How to Talk about Salaries during a Job Interview - Undergrad Success

How to Talk about Salaries during a Job Interview

How to Talk about Salaries during a Job Interview

One of the most important discussions that you can have when being interviewed is about salaries. Salaries are one of the most important (if not the most important) consideration for a lot of applicants. However, talking about it during a job interview can also quickly derail your application if you aren’t careful.

There are two kinds of salary questions and both are often asked during an interview:

  1. What is your expected salary?
  2. What is your current salary?

Before you go to your interview, it’s a good idea to prepare for these questions.

Why are These Questions Important?

A recruiter or hiring manager can use the salary questions to gauge how much leeway they have when negotiating salaries. However, there are also recruiters who use the salary questions to filter applicants and see if they can afford your expected salary. If you give an exact value of how much you think you should be paid, then it is quite easy for recruiters to tell whether you’re pricing yourself too high or too low.

The question about your current salary is also troublesome. It can be used as a basis for their starting offer, which can put you at a disadvantage. It is also quite possible that you may want to state it lower than what you actually earned just to move the process to the next stage. Or state it higher so that the employer will have an incorrect expectation. Lying about your current salary is never recommended.

There are also recruiters who think your current or latest salary is a good indication of your worth to their company. Any company that does this instead of valuing you for your qualifications will not be a good place to work for.

Tips for Talking about Salaries

Now that you know the importance of these questions, you can easily prepare yourself in answering them. Here are some tips that can help you get through the salary questions:

  1. Read up on salary ranges for the position – There are many sites on the internet that give the salary ranges for different positions – sometimes even for those positions in the company you are applying for. Knowing the expected salary can help you tailor your responses to the recruiters.


  1. Deflect the question – If you are asked your expected salary, it is generally a good idea to deflect the question especially if it comes too early in the interview. Say that you want to know more about the position first. This underscores that you are very interested in the position. Another way of deflecting the question is to politely ask if it would be possible to know how much they budgeted for the position especially based on the ranges that you’ve researched. The second method has the added benefit that you can know how much they expect to pay.


  1. Do not give a specific value – If you give your expected pay, do not give a specific value. Give a range that is within the researched salary range or within their budget (if it has been shared by the hiring manager). By giving a range, you are providing some space for negotiation. If they do decide to make an offer, employers generally try to pay above the minimum range of your expected salary.


  1. Don’t tell them your current salary – While you can stay silent and just refuse to answer, it is better to firmly and politely decline to state it. You can say that financial information is private and that you would prefer that any offer they may extend be based on your qualifications and experience.


  1. Do not negotiate at this time – Just because the salary question was opened up does not mean it is time to negotiate the salary for the job. Salary negotiations should only be done once a formal offer has been extended.


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