What if the Interviewer Asks About Salary?

John Krautzel
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What should you do when salary requirement questions arise during a job interview? If your required salary is too high, you might blow your chance at the job. If you ask for too little, you might paint yourself as underqualified. Here are some tips for responding to salary questions during an interview.

Do Your Research

Before an interview, it's essential to determine how much someone with your education and experience should earn in the position. Sometimes, the salary range for the position is listed on the job notice. Adequate research can help you determine where you fall on that range. If the job listing doesn't include salary information, find the pay scales of the same or similar jobs within your industry, and use this as a starting point.

In addition, talk to any friends or associates you know in the field. Ask them about current salary ranges for any positions of interest. You can also research pay scales online to get a sense of what a reasonable salary request might be. The company's size, reputation and type also impact the salary you can expect. For instance, a nonprofit organization is likely to pay less than a multi-national corporation, and startups are likely to pay less than established firms.

Avoid the Topic During First Interviews

If possible, avoid questions about salary requirements during a first interview. If the topic comes up, avoid stating an actual number first. Remember one of the basic rules of negotiating: The one who states the first number often loses. You're not in the power position during an interview, so the further you can get in the interview process before mentioning your salary requirement, the better.

Let the interviewer know that you prefer to discuss salary upon receiving a job offer or during a second interview. If the interviewer insists that you provide a number, ask about the company's salary range for the position, and say that you expect your salary to fall within that range.

Be Forthright in Stating Your Salary Expectations

When an interviewer asks about salary requirements outright, be straightforward and thorough in your response. Don't stop with a number. Explain why you chose that number. You can cite the research you conducted, the responsibilities involved with the position, the market pay rate and your unique qualifications.

Answering salary requirement questions can feel awkward, so practice answering them ahead of time. You don't want to sound hesitant or unsure when discussing this topic, which is why practice is essential.

Like many job candidates, you might feel nervous when responding to salary requirement questions during a job interview. Performing adequate research beforehand can help ease your nerves. It's also important to know your worth, as this prevents you from accepting a salary that's far too low.

Photo courtesy of franky242 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the great comments. @Griffin T you are absolutely right. You should go into an interview already armed with that information. If asked, you can offer a range as long as you know that range is within the amount that the position pays and you are willing to accept. You are right in that you don't want to price yourself under or over but right within a range. Keep in mind should you offer a range - say $25,000 - $30,000, they are going to jump on it and offer you $25,000. Maybe the position would have paid $30 grand. So you have to know what you need and are willing to accept before you go into the interview. @Josh B sounds like this plan works for you. Great job. How about anyone else? Have any experience in being asked for your salary requirements during an interview?

  • Griffin T.
    Griffin T.

    I suggest that you do your research, but be honest about your expectations. What are you willing to accept? What do you think you are worth? In most big companies, the manager selects the candidate but HR negotiates the salary.
    For the best employee, most companies will try to work with a reasonable candidate. You really don't want to be hired just because you work cheap. Nor do you want to scare an employer away with extremely high requirements.
    It might be worthwhile to ask what the average salary increase for similar positions has been for the past few years. This will let you know whether you are jumping onto a moving train, or jumping into a swamp. Future increases and benefits are just as important as salary.

  • Josh B.
    Josh B.

    I work construction so I often have to answer that question. I tell them that I’m not comfortable answering that but I can tell you what I’m making now or on the previous job. Theirs always ok with that reply and usually match it. If I feel their paying more ill add a dollar or two.

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