During the Interview, How Do You Answer the Salary Question?

November 2014 Candidate Enewsletter 2

In a perfect world, you would know the exact salary and benefits for the job that you are interviewing for from the start.  The employer would also know exactly what your compensation expectations are as well.  However, these things never seem to line up and this is what causes a lot of stress and worry during the interview process.  For job seekers, many of you over-think the salary question.  

Any of these thoughts sound familiar?

a.    I really like this job and don’t want to knock myself out of contention by asking for too much money.
b.    This company is huge so I am going to ask for a huge compensation package.
c.    My salary has been all over the place the last few years so I don’t know what I should be making.
d.    Man, I hope they don’t ask me the salary question.

Believe or not, the salary question is typically not the “knock out” question in an interview no matter how well or poorly you answered it during the interview.  Typically, you don’t get a job because your background, skill set or “fit” doesn’t work for the employer.  However, many job seekers use the salary question as an excuse on why they didn’t get the job.  In reality, if an employer wants you they will do what they can to hire you; even if you asked for $10,000 more than what they can pay you.


When you research the company trying to figure what the job pays, you may want to try to use sites like GlassDoor.com or Salary.com.  These sites will at least give you a range. Also, many interviews start in the human resources department.  If that is the case, ask human resources what the positon pays.  When you get your final interview with the hiring manager, they are the ones who control the budgets so they will ask the money question.

Here are some other ways to answer the “What is your salary expectation?” question:

a.    “The opportunity sounds wonderful and I would be very interested in the position.  I would certainly consider your strongest offer.”
b.    “I understand the range for this position is between $50,000 and $75,000 and that would also be my expectation.”
c.    “This would be a great opportunity for me.  While salary is important and I am sure you have a range for this job, the overall package including benefits is just as important.  It would be hard to answer this without knowing the whole package.
d.    If you know that your background and skill sets are a match for the position and you work at a similar job at another company or competitor, just be straight up. “I make $42,100 at my current company and would consider your strongest offer.”

So many companies have different salary ranges for the same job and responsibilities.  Just remember, if you are a great candidate the company will not want to lose you and will pull as many strings as they can to make you a great offer.

Whatever you do, don’t say, "I just need a job and will take anything."



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