Is hard negotiation during an interview taken as a bad trait?

A lot depends on the tone of the candidate and the culture of the potential employer

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Today’s job market is very much a candidate’s market. With so many opportunities waiting to be grabbed, candidates are spoilt for choice, while employers are living a nightmare. Employees are just shopping offers and trying to bag the best deal!

As candidates, many a time, we think we can negotiate and seek a better offer. Sometimes, we can’t help but wonder what the employer would think of us if we negotiate. We tend to fear being perceived as greedy, or driven only by money. Whether too much of negotiation will lead to loss of the opportunity altogether is yet another question that plagues our mind.

As per HR leaders, negotiating for one’s salary is quite common these days, and there is nothing wrong in doing so. Candidates trying to negotiate hard for a higher compensation is perceived as quite natural by employers.

“It is about how the candidate is negotiating. It is all about the tone and choice of words”

Ranjith Menon, SVP-HR, Hinduja Global Solutions

“Anyone looking for a change is definitely also looking for a raise. Negotiating for better compensation in line with one’s expectations is quite natural, and is not really seen in a negative way,” says Praveen Purohit, deputy CHRO, Vedanta Group.

However, very often, employers who think they have made the best offer to the person, when faced with a counter offer, end up perceiving that person in a certain way or may be even making a negative judgement.

Rajeev Singh, CHRO, Solara Active Pharmaceuticals, states that mature organisations keep the hiring process tight, especially when it comes to the compensation component. “Companies are very clear about the range they are going to offer to a person, as per the market standard — internal and external — as well as the capability of the person and the budget of the company,” points out Singh.

Singh believes that if the person is asking for more, then in all likelihood the employer has not done his homework well, and offered something below market standards. “In such a situation, there is nothing wrong with the candidate, but it is the employer that failed to offer a competitive salary,” shares Singh.

Though HR leaders agree that negotiating hard over salary is ‘fine,’ as long as the demands are reasonable. “There is nothing wrong in negotiating hard for one’s salary as long as the expectations are fair and reasonable,” asserts Singh.

“Anyone looking for a change is definitely also looking for a raise. Negotiating for better compensation in line with one’s expectations is quite natural, and is not really seen in a negative way”

Praveen Purohit, deputy CHRO, Vedanta Group

The term ‘reasonable’ itself is very subjective in nature. The HR leaders HRKatha spoke with could not really define the extent of raise a person should look at. It really depends on the role, industry and the paying capacity of the organisation. “I believe that people are quite smart and mature now. They know their worth,” says Purohit.

Ranjith Menon, SVP-HR, Hinduja Global Solutions, draws attention to the manner of negotiation of the person. “It is all about the tone and choice of words,” feels Menon.

There are different ways of negotiating. One is when the person is quite arrogant and speaks about the ‘many offers in hand’. He may say, “One is offering me 20 lakhs, second is offering me 25 and the third is giving me 27 lakhs, so, if you make it 30 lakhs per annum, I will join you.” As per Menon, this kind of a tone is rude.

On the other hand, a more professional way of expressing would be, “I am glad that you have given me an offer but right now I am sitting with three more offers and unfortunately they have offered me much higher than what you have at this stage. I am really keen to join you but unable to decide right now.” As per Menon, this kind of tone is more likely to be considered by the employer.

The culture of the company also plays a role in the way a candidate is perceived while negotiating. Singh says that brands such as Tata or L&T offer much more than just a competitive salary. They offer a complete positive environment of learning and growth. With such brands, if one tries to go overboard with the negotiation, things may just backfire. “While joining such big brands, compensation is just one component. There are innumerable other benefits that come with the assignment, in terms of culture, growth and learning,” points out Singh.

“There is nothing wrong in negotiating hard for one’s salary as long as the expectations are fair and reasonable”

Rajeev Singh, CHRO, Solara Active Pharmaceuticals

Now, what if we tried to negotiate and realised it was a mistake and rather unreasonable? Well, “Most often companies just stop the conversation there. In some cases, the candidates are told that they do not make the cut, and the chapter is closed,” concludes Menon.

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