An Executive Recruiter Shared the One Question You Should Ask if You Get a Lowball Salary Offer

In a recent discussion on his YouTube channel, author and career coach Andrew LaCivita offered his advice on what to do if you receive an insultingly low salary offer during the interview process, regardless of what industry you’re working in, or what stage you’re at in your career.

First things first: don’t react. LaCivita explains that it’s common for recruiters to “socialize” an offer before formally putting it into writing. “Let them socialize to you, don’t socialize to them,” he says. “It’s always better never to assume, and get more information.”

Which leads him to the one question he always advises his clients ask during this stage of the interview process. Thank them for the offer, and then say: “I would like to understand: is the amount you offered based on how you view the position in general, or based on how you feel I specifically do and contribute, based on the skills and experience I bring to the table?”

Ultimately, you want to learn whether your prospective employer would offer that same rate to any candidate because that is how they perceive and value the role, or whether it’s specific to you. Or, even more clearly, is that what they think anyone is worth, or just what they think you are worth?

“That’s going to tell you what to do,” says LaCivita.

If their response is that this is just the flat rate that they think the position is worth, there are a few options. The first of which is to simply walk away. “If it’s truly insultingly low, you deserve more,” he says. However, if you are in a position where you need this job and you need this money, then he advises to accept it and try to negotiate on the salary, or just take it and keep looking elsewhere.

If they answer your question by saying that the offer is more reflective of you, your skills and your experience than the role itself, LaCivita recommends you stand your ground and fight. “You have to ascertain why they think what they think,” he says. “Why do you think that’s what I’m worth? Don’t start going in with your counteroffer and getting all defensive, that’s the wrong tactic.

Every single interaction for as long as you possibly can go, should be asking questions, because I don’t want you making assumptions, and you don’t know what they think until they literally say it.”

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