There is a range of frequently asked questions you’ll face during job interviews. One of the most common involves what you expect to get paid. While typical, it can be tough to answer for several reasons.
First, most people get uncomfortable talking about money. Even when asked about it in an appropriate situation – a job interview, it still feels awkward. Talking about it can, therefore, be more challenging.
In addition, you know the employer has an amount in mind they’re willing to pay in terms of salary. You want to maximize that number but aren’t sure what it is. If you state a salary that’s too low, you’re leaving money on the table. Too high, and you can scare off a hiring manager. Either way, it’s a lose-lose situation for you unless you get the exact amount they’re willing to offer right.
So what’s the best way to respond to this question when it comes your way? Here are some approaches:
Approach #1: Give a range.
Don’t provide an exact amount, which will tie you to a certain salary. Instead, signal you’re flexible and willing to negotiate by offering a range. For instance, you can state something like: “I don’t have an exact amount in mind; however, I am looking for a salary that falls between $40,000 and $50,000.” Just make sure that before your interview, you do some homework first, so you know what your skills are abilities are worth on the marketplace. This way, you’ll have research to back up your desired payment amount.
Approach #2: Tell them what you’re currently earning.
This information is easy enough for the hiring manager to find out. If they’re seriously considering hiring you, then they’ll reach out to your existing employer to verify details, such as job title, responsibilities, and salary. If you tell them what you’re earning now, you can then state that you’re obviously looking for a step up in salary. Again, you’re giving an answer while still being vague enough to retain some negotiating power.
When this is the case, you can say something along the lines of, “I’m currently earning $55,ooo. I don’t have a specific amount in mind, but I am looking for a step up in my next position.”
Approach #3: Avoid tying yourself to your existing salary.
For instance, if you’re currently underpaid, don’t state what you make; otherwise, you might land in the same situation in a future role. In this instance, say something like, “I’m just looking for the right position now and will consider any salary you think is fair.” This lets the employer know you’re willing to negotiate without tying yourself to your existing salary.
Approach #4: Turn the question around on them.
One more approach is the most direct one and returns their question with a question. Instead of giving them a specific amount, you can say, “I’m currently focused on finding the right opportunity that’s the best fit for me. I don’t have a specific amount in mind, though. Do you have a certain range of budgeted for the role?” They might not give you an answer; however, chances are they’ll stop pushing you for one too.
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