Salary Requirements: How to Address This Question in an Interview

“What sort of salary are you looking for?”

If you feel like this question is a trap or a trick, you’re not alone.  Many interviewees feel “stuck” when confronting the salary question.  Answer too high, and you’ll probably be eliminated from the hiring process; answer too low and you’ve sold yourself short – in addition to giving the interviewer reason to question your professional competence.

Even the toughest interview questions can be handled with skill, however, and the salary question is no exception.  Like other tough questions, the key to responding well to a query about salary requirements is to prepare in advance.

  1. Do your research. As soon as possible during your job search, do some research to determine what your local market pays for professionals with your skills and experience in your industry.  Several prominent career-related Internet sites offer salary tools, or you can search job listings similar to the one to which you are applying to see if they list proposed salary ranges.  Don’t hesitate to ask your recruiter what a reasonable salary range is for a candidate with your particular background.
  2. Consider the whole package. Although salary is an important consideration for many job-seekers, it usually represents only one part of the entire compensation package.  Don’t forget to look into what else the employer or similar employers offer to candidates in your position, such as vacation and sick leave, insurance, retirement account options, flex time, or telecommuting.
  3. Prepare a range. Armed with information about the going rate in your industry and locality and the other benefits that are likely available, decide what an acceptable range for your salary would be.  Set both a “low” number below which you would choose not to take the job, and a “high” number that represents the highest amount you might realistically be paid.
  4. Ask back – but tell the truth. When asked what salary you’re looking for, you may wish to pose your response as a question.  For instance, you might say “The market value in our area for someone with my skills is between $60,000 and $75,000 per year.  Is this consistent with your range?”
    If you’re pressed for an answer or asked what you made at your last or current job, however, be honest, as the interviewer may verify this information with your previous employer.  Use the question as an opportunity to explain why you’re worth what you’re asking.  For instance, you might say “I earned $60,000 at my last job, but because I’ve developed technical expertise in coding web pages since that time, I believe I deserve $65,000.”

At Marquee Staffing, our experienced recruiters will help you prepare for interviews by providing personalized tips on the best way to present yourself and talk about “tough topics” like salary requirements.  Contact us today to learn more!

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