How many times have you been in an interview and been asked what your desired salary is? It can be an awkward question to answer. You may not want to disclose your number until you hear the company’s offer, for fear that you will shortchange yourself.
The thing is, you need to be sure that your salary expectations align with what the company is offering. The sooner you can be sure that there is a match, the better. Otherwise, you won’t want to waste your time going through a potentially lengthy interview process.
The Intent Behind the Question
The hiring manager and/or interview team is posing this question to you for a reason. They want to see what someone with your skills and experience will cost them. Now is not the time for negotiating! This is simply your chance to state your desired salary and see if it is in the ballpark of what they can afford to pay. It’s a starting point before you proceed with the interview.
How to Discuss Your Desired Salary
The key to answering this question is research. Before you go into an interview, you should find out as much as you can about the position and the company. Are they more conservative? How generous is their benefits package? Remember, salary is only part of your overall compensation.
You should also spend some time researching the salary range for comparable positions in your geographic area. You should be able to get a general idea of the range from other job postings and even online salary tools. Once you have this information, you can compare your skills and experience with the range to see where you would fit. (For example, if you’re new to the industry, you would likely fall in the lower end of the salary range.)
If you are hesitant to give your number first, you can try turning the question around on the interviewer. Ask what the company has budgeted for the position. If they answer, you can learn two things. First, whether they have done industry and area research on appropriate salaries for this type of role. Second, you can see if their range fits with your personal expectations.
If the interviewer declines to answer, you’ll have to go first. The best advice is to provide a salary range of your own, not a single number. This leaves you wiggle room later on when you receive an offer and have the chance to negotiate your actual starting salary.
Discussing your desired salary doesn’t have to be awkward! Just remember that a job search is like dating: you need to find out if certain aspects match. Salary is a major part of accepting a new job, so it’s best to find out as soon as possible if you and the company are compatible.