(MoneyWatch) Discussing compensation is one of the more delicate parts of the job interview process. You might be asked what your salary requirements are, and freeze. Or you could be offered your dream job, but with a nightmare salary.
Luckily, you don't need a degree in negotiation to successfully navigate this conversation. Mostly, it means not saying things that are akin to shooting yourself in the financial foot. Here are three phrases likely to sabotage any chance of getting paid what you think you deserve:
"What does this position typically pay?"
If you give this response to the "what are your salary requirements" question, you'll likely lower their offer before it's even made. In the same way that you can attempt to fudge your number when asked how much you currently make, your future potential employer may bend the numbers to their advantage when discussing the standard salary. You could also come off as lazy. "It shows you haven't done your research," says Colette Ellis, founder of InStep Consulting. You can find this information through sites like Glassdoor.com, or through friends and colleagues in the industry.
"Yes, that sounds good."
It's called salary negotiation for a reason -- an employee's initial number is typically just a starting figure. This is important to remember, whether the number sounds lousy or fair. "Be prepared to come back with examples of your skills and value that support your worth," says Ellis. They want you, so remind them of why and they may be willing to fight for you in the form of added compensation.
"...but I'm flexible on that."
This phrase essentially negates whatever number came before it. "Don't negotiate your salary target down for the employer by saying, 'I'm willing to accept less if that's not in your budget,' " says Ellis. Instead, make your case and if they can't come closer, ask about bonuses or stock options that might be on the table. The key is doing your research, and then simply having the confidence to ask for what you want.