan or a goal, your mind will be boxed up to thinking you are comfortable with whatever comes your way. When you have a plan and a goal, you will be compelled to act in order to get to that goal. Your mindset will change from fearful to fearless because to get to your goal you need to be driven and motivated. When you are driven and motivated, you become fearless.

2. Learn how to negotiate. If you need to read an entire book about negotiation skills, then do so. If you are not fond of reading, then you should learn to embrace learning. Instead of spending hours on Facebook, read a book that will develop you professionally and will result in making more money in your next job.

There’s nothing wrong though with being on Facebook or LinkedIn all day if you are using these social platforms to develop new relationships and start new conversations. It is just that if you want to shift your mindset towards negotiating a higher salary successfully, you need something more direct and informative; something that will lead you to accomplish your goal of becoming a better salary negotiator.

Here’s how you negotiate your salary in engineering job interviews

Now that you understand a few things about negotiation, why you need to start negotiating your salary, what makes you scared at negotiating, and how you can change your mindset to embrace negotiation, let’s dive into how you negotiate salary in Engineering Job Interviews.

1. Use the Noel Smith-Wenkle Salary Negotiation Method

The main aim of this method is to stall the mention of actual figures when asked about how much you want to get paid. This method advises that when asked about how much you want to get paid, you say something similar to, “I will consider any reasonable price you can offer” rather than “I will take $___ as fair pay.” No matter how many times they ask or how many times they change the same question, never offer an actual figure.

2. Try the Jack Chapman Salary Negotiation Method

The Jack Chapman Salary Negotiation Method also advises not accepting a salary discussion until you are offered the job. Clearly because if you have not been offered the job yet and you start negotiating, once the hiring manager learns that your price is high, you can be out of their short list.

This method is also similar to Noel Smith-Wenkle’s method. Your aim is to let the hiring manager give the first offer/figure – not you.

3. Use my own personal method – I call it: Always Be Prepared & In control.

Less technical than the first two methods, preparedness and control are the keys to successful negotiation. Remember that negotiation is a give-and-take process but being in control is the only way to come out the winner. So you may use methods one and two, but they cannot be effective without preparation. If the other person is more experienced and skilled at negotiating tactics, or if they use a scarcity technique or a bluff on you, then you might just crash in a second and accept his low offer right away.

So be prepared by doing your research on websites such as Glassdoor Salaries or LinkedIn Salary. Don’t be cheap and subscribe to their paid or premium services so you can get all the details and information that’s available.

Also, make sure to speak with people who work in that company right now as they are your best source of information. How do you get to speak with them? Well, you should have been networking with them from before you approached that company and decided to apply for a job there. You should be reaching out to their staff proactively and start a conversation with them – make friends.

Knowledge is power, and power practiced correctly will give you control, which should use that to your advantage. If being in control scares you, perhaps it is a good idea to practice this salary negotiation exercise with someone who’s unbiased and can give you constructive criticism as well as being direct and ruthless with you while negotiating to land on a salary amount that represents a win/win situation. Connect with me on LinkedIn and I’ll help you practice your negotiation skills.

SEE ALSO: Top 3 Jobs for Highest Mechanical Engineer Salary

[Featured Image Source: Pixabay]

About The Contributing Author:

Nader Mowlaee is an Electronics Engineer, Engineering Career Coach and Recruiter who's inspired by Motivating Confidence in Engineers and helping them reach their career goals. Engineers LOVE working with Nader because he knows exactly what it takes to match job seekers with hiring managers & open jobs instantly. Reach out and connect with him on Facebook if you want learn the secrets to negotiating what you're worth in engineering job interviews.

Engineering Job Interviews

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