The Right Way to Talk About Salary During a Job Interview

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Many people believe that the first person to specify a salary amount loses the negotiation, and while that isn’t entirely true, you could undercut your negotiating power by offering a salary requirement too early in the process. Here are some expert tips for handling the salary question during an interview.

Delay, If You Can

If the employer asks for a salary too early in the interview, you may be able to honestly tell them you don’t know enough about the position yet to give them an answer. In this case simply inform the interviewer that you’d like to wait to answer that until you know more about the position.

“I understand why you want to make sure my salary requirements match your budget, but salary is variable for me. It’s really just one of many factors that I’m considering about this opportunity, so I’d like to delay answering until I understand a few more things about the position. Can you tell me

See If They Will Answer Instead

Once you feel you understand enough about the position to provide a salary answer, trying to delay won’t work. In that case, the ideal approach would be to avoid giving them an answer by turning the question around to see if you can get an idea of how much they may be looking to offer you.  For example:

“I’ve done some homework and have a general market range in mind for this position but I understand that you may have other internal factors to consider. What can you tell me about the compensation you are offering for this position?”

If They Push, Show Them You’ve Done Your Research

At this point you’ve tried not answering the question once or twice, and the employer will respect that because they know there is some element of gamesmanship involved in this question. However, if they continue to push, refusing to answer could sour the interviewer on you as a candidate. Be ready with an answer that simply gives the typical pay for the position in your area, with the type of experience you bring to the table. Framing your answer in this context will show that you know what to expect in terms of salary, without presenting exactly what you are looking for. For example:

 “From the research that I have done it appears that a position as you have described it would typically pay in the range of $60–70,000 in this geographic area. Is that the range you had in mind?”

If You Are Being Represented, Refer the Question Back to Your Hiring Advisor

If you got this interview through a staffing company like AppleOne, or you got the interview on your own but are already working with a Hiring Advisor, leave all the salary talk to them. Having a professional negotiate your salary and benefits will make sure that you don’t end up under (or over) quoting yourself on salary, as they have a better understanding of what a company is willing to do to get a candidate they love. The hiring manager will understand this stance, and all you really have to say is:

“AppleOne has asked me to allow them to address any questions related to salary. I can tell you that they know my range and what I am looking for, and I know that they would not have arranged this interview if there were any concerns about that.”

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