Beware of the Dreaded Salary Questions
Nothing knocks you out of an interview faster than mishandling the salary question. The key to success is coming from a place of confidence: it won't be an issue if you're right for the job.
The first rule of salary negotiations is "Postpone Salary Talk Until You Get an Offer." Prepare by creating and memorizing a "put off the question" phrase customized to you and your style. One will answer "What are you looking for?" The other will answer: "What are [were] you making in your current [previous] position?"
Usually, the employer wants to know if you're affordable and you're the right caliber of candidate for the job. You can get a general idea of what's affordable for the employer, but you can't know for sure—especially these days. Rather than blindly guessing, use one of the phrases below.
Here are some answers to the dreaded salary question.
"I'm really uncomfortable talking about salary now. I Don't want to get screened out because I was making too much or too little. Can we discuss the job? If it's a good fit, I'm sure we can come up with a number that will work for both of us."
"I'm not sure yet how I can produce value for your company. Can we talk about that first? I think the salary discussion will make more sense after we establish that."
"I'm sure you pay fair wages. If you decide I'm the right candidate, I'm sure we can work something out. let's talk about the job."
Career changers and others who may be facing a pay cut
"I was making a lot. Frankly, I Don't expect to make what I was being paid before. I'd like to fit into your salary structure."
If you're in sales
This is a tough response that not everyone will feel comfortable saying. "I'm sorry, but I can't give you that information. Certainly, if I was working for you, I would never reveal that sort of information to a customer."
If the employer is insistent, you can move to the second rule, and let the employer go first:
"You probably couldn't afford what I was making. What is the range that you're looking to pay?"
"Give me an idea of the range you have in mind, and I'll let you know if we're in the right ballpark."
Artful handling of these salary questions can mean the difference between being seriously considered—and getting a quick rejection.
For more information on salary, be sure to pick up a copy of Jack Chapman's book, "Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make $1,000 a Minute" and attend Jack's free webinar on salary negotiations.