Speaking About Salary During an Interview

This has to be one of the most asked about topics of the interview process; when is the right time to speak about salary or if they ask about salary how should I answer? Neither side wants to waste time with the interview process if their salary expectations are too far off target. But speaking about salary expectations too soon can blow your chances of getting the job offer before you had the opportunity to sell your value to the company; even worse you can sell yourself short with a lower salary offer than you could have received. Even if the interview process is going great, and you feel confident and ask questions like; “what does this position pay?” or “what type of raises can I expect?”; When you ask these questions too soon or in the wrong tone/manner you just stepped in interview quicksand, which will be hard to climb out of.

When is the right time to speak about salary since it is a key factor for both parties; there are different views on this, and they all make sense; depending on the position, company and salary you might need to take different approaches for different situations. Someone who has been unemployed for a while might take a different approach than someone looking to make a move between companies. The key is to do as much research as possible before any interview using networking and the internet on industry salary ranges for your position in your current market, along with the company’s compensation package and career advancement opportunities within the company.

The key time to speak about salary is when you know they want to hire you and you want to work for them, this normally happens after the 2nd face to face interview, depending on the hiring structure of the company. Hopefully, with your professional written resume and an excellent interview process, you have shown them how much value you can bring to the table.

What if they ask me about Salary First?

If your interviewer asks you about salary in the first meeting, try turning the tables by asking what the salary range is for the position you’re interviewing for, you would be surprised how many will share this information with you. There are ways of answering the question without giving a figure, saying the right words politely should be respected by the interviewer.

  • I’m sure we can come to an agreement on the right compensation if the position represents a good fit for us both, can we revisit this question further into the interview process?
  • I would like to be compensated fairly for someone with my experience and value that I will bring to your company.
  • My salary requirements are flexible, but I do have in-depth experience in this field that adds value to my candidacy.
  • Until I understand more about the scope of the job and other components of the compensation package like benefits, it’s not possible for me to quote a number.
  • Money is important to me, but not the only factor; if you don’t mind can we revisit this question down the road after we discuss more facts about me, your company and the position.
  • Well, I would expect a salary that is in line with the level and responsibilities of the position and my experience, what is the starting salary for the position.

Sometimes it may be difficult to skirt the salary question especially when it comes to 3rd party recruiters. Even with recruiters you can ask them what the salary range or budget is set for the position, they should know since they get paid a percentage of the hiring salary, and it’s to their benefit to get you the best salary.

Today many online applications require you to enter your salary requirements and/or salary history before they would even accept your application and resume, and many ask for a specific dollar amount not leaving the ability to enter a range. Also during a face to face interview, the interviewer should have some type of job application where the same information was asked to be completed. If you are physically completing a job application, a good suggestion to follow is to leave your last job’s salary blank and under required salary entering “negotiable”.

Your salaries’ expectations need to match your level of experience for the position and should be respectfully above or at your current or last salary, but be careful not to add too much to out-price yourself and don’t low-ball yourself. But never lie about your salary history as you might be asked to provide your last W2 form.

Researching Salaries

It’s important that you research current salaries for your position; there are a few methods of accomplishing this. Along with your salary history, you should network with contacts you trust to seek out what information they can share on current salaries for your goals. The internet also gives you tools to help determine salaries and these websites should take into consideration your; years of experience, education, geographic location, and skills. Below are a few sites that can assist you, but remember this is not an exact science and you can be worth more or less, but they give good guidelines.

Cost of living research


It’s not just salary that counts

Another reason you don’t want to answer the salary question right off the bat is that you might be gaining or losing other Benefits/Perks which affects your bottom line.

Some other Benefits/Perks that need to be considered

  • 401(k)
  • Life Insurance/Disability
  • 401(a)
  • Malpractice / Liability Insurance
  • 403(b)
  • Private Medical Insurance (PMI)
  • Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)
  • Paid Holidays / Vacation Time
  • Company Pension Plan
  • Paid Sick Leave
  • Defined Benefit (DB) Retirement Plan
  • Paid Sabbatical
  • Defined Contribution (DC) Retirement Plan
  • Stock Options
  • Retirement packages
  • Stock Purchase Plan
  • Flex-Time / Flexible Schedule
  • Room and Board
  • Optional Telecommute / Work from Home
  • Relocation Expenses
  • Cell Phone
  • Company Car / Automobile
  • Casual Dress/Atmosphere
  • Supplemental Maternity Leave
  • Day Care
  • Supplemental Paternity Leave
  • Gym / Health Club / Fitness Membership
  • Education/Training/Tuition/Certification Reimbursement