Salary Talk During the Job Interview—What is the Best Way to Respond?
By Carole Martin, Interview Coach
Even though you may have gone through a phone screening that involved answering questions about salary, the subject may come again as the interviewer becomes more interested in hiring you. At this point the interviewer wants to know whether they can “afford you.” This is a very tricky part of the interview and could even break your chances of getting the job. Tread lightly and protect your information is the rule.
Here are some sample questions and answers to assist you in formulating your own answers to questions about salary during the interview. Some of the answers are stronger than others and some will fit certain situations better than others. You will want to use your own words to answer this type of question, however these examples will provide words to use that may be more affective in answering these difficult questions.
1. Q: “What are Your Salary Expectations?”
A: #1 – “I was making $60,000 at my last job, plus bonuses. I would be expecting at least that and a 15 to 20 percent increase. (This is not a good answer)
A: #2 – “I’m sure whatever you offer will be a fair amount for a person with my qualifications. Salary is not the most important factor to me. I’m looking for opportunity.” (This is a somewhat weak answer)
A: #3 – “I really need more information about the job before we start to discuss salary. I’d like to postpone that discussion until later. Maybe you could tell me what is budgeted for the position, and how your commission structure works.” (This is the best answer)
2. Q: “What Do You Expect in the Way of Salary?”
A: #1 – “Before I answer that question, I’d like to ask what you typically pay someone with my experience and education in this type of position?” (Good Answer)
A: #2 – I’m sure when the time comes and I know more about the facts of the position and how it fits into the bigger picture, we can come to a mutually agreeable figure.” (Good answer)
A: #3 – “I really need more information about the position before I can begin to discuss salary. Can you tell me the range budgeted for this position?” (Good answer)
3. Q: “What Salary Range Would You Require to Take This Job?”
A: #1 – “From the research that I have done, it appears to be in the $60–$70,000 range. Is that the range you had in mind?” (This is a good answer if they insist on a figure from you.)
A: #2 – “Based on my previous experience and education and the ‘going rate’ for this type of position, I would like to be in the mid to high 70s. Is that a range that fits with your compensation structure?” (Good answer if pushed for a figure – give an acceptable range.)
A: #3 – “I would need to know more about your salary structure and how often you review salaries as well as your entire package before I could discuss salary ranges. Could you provide me with more information before we discuss this subject?” (Good answer to push back the discussion to them.)
4. Q: “What Salary are You/Were You aking at Your Last Job?”
A: #1 – “It would be very difficult for me to compare my last salary with this position for various reasons—primarily because I don’t have enough information about your whole package. I’m sure we can discuss this subject and your entire package before an offer is made.” (Good answer)
A: #2 – “That would be like comparing two jobs that are entirely different in responsibilities and in the base and bonus structure. I would be more interested in hearing what the package you offer is, before I compare the two jobs. I hope we can postpone this subject until we both have more information to discuss salary and benefit comparisons.” (Good answer)
A: #3 – “I had an unusual situation at my last job where I took less salary to own a share of the company. I also had a bonus structure that I was receiving. I would have to look at the entire package that you offer before comparing the two jobs or salaries.” (Good answer)
5. Q: “Would You Consider Taking Less Pay Than You Made in Your Last Job?”
A: #1 – “I would really need to know more about the opportunity and your whole package before I can give you an answer to that question. You may offer extra perks that my last job may not have had—or vice versa. Basically, I need more information before I decide.” (Good answer)
A: # 2 – “While my highest career value is not money, it is important to me that I be fairly compensated for the work I do. I would be willing to listen to a fair offer based on what I bring to the position in the way of experience and education.” (Good answer)
A: #3 – “Opportunity is valuable to me. I am always willing to look at the bigger picture. I would want to be paid according to what I bring to the position, but would be willing to be somewhat flexible.” (Good answer)
You will notice that most of these examples attempt to defer the subject until you have more information and a better idea of whether this is the right job for you. When you have that information, you will be able to assess whether this is a job where you have something to offer and what the value should be. In other words, what you deserve to be paid.
Never try to negotiate anything—until there’s an offer.
About the Author
The Interview Coach, Carole Martin, is a celebrated author, job coach, and speaker on the subject of interviewing and recruiting. Carole is using her proven methods for coaching job seekers on competitive interviewing skills in technical and non-technical industries. Follow The Interview Coach on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn at http://www.interviewcoach.com/blog to learn about current workshops and seminars Carole is offering.