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Can I fix a salary negotiation mistake before a job offer?

Q. I just made a huge mistake in a salary negotiation and am wondering if there is something I can do to fix it.

This was the first interview and I was not prepared to discuss salary, as I know it is a huge no-no. Unfortunately, the interviewer's second question was, "What is your salary expectation?" Instead of answering with the question, "Well, what is the range for the job?" I said, "Between $55,000 and 60,000, but it is negotiable." I said this before I even knew what my duties would be. I don't know what I was thinking! That is well below the average for the position in my area; the range is $60,000 to $87,000 with a median of $72,000.

Do I have to stick with what I said at the job offer, or can I begin negotiating at a higher level?

A. It is never too late to back out of an interview response. The next time you meet with the company, ask the interviewer exactly what the company is looking for. Ask about the expectations of the job, the qualifications of the ideal candidate, how many people the person will be responsible for, and the scope of responsibility.

Then, after the company has told you about the job, ask about the salary range for the position. Now that you have played your hand, try to take the offensive. Keep in mind that you also have to interview the company, so turn the tables and ask your own questions. This is the courting period in your employer and employee relationship. If you don't raise the issues now, you may never be able to reverse the outcome once you are offered the job.


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