“Isn’t it odd that salary expectation is one of the major drivers in a career move but yet is one of the job seeker’s most dreaded interview questions? Absurd though this phenomenon may seem, there are very good reasons you may wish to think long and hard before offering an answer to the question, “How much salary do you currently earn, or how much are you seeking in your next role?” Consider your last unsuccessful job interview. Maybe you handled the questions brilliantly up to that point but your disclosure of your current or expected salary priced you out of the job. Your figure could have been too high for the company’s budget. Alternatively, it could have been so low that it raised doubts in the recruiter’s mind about your worth and potential value to the company. As you prepare for your next job interview, take the necessary steps to ensure that the quality of your response to this question enhances rather than diminishes your chance of securing that job.
Have the relevant salary information at your finger tips
It is not advisable that you disclose specific figures in respect of your current or expected salary before you know what the company is willing to pay. Consequently, your ability to respond effectively to the question, ‘How much salary do you currently earn or are you seeking in your next role,” hinges largely on your level of preparation prior to the job interview. Spend some time researching the salary range relevant to your career field, the industry and the geographical location. Be prepared to use the information when this becomes necessary. Additionally, if you have the opportunity of a screening interview with an HR Representative, use the occasion to get information on the salary range for the position ahead of your face-to-face interview with the HR manager.
Refocus the interview if the salary question is ill-timed
One of your goals in an interview should be to adequately explore, with the interviewer, the job requirements and the organisation’s goal and culture to determine whether the job is a good fit. If the salary question is raised before these issues are adequately addressed, use diplomacy. Tactfully sidestep the question and refocus the discussion around your interview goals. Calmly and politely express your desire to explore the requirements of the job more deeply to determine how well you will be able to fit in and contribute to the organisation, before addressing the question of salary.
Be ready to propose a salary range
Whenever it becomes necessary and appropriate for you to respond to the question of how much you are currently earning or are seeking in your new role, be ready to offer a salary range. You may base this either on your research or on your desired salary. Whichever it is, let the interviewer know what index you are using. Explain, for example, that the range you have suggested is based on your research of similar positions in the industry and geographic region, or alternatively, on the job specification as discussed and on your skills and experience.
Devise other ways of getting around the salary question
When dealing with the question of how much you currently earn or expect in your new role, your goal should always be to get the interviewer to reveal the organization’s budget for the position before you offer a suggestion. Look for ways to get around the question even while enticing the interviewer to reveal the company’s salary package. Try, for example, responding to the salary question by emphasizing your flexibility and your desire to get the opportunity to add value to the organization. Follow up with a comment on your interest in knowing how the organization values this position and then shut up. This is your cue for the interviewer to fill in the missing pieces of the dialogue. It could well be the clincher that gets the salary information for the job out in the open before you are pressed into offering a suggestion.
Let your Body Language aid you’re maneuvering
In all of this maneuvering, remember body language is always important. You do not want to come across as being aggressive. So, smile politely, maintain a relaxed, friendly body posture and be respectful in your tone and general mannerism even when you are dancing around the salary question.
The question of how much salary you currently earn or are seeking in your next role is one you should always be prepared to address at a job interview. This, however, does not mean providing specific figures. Remember, doing so may hinder rather than advance your chances of getting that job. Limit the answer you give in response to the question, “’How much salary do you currently earn or are you seeking in your next role,” to a salary range. Then, lure your interviewer into letting you off the hook by disclosing the company’s salary offer for the position.