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No matter how promising the opportunity, there’s no denying that salaries are a major factor when accepting a job offer. For many of us, being compensated fairly for our skills and experience impacts job satisfaction.

While the impact of the pandemic took a toll on businesses, with many pausing salary increases and hiring inn 2020, signs of strong economic recovery means that competition for great employees to help business grow is heating up.

Related: Questions to ask in an interview

According to research by Robert Half, seven in 10 (70%) Australian companies are willing to increase their initial salary offering to secure new candidates this year. Of those, 40% plan to increase salary offers for top talent only while 30% will increase salary offers for all.*

While this is good news for jobseekers, it’s important to broach the salary conversation with your prospective employer at the right stage and with the right job interview preparation. Failing to do so could compromise your chance of securing the role or the salary you want.

If you are contemplating how to ask about the salary in a job interview, here are some factors to consider before you start discussing salaries during the interview process.

1. Avoid salary talk during the courtship phase

The first interview is an opportunity for your potential employer to get to know you and identify your attributes and strengths.

Before starting a dialogue about your salary expectations, you need to display suitability for the role and be sure the job is right for you, as well as attracting the attention of the hiring managers.

Related: Second interview questions to expect

Waiting until the second or third interview is much wiser for discussing the salary. Once you’re confident the company is interested and they understand your value, you can lay your cards on the table.

2. Don’t imply that money is your sole motivator

Although opportunities for a higher salary can be a catalyst for your decision to change jobs, suggesting that it’s your biggest motivation is a grave mistake when discussing pay in an interview.

Discussing salary during the initial interview, or referencing it in your cover letter or resume, can send the message that you value dollar signs over opportunity and experience.

3. Make sure you leave room for negotiation

When you do decide to discuss wages, don't mention a specific figure – provide your preferred salary range instead.

Showing that you're flexible is the first step towards negotiating a pay packet that’s viable for your employer and reflects your ambitions.

Arm yourself with information by consulting colleagues in your industry and reviewing a Salary Guide to assess your market rate. If you do your research, you'll be better equipped to negotiate.

Before you talk money, remember to put yourself in your potential employer's shoes. If you wait until you proved your value as a serious prospect, you're likely to get the best result.

4. Get your figures right

Knowledge is power.

Do some homework and research the latest salary trends for your city, industry and job title by reviewing compensation surveys and publications such as the Robert Half Salary Guide, and talking to colleagues and recruiters.

5. Present a solid case when discussing salary

Salary is a representation of the value an employee brings to the company.

You need to be able to talk specifically about your skills, experience and prior successes, especially those that have had measurable effect on the bottom line.

This will definitely benefit you when the time comes for salary negotiation. Don’t be afraid to let your enthusiasm for the role show – your passion can be contagious.

Related: Common interview questions and how to answer them

6. Don’t get ahead of yourself

Wait for the hiring manager to bring up the salary discussion and make sure you fully understand the requirements of the position before answering questions about your preferred pay.

Ask prospective employers what they think would be an appropriate pay range for the position so you can avoid giving a figure that is too high or low when discussing salary.

Related: Accepting a job offer

7. Don’t bluff

It’s never a good move to mislead a prospective employer about your current compensation or other higher-paying job offers in an effort to get more money.

Instead, emphasise the value you can bring to the organisation when discussing salary, and be honest about your desired remuneration.

Related: How to decline a job offer

How to negotiate salary in an interview

Always try to negotiate

If you’re offered a salary that doesn’t meet your expectations, it’s okay to request additional compensation. Employers may start at the lower end of their salary range, leaving room to move.

Think beyond the pay packet

Be sure to look at the full picture when evaluating a job offer. The job you love could offer a generous benefits package or opportunities to learn and grow with the company, which may compensate for a lower starting salary.

Get it in writing

Before accepting a job offer, make sure that you get an offer in writing stating the salary. It’s never a good idea to formally accept a job offer without seeing it in writing.

*Source: Independent survey commissioned by Robert Half among 1,000 office workers in Australia