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I'm curious about how common it is to negotiate for requests/demands that are not necessarily directly related to salary, research, or teaching load during the job hiring process in academia.

Some potential examples that come to mind:

  1. Coverage of school athletic facility fees
  2. Parking pass / daily commute costs (e.g., bus fare)
  3. Financial assistance for relocating for job
  4. Specific holidays (e.g., lesser-known religious days)
  5. Keys to restricted areas not pertinent to job (e.g., access to music rooms for the professor that used to be an active musician)
  6. Coverage for continued learning in unrelated field (e.g., philosophy or theology courses offered elsewhere in the college).
  7. Others...

Further, is it advantageous to even negotiate for these requests? Has anyone in the SE community had success with similar requests?

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    (3) is typical. I would avoid (1) and (2), unless you have unusual travel expenses. I don't know about (4). You can probably do (6) for free, although I don't know. (5) is interesting and it might be possible to negotiate, although I wouldn't push very hard. – Anonymous Dec 9 '15 at 2:53
  • (6) is common at every institution I've seen, though the number of semester hours paid for varies. My current university will cover up to nine (!) hours a semester, and when you do that, the fees for (1) are magically paid, though probably not intentionally so. (3) is basically standard unless you already live in the same city. – user0721090601 Dec 9 '15 at 13:51
  • At some universities, there is no public transit and parking is very difficult. Negotiating for a reserved parking space can be very important. – Anonymous Physicist Dec 9 '15 at 13:53
  • With respect to your title, "interview" and "negotiation" are separate parts of the process. – Anonymous Physicist Dec 9 '15 at 13:54
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    Instead of "negotiating requests" maybe think of "asking if these are available". – GEdgar Dec 9 '15 at 15:06
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There are a lot of perks that come with being an employee of a university, so it may not be necessary to make a lot of the requests for the items you've listed above. For instance, many universities (where possible) subsidize public transportation or parking costs for their employees in an attempt to be environmentally friendly (and reduce the need for on-campus parking). Similarly, there may be programs in place that offer reduced or no tuition for "continuing education." And certainly relocation expenses are not unusual in job negotiations (I'd even argue those are standard for anything above a postdoc, and even for some postdocs, depending on the employer).

However, the more unusual your request—the key access to music practice rooms, for instance—the less likely I'd want to bring it up during job negotiations. It's just too unlikely to get anywhere, and you don't want to get off to a bad start in the process. That said, that doesn't mean you can't inquire about such things after you've accepted the offer.

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    Agreed. Don't bring up things with a trivial monetary value such as (1) and (2). You can work out access to a practice room later directly with the music department -- this is not a big deal. Continuing education is generally a given -- check the school's website. The thing to focus on in your negotiations is the relocation expenses. (But not for a postdoc position.) You certainly can ask about religious observance -- but this is something that it should be possible to work out pretty easily once you've been hired. Still, it wouldn't hurt to ask. – aparente001 Dec 9 '15 at 6:10
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    If it's a long-long-term position, ask about family tuition benefits. That's a biggie. And don't forget about retirement benefits. You won't be able to negotiate those, but definitely inform yourself about what they are with a particular employer. – aparente001 Dec 9 '15 at 6:12
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There are a few things I would keep in mind.

The first is whether the person you are negotiating with is able to give you the thing you ask for. For example, the university probably has a fixed policy on whether they charge for parking or for access to the fitness centers, and those are handled by different offices not overseen by academic deans. So negotiating an individual exception to those policies will likely be quite difficult, if the chair and dean have no control over them.

The second is whether the thing you're interested in is sufficiently minor that you can likely handle it once hired. For example, getting access to a music practice room is likely to be straightforward once you are there. Similarly, if you need to be off on certain religious holidays, you can work out a way to handle that after you are hired.

Three things that are more straightforward to negotiate (although they may not always be possible to change) are salary, startup funds, and moving expenses. For those in the sciences, I am told, laboratory space and equipment are often negotiable as well. So, for example, if you want to cover a fitness center membership, it might be easier to negotiate a small salary increase instead.

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  • Also on the religious holidays — often there are HR policies in place and available to view online that cover that so one needn't even ask – user0721090601 Dec 9 '15 at 17:26

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