A former FBI hostage negotiator says there's one question you should ask when you can't get the salary you want

Job interview‘Speed English’ by Strelka Institute for Media © 2016, Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.Ask how you can get involved in projects that are critical to the company’s future.

You probably know from personal experience that companies aren’t always able to offer you the salary you want.

At some point, the hiring manager may tell you that, yes, you’d be a valuable asset, but they just can’t go any higher.

Assuming you really want the job, it’s tempting to accept their answer and leave feeling like a pushover.


There’s a more important question you should be asking than how much they can pay you, a question that can help ensure your success and happiness in your new role:

How can I be guaranteed to be involved in projects that are critical to the future of the company?

That’s according to Chris Voss, a former FBI hostage negotiator and author of the new book, “Never Split the Difference,” in which he applies insights from years of working with criminals and terrorists to everyday life.

When it comes to a salary negotiation (or any negotiation, for that matter), Voss suggested that it’s best to take a step back and think about what you’re really trying to accomplish. In this case, it’s build your career.

Asking about your role at the company — what Voss calls a “side term” of the negotiation — gives you an opportunity to do just that. Here’s what he told us:

What happens is if you’re involved in strategic projects as a part of your job, now you’re suddenly in a room with the CEO on a regular basis — and the top management of the company. And they get to see you a lot more often and they come to look at you as a reliable and a go-to person, which then plants your seeds for your success. Salary pays your bills but terms build your future.

This question has the added benefit of making you look like a team player right off the bat. Here’s Voss again:

As soon as you tell somebody you want to work on something that’s critical to the strategic future of the company, you’re telling them in a very subtle way you want to work to make their life better. And even if the answer’s “no,” they still like that that’s your approach.

In other words, by asking to be involved in big company projects, you stand out among a sea of people demanding more for themselves. Plus, you position yourself for success by showing that you’re motivated by the organisation’s mission, that you’re ready and eager to take on the most important work they have got.

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