Responding to questions about your salary expectations can be awkward, especially if it's your first job interview in a while or you're transitioning to a new career. Take the stress out of the situation by knowing what to say—and doing the homework and positioning yourself to back up your demands.
Avoiding The Conversation
The goal of a job interview is to show the employer you're the best candidate for the position—not to find out what they'll pay you. So, try to postpone talking money until they're ready to make you an offer.
Here are some sample responses that can help you avoid stating a salary figure. Practice your answer so you can say it naturally and comfortably.
- "I'd like to find out if I'm the right person for this position. If I'm a good fit, I'm sure salary won't be an issue."
- "I'm sure you pay a competitive wage so it won't be an issue if I'm right for the job."
- "My salary is negotiable based upon the requirements of the position and the overall compensation package, including benefits."
- "What range have you budgeted for this position?"
That last one is key. Employers have a budgeted range for the position. If you know what it is, you can be sure the number you suggest is reasonable.
Finding Your Number
Before passing along any salary numbers, take the following three steps. Once you've done these, you'll be ready to get what you deserve.
- Get the official job description. That way, you'll know exactly what your responsibilities with the company will be.
- Request the salary range for the position. If this didn't come up in the interview, bring it up now. Knowing these numbers will give a feel for how the company values the position (note: this may or may not be available).
- Do some online research. Now that you have the job description and price range, see how they stack up to what's in the market. Look into the industry and the geographic location to see how much the job should be worth.
If you're still not sure—or feel pressured to share salary information before you're ready—try to quote a wide range rather than a specific figure. Base your quote on facts from your salary research or what you know about the position's pay range.
If you switch careers or move to a different city, you may transition to a lower salary than you've received before. This could raise a red flag to a hiring manager, who might wonder whether you'll be willing to stick with a job at a lower pay scale.
Reassure the manager that you've done your homework, understand the typical salary range for a position of this type, and are committed wholeheartedly to your new career choice. Convey your enthusiasm for this exciting new direction in your life, and reiterate what makes you the best candidate for the job.