How to Talk About Salary Requirements During the Interview Process
Why Employers Ask About Salary
At some point during the interview process, job seekers inevitably encounter questions about salary requirements or expectations. Employers use common interview questions like, “What kind of salary do you need/expect?” not only to check for awareness of industry standards but also to make sure the monetary requirements of the applicant fall within the pay range specifically budgeted for the position. Questions about salary therefore help interviewers make quick and easy decisions about which candidates to eliminate from hiring contention. Candidates who expect or require too high of a salary often risk immediate elimination, while interviewees who express a willingness to work for less money may come across as desperate for the job or ignorant of typical pay rates for the industry. More importantly, responses to questions about salary expectations reveal how much the potential employee values her own work and contributions.
Preparing For the Question
While mainstream job-search advice traditionally encourages applicants to avoid revealing salary requirements until later in the hiring process, interviewers may ask about the subject at any time. In fact, employers sometimes use preliminary phone interviews to weed out job seekers whose salary expectations differ significantly from the budgeted pay range established by the company. Candidates must therefore remain prepared for questions about salary to arise at any point during the interview process. As a result, before participating in any interviews, job seekers should already know the typical salary or pay range for the desired position. To gather the necessary salary information, research the targeted industry to determine the current market value for workers in roles similar to the job being sought. Remember to keep location in mind, as salaries for similar jobs often vary according to the overall living standards of the specific geographic region.
Responding to the Question
After performing the necessary research, applicants must decide when and how to address interview questions regarding salary. As a general rule, job seekers should wait for the interviewer to bring up the issue of salary, which ideally would coincide with an offer of employment. Then, the prospective employee could simply cite a desired salary figure and support the answer by identifying the sources of information used during the process of researching an appropriate response. However, because many employers choose to discuss salary earlier in the hiring process, interviewees often feel pressured to disclose information which could detrimentally affect chances for employment.
To remove the pressure from the situation, refocus the direction of the interview by saying something like, “If this opportunity turns out to be the best fit for both of us, then I’m sure we can agree on a fair salary at that time.” Notice how the response tactfully avoids the topic of salary by focusing on the issue of fit instead, which helps to convey genuine interest in the job rather than the possibility of a regular paycheck. If the interviewer insists on obtaining a specific salary figure, consider countering with a limited range of acceptable pay rates that falls within typical industry standards. To ensure the adequacy of each possible salary contained in the given range, set the bottom end of the range at least 10% higher than the lowest acceptable rate of income.