Few interview questions are as difficult to answer as questions about salary. Salary interview questions are important, but they are also an opportunity to completely ruin either your interview or your future earnings. Consider the risks of answering this question:
- Dollar Value Too High – If you ask for too much money, you risk turning off the employer right away. Perhaps you would have been willing to take less money if you knew the job required it, but if you answer with a salary that is too high, you will never get the opportunity.
- Dollar Value Too Low – Companies should not get discounts just because the employee did not want to hurt their job chances. If a company budgeted more money for the job than you require, it is not your responsibility to help them save money. In addition, if you ask for too low a salary, employers may think you are desperate for a job and not necessarily a worthwhile employee.
- Answering at All – Once you answer a salary question, you have immediately put a value on your abilities. The company should care about your skills first and your salary second. Once you have provided them with a number, even if it’s the perfect number for their budget and yours, you will still spend the rest of the interview tying to live up to that number.
There will be a time that you need to discuss salary with your employer. That should be saved until after the interview is over and it appears you have the position. Until then it is important that you avoid answering interview questions about salary.
How to Avoid the Answer
There are a variety of tips you can employ in order to avoid answering questions about salary. Follow these tips in order to gently explain to the employer that you are not ready to answer the question yet.
- Interview Question: How Much Are You Expecting to Make?
“I would like to learn more about the position before I answer questions about salary.” This is the best type of answer to these types of salary questions. It makes sense and it is to the point. You are telling the interviewer that you cannot make an accurate salary estimate until you know every last piece of information about the job.
- Interview Question: What Have You Made in the Past?
“All jobs have different requirements, so it is easier for me to leave discussions of my past salary out of the conversation until I know what this particular job entails.” This is a tough answer to make, but your employer should understand. Your past salary should have no basis on your current salary.
It is important that you do whatever it takes to keep this question unanswered until the end of the interview. Only then can you answer questions about salary. In the next post we will discuss tips on how to negotiate your salary with the employer.
Take Away Interview Tips
- Avoid discussing salary until the very end of the last interview.
- Answer early interview questions about salary with “I would like to know as much about this job as I can before I make a salary estimate.”
- Penelope Trunk’s blog has a great post about salary negotiating.