Salary Negotiations for the MBA graduate – Handle with Care!

Negotiating for a salary is always a sensitive issue. If you haggle too much, you may annoy your future employers. Research shows that recruiters need to like you in order to hire you and to give you a salary they feel you deserve. On the other hand, if you do not negotiate your salary, you will be “leaving money on the table.”. Most recruiters are prepared to negotiate salaries, however many candidates are too scared to ask.

Before you negotiate, it is useful to reflect on:

i) Should you negotiate?

ii) When and how should you negotiate?

i) In the Indian context, MBAs graduates may be freshers or laterals (MBAs with work experience). Campus recruiters generally have fixed packages for freshers, and while laterals may have to negotiate their packages. A lateral from a Tier 1 MBA school in a year when the economy is strong, obviously has more negotiating power than an MBA from a Tier 2 or Tier 3 school, so keep this in mind. Further, if you already have a job offer, you are in a much stronger position to negotiate, everyone loves a winner. Companies do not want to hire a person no-one else wants. Students often make the mistake of quitting their job before finding another and this puts them in a weak bargaining position.

Negotiate only when

– you can justify your demand through proving you have valuable skills the company needs

-you have done your homework on the company’s financial position, pay scales, incentive packages, and industry/competitors pay scales

ii) Never ever introduce the topic of salary early in the interview or in the first round of interviews. You should wait until you feel that the recruiters are interested in hiring you. It is preferable that the recruiters introduce the topic, if this does not happen, you will have to.

If you are asked the question “What salary do you expect?”

A good reply is “ I am willing to entertain a reasonable offer”

If you are offered a package that you feel is unreasonable, be prepared with facts, figures, and justifications on why you feel you deserve more. If you handle this part of the interview well, the recruiters will respect you more.

If your recruiters end the interview with a “firm” offer, and ask you whether you are willing to accept the offer, don’t ever say “NO”. Instead, say you need some time to think about it. Saying “No” right away conveys a bad impression.

Don’t ever offer ultimatums like “Give me this or else……”. No one likes a threat.


(a) A salary is much more than money, think of the entire package

(b) It is less important than your job role, the job fit, the company culture, and fulfilling your dreams.

Written by Ms. Shobhana Madhavan, Associate Prof, Amrita School of Business, Coimbatore