How to Talk Salary in the Job Interview

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During any hiring process you’re going to be asked what your desired salary is. It may come as early as when you are applying or perhaps as late as a few interviews into the process. But either way, if you are applying to a job you should be prepared for this question. 

Many applicants see this interaction as a bit of a catch-22; is it better to overstate what you want and run the risk of being turned down for asking for too much? Or is it safer to just ask for a base salary with the hopes of being hired and then getting a salary bump during your employment? While many see this as a tightrope, there are a few simple strategies you can employ to get what you want without worrying about being dismissed for asking for too much. 

The first important step is to really think about what you are worth and what you want. Not just in terms of a yearly or hourly salary but what sort of benefits and bonuses you need to make the job worth your while. If you are changing careers or companies make sure you know all the numbers of your old job and be able to clearly articulate them to your potential new employer. Just remember that the company you’re applying for can’t give you what you want if you haven’t thought it out and prepared to articulate it.  

Remember that you don’t need to answer this question right away. You can’t accurately answer how much you think you deserve for a job if you don’t know the full details of what the job entails. Don’t be afraid to say something like “I’d like to know more about the responsibilities and expectations of the position” or “I need to have a better understanding of your company’s bonuses and promotion structure.” You have every right to know this information and the better you understand the job the stronger your salary ask will be. 

Before you actually give a salary ask, you should also do some research on what a competitive rate would be. Once you have thought about what you want and gotten a good idea of what the job entails you can give an educated response to the salary question. You can also ask for a range instead of a specific number, you can say something like “from my research and understanding of the position I think x to x would be a fair salary range” or “given my experience and history I think x to x is a reasonable range.” This both shows you know what you’re talking about and gives the employer some room to negotiate. You want to avoid giving them a number that you wouldn’t work for but you should expect to give a little ground. 

Salary is always going to be an awkward part of a job interview but it’s also your chance to show that you value yourself. The more research you do prior to stepping into an interview the more prepared and confident you will feel when this comes up and the better odds than you will get what you want.  

This article was written by Sam Rogal.
Sam Rogal is a writer and professional living in New York City. He has worked in the film and theater industry and graduated top of his class with a degree in Communications. 

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