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Strange Behavior During Salary Negotiations

Strange Behavior During Salary Negotiations

Alison Green | Ask A Manager

A reader writes:

I have a question about something I ran into in a previous job than the one I am in now:

I had an interview for a job and returned home afterward. Only about two hours later, the HR manager called me and asked if I could come back to the office. It wasn’t until I drove back to their office that same day, that they then offered me the job. Then things got extremely weird and uncomfortable.

They brought out papers with their offer on it and I politely asked if we could discuss it. I was in a room with the HR manager and my future boss. I brought up extremely valid points to renegotiate the salary. Then everything took a turn. They justified such a small salary by saying that I lived at home with my parents. (Though true, this seems completely irrelevant to me and there was no way that they could know that except for my age at the time – 22 and out of college. I lived at home with one parent until I could find another place and I still paid rent, utilities, etc.) Then they justified such a small salary by saying that I was on my parents’ health insurance. (This was completely untrue. I was not on anyone’s insurance except my own which I paid for.) I politely corrected these misconceptions but they didn’t really seem to care. It was as if they had made up a story in their heads about who I was and what they owed me based on that.

As far as asking for a slightly larger salary, one of them finally said, “Well, when I was right out of college, I made less than $18,000 per year at my first job, lived with my parents and lived off of credit cards for the first two years.” I didn’t see at all how this story was related to me, especially since he graduated from college in the eighties. This was my first time negotiating a salary and I truly needed a job, so I accepted their offer of just $1,000 more on the salary. Needless to say, this was a horrible experience and I started the job with a very, very bad taste in my mouth.

I would really like to know what your take is on all of this and what advice you have for future negotiations. Especially:

- Is it odd for an employer to interview you and call you to return to the office that very same day? They didn’t call, offer it to me and let me think about it. They only asked if I could come by, put me in a room and made their offer. - Is it odd that they offered me the job in person and not on the phone? - How do you handle such inappropriate comments and assumptions during a negotiation? - Was any of this behavior normal and I should know this now and accept it so that I don’t expect better treatment in future negotiations?

I realize now that if they were asking things like that, they probably were a company that I didn’t want to work for. I really needed a job, though. I have since left and it was truly a horrible job with a very corrupt company. The job itself was very impressive but I only lasted five months in that atmosphere. It was a toxic environment.

I am now in a great job with wonderful people. I would just like some help knowing what’s right/wrong in negotiating a salary and accepting a job offer. I feel like all of this was not normal but perhaps it’s more common than I think.

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