In an interview, postpone answering the question by focusing on asking the interviewer for more details about the position and scope of responsibility. You should try to determine which goals you are responsible for, whether you are bringing in revenue, if you are doing something that is never been done before, whether you have direct reports or manage a budget and any other information that may influence compensation.
If the interviewer keeps pressing you for a number, here are a few things to consider:
☛ Similar to doing market research before writing down a salary expectation on a job application, you want to do your homework for interviews as well. In particular, look up salaries at the company you are interviewing for. To name a few, provide detailed information on salaries for either the exact position you are interviewing for or comparable positions.
☛ What is the total compensation package? Try to find this information out before giving your salary expectations. Compensation is more than salary and you may find that you would rather focus on negotiating more vacation days or a flexible work arrangement than your paycheck.
☛ Typically in an interview, you can and should provide a range instead of an exact number. But again, do not say any numbers you are not comfortable with because if the employer offers you a salary at the lowest end of your range, you do not have much to negotiate with when it comes to getting a higher salary.
☛ Do not be too stubborn or cagey at this phase of the interview process. It may communicate to the interviewer that you are too much of a hassle to be bothered with. Instead be confident but flexible until you reach the stage where an offer has been made. By then you will know what is most important to you and what you can leverage to get your ideal compensation package.
Most often, the simple reason is that employers want an easy screening device to help sort applicants and those applicants with a salary requirement too low or too high are discarded. Other times, the employer is looking to save money by hiring a job-seeker at the low end of a salary range. In either case, it is not really fair to the job-seeker. With a salary history, employers also want to see frequency and size of raises and promotions.
The most important thing you can do is delay the compensation conversation as long as humanly possible so you have time to build a rapport with your interviewers, monetize what you can do and how you can personally affect the bottom line at the company and move them from what Chapman describes as the budget state of mind to the judge it mindset.
Once you have done the research, come up with three numbers:
☛ What is the ideal dollar amount you want (and still have the recruiter take you seriously)?
☛ What dollar amount (given the going rate) is reasonable and would still make you happy?
☛ What is the lowest dollar amount you would accept?
These three numbers make up the compensation range that is in alignment with the going rate for your targeted role and that would make you happy. If you are forced to state your salary requirements upfront, use the researched number you found to be the fair market value (the same goes for an online application that demands a numeric response).
Here are a couple phrases you can use to deflect questions about your salary requirements:
☛ I am sure we can come to a good salary agreement if I am the right person for the job, so let us first agree on whether I am.
☛ I have some idea of the market but for a moment let us start with your range. What do you have budgeted for the position?
The first rule of salary negotiation is to avoid discussing numbers until the company has extended an offer. This is when you have the most power to negotiate but as any job seeker will tell you, this is no simple feat. Recruiters typically try to pull this information out of you as early as the initial phone screen, if they did not already request your salary requirements as part of the application process.
Whenever possible, do not volunteer information about your salary history or your salary expectations or requirements in your cover letter, resume or during a job interview. Information is power in job-hunting and your goal should always be to hold on to your power as long as possible by delaying discussions about salary as long as possible.
There are a number of strategies, each with its own level of risk:
provide your salary requirement. Provide the employer with what the company wants, but realize that you run a strong risk of being screened out if you are too far above or below the range the employer has in mind for the position.
Ask for a wide salary range. Even with some basic research, you should be able to determine a salary range for the position. As long as part of your range overlaps with the employer's range, you should be okay. But what if your highest amount matches their lowest amount? Yup, you will be stuck at the bottom of their pay scale. But, assuming you give a range that is acceptable to you, you should be okay. It may be better to state something like, "a salary in the mid $40's."
state that you expect competitive or fair compensation. Put the ball back in the employer's court by informing the company in your cover letter that you expect a competitive salary. The danger? If the employer doesn't offer a competitive salary -- or is a stickler for having an actual salary request -- you've eliminated yourself from being considered for the position.
Express your salary flexibility. Similar to the last strategy, simply state in your cover letter that you are flexible about salary. The danger is again not providing an actual salary request -- and that alone could eliminate you from consideration for the position.
state that you would prefer to discuss salary in an interview, but make sure to add that you don't think salary will be a problem. The danger is again not providing an actual salary request -- and that alone could eliminate you from consideration for the position.
Give your salary history. Ignore the request for a specific amount and simply show your salary history with the idea that your next job offer should be reasonably higher than your current salary. The problem here is that you have not provided the information the employer seeks, and you may be eliminated.
Ignore the salary request. Many people believe that employers have no right making a salary request so early in the process and simply ignore the request. The most likely occurrence? If you ignore the request, your application will most likely be ignored as well.