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10 most important questions to ask while negotiating salary

Tanvi Arora
28 Oct 2022
Blob Cover Page of 10 most important questions to ask while negotiating salary

What happens when you are in front of the HR, negotiating your salary at a new company? Well, more often than not, you reply to their queries than asking a few of your own. 

It is extremely important that we feel comfortable with our compensation before accepting an offer and hence putting forth a few questions to ask during salary negotiation would hold you in good stead, even at later parts of your career.

 So, in order to make sure you get your worth, here are 10 questions to ask during salary negotiation.Are you open to discussing the salary? Or is this salary non-negotiable?

Once the hiring manager has made you the first offer, ask them if the salary is negotiable. Even if you are satisfied with their figure, there is no harm in knocking at this door. This is the first step to opening a discussion with them and getting more than your initial offer. This is a polite question, which will tell the hiring manager that you are smart and confident enough to negotiate with them. 

What was the reason behind this specific figure?

If the answer to the first question is yes, ask them for the reason. It’s a genuine question to be asked for you have the right to know as to how they arrived at that particular figure. It could be based on their salary structure or it could have been specifically tailored for you. Either way, you should know why you were offered that specific number.

When would my pay be reviewed next?

If the answer to the first question is no, ask them when you would be eligible for a performance review and a resulting hike in salary. This question reflects that you want your objectives to be clear from the very beginning and that you are comfortable in seeking challenges. Also, when you know this, you will have a clear idea about when to expect the next monetary growth in the company. 

What is the average hike given to employees in the company?

To get a fair idea of how many hikes you can expect when you are up for a review, ask the hiring manager about the average percentage of raise given to employees in the company. Make sure you ask specifically about your field since the hike rates differ from one department to another. If this average percentage sounds good, you may relax on negotiating too much for raising the salary that is offered to you. If not, you know you will have to fight for better initial pay, since you may not get a great appraisal later, on probability. 

What percentage hike did your best performers get last year/during the last appraisal?

Now, you mostly won't get a true answer to this question. The hiring manager is most likely to dodge it. However, if you do get an answer, you will know how the highest performer in the company has been rewarded. If the percentage of the hike is high, you may want to settle for a slightly low starting salary than what you bargained for. This question, while negotiating for salary, would reflect that you are aiming for the highest rewards from the very beginning and hence, for performing the best as well. Asking this question will also show your hiring manager that you are willing to give your 100 percent to the company, and are also looking to grow with the growth of the organisation. 

Is there an annual bonus you can look at?

Most companies have a bonus scheme that comes with the annual salary. Ask the hiring manager while you negotiate your salary if there is an annual bonus you can expect at the end of the financial year, or at the end of your one year with the organization. If yes, make sure you clarify when you will be eligible to receive the annual bonus. Accordingly, you can negotiate your salary amount. 

What was the average payout/bonus amount of someone at your level last year?Once again, the hiring manager may not want to disclose the company's 'internal financial' calls and dealings with you, especially since you are not yet a part of the company. However, if you get even an approximate amount here or a certain number about the percentage of salary that you can expect as a bonus, you will get a clearer idea as to how much money you can expect at the end of the year, and base your salary negotiations on that number. 

Is there a probation period for you? If yes, how long is it going to be? And can you expect a hike when you are confirmed as a full-time employee?

A very important part of most contractual agreements is the probation period or the trial run. Where the employers check how well you perform for them on various aspects, and how good a fit you are in the organisation. Most probation periods are between three months to a year. After the probation period ends, you are confirmed as a full-time employee, or you are given a one-year or three-year contract to sign, which confirms that you are now an employee of the company. So it becomes a very important question to ask while negotiating salary. Ask them if you will have a probation period. If they say yes, ask them how long would it be? While in most companies, this time period is fixed, you may want to discuss reducing the time period based on your performance. Once these points are clear, ask them if you are eligible for a hike when you are confirmed as a full-time employee. If yes, what is the hike that you can expect at that time? 

Would they be prepared to offer you a signing bonus?

You need to approach this question cautiously. Depending on the industry and your position in the company, you may want to ask the hiring manager if they are prepared to offer you a signing bonus, in order to have you on board as soon as possible. If they say no, well, it was worth a try. But if they say yes, voila! That's some extra cash for you. 

What will be my take home salary?

Most of the companies mention CTC (cost to company) as the salary figure. CTC is the total value that the company spends on an employee including perks & benefits such as free meals, company provided transport, insurance and retirement benefits. Your net salary or take home salary is calculated after deducting various perks and benefits from CTC.

What are the non-monetary perks that you can expect?

Last but not the least questions to ask while negotiating salary is about the non-monetary perks. Every company has some perks that it offers to its employees. Ask the hiring manager what can you expect in terms of non-monetary benefits. If in case the manager does not agree to raise your starting salary, you may be able to negotiate more benefits and then look at how good your overall compensation is, and whether or not the offer is worth taking up. 

A few tips for questions to ask during salary negotiation

Sometimes, it helps when we keep in mind a few pointers. These can help us chill our nerves before having the salary negotiation conversation. A few tips can always keep us prepared for whatever is thrown at us, and presenting ourselves at our strongest.

  • Always make sure the timing is right. 
  • Make sure your claims are backed up with some data. Such as how well your job role is viewed in the market and the like. 
  • Do not throw the number first. Always remember that you can negotiate your salary based on the offer you get. So, ask for the overall compensation package. 
  • Take your time in accepting the offer. There is no need to rush. 
  • You can say no, if you are not happy with what you have. After all, there are more things to negotiate than just salary. You can consider negotiating benefits as well. 

Here's a sample email for salary negotiation.

Hello [Name of the recruiter],

Thank you for your mail. Hope you are doing well. [Always thank them for the offer that was initially made]

I have been considering the position of [position name], and everything sounds good to me. However, I would like to discuss the base salary component with you.

I believe I am a good match for this position, and I would add significant value to the company [you can add the company name here if you'd like]. I have a strong technical background [talk about your skills here, not in great detail], and have built and managed teams with technical people. Moreover, I have strong communication skills, which makes me very good with clients. I have an MBA, and have successfully managed many business portfolios in the [industry name] industry over the past few years. [Here you can talk about your accomplishments, not in great detail]. I have working with [previous company] for the past four years. The number that I have in mind is [number]. 

All of these qualities contribute directly to the core components of this position, which is precisely why I am excited for the opportunity to work with [company name] as [position name]. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,


Remember, it is not essential that you ask all of the above questions at one go. A judge from the nature of the hiring manager, the situation, and the position you are considering, and accordingly ask questions to negotiate your salary. Asking questions while salary negotiations a skill which you can learn easily keeping the above-mentioned tips in mind.

Tanvi Arora

Tanvi is a Business Development Executive at Calibr. While primarily occupied with building our outbound sales funnel, she also enjoys writing about eLearning trends in the corporate world.