Job Interview Question: What Are Your Salary Requirements?

It’s the point during every interview process that’s met with held breath and an inevitable sense of dread.  No, we’re not talking about your background check and the possibility for uncovering those host of parking tickets from a few years back.  When it comes to interview question induced stress, no topic quite induces as much anxiety as when it comes time to talk salary.

Whether it’s with a recruiter, hiring manager, or even our fellow co-workers, talking about your salary has a curious taboo quality in corporate America.  In the interview room, however, it’s an inevitable part of factoring in a candidate’s qualifications and what they’ll cost the company’s bottom line should they be hired.  Candidates should never broach the subject on their own, but do need to be prepared to address salary requirements as they will certainly be asked towards the closing stages of any interview process.  With that in mind, keep reading for our guide on how to address the job interview question: “what are your salary requirements?”

Do Your Homework

Whether in the classroom or interview room, the best piece of advice given to candidates involves doing their homework on all aspects of the position they may be applying for.  To prepare to answer the salary requirements question, start by researching the average salaries of the job title you may be after. There are numerous websites out there that provide laser beam focus on just this topic.  Payscale.com, salary.com, and Simply Hired’ssalary tool are just a few of our favorite salary analyzers.  Armed with this information you’ll be better equipped to provide salary numbers that fit industry norms for your role.

Tell the Truth

While certain states have recently outlawed specifically asking candidates to provide their current salary number, this isn’t true across the board.  Unless you’re in one of the handful of exceptions, be prepared to be asked about your current salary as a benchmark for helping set reasonable expectations for a promotion or match.

Whatever you do, avoid the temptation to pad your numbers with your answer.  Checking current salary is often one of the last items an employer will follow up on before making an offer.  Feel free to include items such as retirement and bonus in your figures to the potential employer, but list them out as such.  Also, if your previous company was underpaying you, feel free to add in details such as the compensation rate would below market value.  Keep things on the up and up and avoid the unfortunate circumstance of your offer being rescinded based on a falsehood over salary numbers.

Don’t Sell Yourself Short

Sure, you may be excited about the opportunities a new position has to offer.  You may even know that there were numerous qualified candidates and that the market is highly competitive.  Unless you can see the upsides (financial or otherwise) however, avoid lowballing your salary number as an attempt to land the gig.  Candidates who sell themselves short in the compensation game will often have less long-term satisfaction with their position. This can lead to feeling undervalued or appreciated and can create resentment which will affect performance or see you searching for a new job sooner than you’d prefer.

If you’re a strong candidate, ask the employer for what you feel you’re worth.  Absent unusual circumstances such as a tangible opportunity for future advancement or other fulfillment in your professional life, don’t sell your salary expectation short.  Even if you miss out on an opportunity or two, in the long run, you’ll find a better fit with someone who values your skills as much as you do.

Negotiate

Last but not least on our list of advice for answering the salary requirements question, if an employer comes back in a range that isn’t where you wanted to be, know that the initial number isn’t always set in stone.  Instead of reluctantly turning the job down or accepting a salary that doesn’t make the bills, try asking if there is any room for improvement. If the conversation is respectful, employers will often be open to providing additional compensation.

The trick to any salary negotiation is to enter with caution and professionalism.  Lay out your thought process for asking for additional wiggle room. If an increase in salary isn’t available, see if there are other compensation forms such as guaranteed bonuses, a sign on bonus, or guaranteed annual raise.  If you’re a strong candidate, employers will often find the room to make your number work.

While there are many tactics out there for answering questions about salary requirements, remember that at the end of the day you need to be happy and fulfilled in your position or no money in the world will be enough to make up for your satisfaction.  Keep negotiations and conversations about salary professional and reasonable, and use plenty of facts to back up your request. Follow the above guidance and you’ll be well on your way to acing the dreaded salary requirements question and moving on towards accepting that offer for a dream position.

Article Updated from the Original on May 7, 2018