Career Resources

Career Resources

The Million Dollar Answer to the Salary Question

Posted December 16, 2013 & filed under Interviewing, Salary

The Million Dollar Answer to the Salary Question

In an ideal world, questions about salary will never make their way into the first job interview. However hiring managers are inevitably going to ask the ultimate salary question: How much do you want to make? How you address it is not as simple as throwing out a number.

Is there a best answer to the salary question?

If you can’t as to avoid the topic of salary during the initial job interview, you are going to have to come up with a tactical answer to the salary question. Unfortunately, there isn’t a canned response specifically suited to answer any and all questions relating to salary. You certainly don’t want to undercut yourself and end up with a smaller salary than you deserve, but you also don’t want to knock yourself out of the running with a number that is too high. So what can be done?

Dodge first, answer later

If the hiring manager or HR representative poses the salary question early on, you do have the opportunity to dodge and defer it until the end of the interview. A proper and effective response is that you are more interested in figuring out whether or not you and the company are a great fit for each other. This will allow you to push the question of salary off until after you have demonstrated your worth.

What if they insist?

Should the deflecting the question fail and the topic of salary is pushed, it is not a good idea to deny answering it outright. Doing so will make you come off as confrontational and could frustrate the interviewer. If you are forced to be the first person to throw out a number, remember a few things:

• Do your research: Before the interview, make it a point to find out what the average salary is for someone with your job title. Keep in mind this can vary from city to city.

• Know your worth: Only you know what you need, and want, to make. The longer you have been in the industry, and the more complicated projects you have completed, the more money you can ask for.

• Be honest: Do not cheat yourself out of money by lowering your expectations of salary. In the end, you do not want to take a job where you are underpaid, and you most certainly don’t want to work for a company that is going to undercut your worth.

• You don’t have to be specific: It is perfectly acceptable to throw out a range. Just do not make the lowest end of the range anything less than you are willing to accept.

• Be confident: The only way you can really hurt yourself (besides bluntly refusing to answer the question) is to tell the hiring manager that you do not know what you are worth.

By Kevin Withers

Image courtesy of 401(K) 2013 via Flickr