What happens if a potential employer asks you questions related to your salary expectations during an interview? How should you respond? Here are three interview tips to deal with that possibility.
1. Expect to be asked about salary
One of the most important interview tips is to be prepared, and this is something that may come up. Employers will likely have a budget in mind, even before they start the hiring process, for the position they’re looking to staff. So you should be prepared to be asked what you are interested in making in the role you are applying for, even in the initial stages of the hiring process.
One reason you may be asked about your salary expectations is that the hiring manager will want to know if you and the company have the same general range in mind. If, for example, your salary requirement is $60,000, but the company is willing or able to offer only $45,000, for instance, the employer will want to know on the front end.
Related interview tips? Keep in mind that there may be Employee Perks to Negotiate.
2. Have a salary range in mind
Consult resources such as Robert Half's latest Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance. Plug your zip code and experience for the position you’re seeking into the Salary Calculator. Factor in your skills, knowledge and everything you bring to the table. Read the job description to see how well you stack up against the minimum qualifications without taking your salary expectations into account.
Pursue jobs in your desired salary range, of course, but be careful that you don’t rule out positions because the salaries listed in job ads don't match your expectations. There’s almost always room for negotiation, and some companies may post salaries that are on the lower end of the range they’re willing to pay to allow for some back and forth.
3. Hold steady in your negotiation, but be honest
If you’re asked about your salary requirements and you don't have a ready answer, make sure you don’t undersell yourself. Say something like, “Actually, I was wondering what this position pays. Do you have a range in mind?” The best advice is to practice your responses before you go to the interview so you won’t be caught off guard. Rehearse in front of a mirror or with a friend.
If the interviewer continues to push, don’t panic. This is where your research comes in handy. Cite a range so you don’t lock yourself into a concrete figure. You want to leave some flexibility to negotiate if the employer’s offer is below your expectations.
By focusing on your desired salary, you keep the emphasis where it should be: on your next job.
Read more interview tips about how you can work with Robert Half's recruiters to find a position matched to your unique skill set and requirements.
Editor's note: This post was published in 2014 and updated recently to reflect more current information.