When you’re asked that dreaded question about your current salary during an interview and what you’d like to earn, it’s important to be prepared so you don’t underbid yourself. Have an idea for what you’d like to earn, but keep in mind that your salary is negotiable. In general, the initial offer is a starting point for a discussion.
Remember that interviews are a two-way street, and as a company is evaluating your potential, you also need to determine if this opportunity is right for you. How you answer questions about salary can help you put yourself in the best position possible. As you progress in the interview process, here are six do’s and don’t’s when negotiating your salary.
[Related: Employers, use Glassdoor's new tool, Know Your Worth(tm) to be sure your salaries are competitive in the industry.]
DON’T: Forget to do your homework
DO: Before your interview, research the position and understand the compensation at that company and within the industry. Along with interview questions and company reviews, Glassdoor compiles salary information from current and former employees within companies and industries. This data can be valuable during the negotiation process down the road, but you also need to understand compensation within an industry and geography for your skillset and experience.
DON’T: Forget to ask about the salary range during the initial screening interview
DO: If your resume matches the job requirements, human resources will call to screen your interest and answer general questions about the position and company. During this time, asking about the salary range will give you an idea for what the company has budgeted for the position.
DON’T: State your salary when asked by the hiring manager
DO: Early in the process, rather than provide the hiring manager with your current or desired salary, deflect the question. Explain that you’re learning about the position and whether you have the right skillset, and ask about the job’s requirements and expectations so you can understand the company’s needs.
You can also explain that your current salary isn’t a good measure for what you should earn in the new position since the responsibilities at each job are different. If you’re underpaid because you work at a nonprofit or haven’t changed jobs for some time, for example, and you disclose your compensation, you risk receiving an offer that’s not on par with the market. You want an offer that’s competitive for that role and your skillset.
DON’T: Talk about salary first
DO: Your goal is to get the hiring manager to provide you with a budgeted salary range for the position before you talk about your desired compensation. Only after you understand the role can you have a productive conversation about salary and explain the range you’d desire.
DON’T: Be too specific
DO: Rather than provide an exact number for what you want, share a desired salary range for similar positions or what you’d desire considering your expertise and experience combined with the manager’s expectations for the position.
If the employer is asking because they are looking to make you an offer, you can also ask that the offer be based on what’s budgeted for the position. If the number is lower than what you’re looking for, you have a choice to negotiate or decline the offer.