Nothing divides interview opinion quite as much as salary…
But aside from being a great way to ensure a role is right for you, finding out how much is on offer could actually help save everyone’s time in the long run – especially if it turns out it’s not in line with your expectations.
To make sure you know exactly when (and how) to ask about salary at your interview, here are a few of our top tips:
Use the interview as a guide
First thing’s first: there are no set rules on talking about salary within an interview.
It’s all about gauging the situation, and approaching the subject with caution.
To make sure you don’t bring it up at a time when it won’t be well-received, use aspects like the interviewer’s approach, and the intensity of the questions you’re being asked, to figure out whether money is a good topic of conversation.
For example, if there is a second interview as part of the hiring process, bringing up salary might be a better fit at this stage. But if proceedings have been particularly informal, or if it’s clear there aren’t any other interviews to attend, discussing money is perfectly acceptable.
Similarly, using your questions at the end of an interview to bring up salary isn’t uncommon, and is the most effective way to introduce the subject politely – providing it’s not the only thing you ask about…
Pick the right moment
It probably goes without saying that asking how much money you could get is off limits within the first few minutes (see also: seconds) of your interview.
Not only could it indicate you’re more interested in the money than you are in the actual job, it could also imply that you don’t have much to offer in terms of skills and experience.
So, before you start to think about how much you’re making, make sure you cover all the other interview bases first. Whether it’s selling your skills, demonstrating your experience, or just concentrating on each individual question that comes up, make sure you get the basics sorted before thinking about figures.
After all, nobody likes a gold digger (thanks Kanye).
Get your expectations sorted
Before you bring up the M word, it’s important that you have salary expectations in mind – ones that represent the company and role accurately.
To make sure you go into the interview armed with as much knowledge as possible, it’s absolutely vital to research potential salary brackets beforehand, with the role and organisation in mind. Salary checkers are a great place to start, but you could also try checking similar positions in your area, which should give you a good idea.
Once you’re in the know about what they’re likely to offer, you’ll be able to come up with realistic salary expectations.
Not only does this ensure you’re both on the same page in the interview, it also safely avoids any awkward silences…
Be prepared for them to make the first move
Sometimes, an employer might come out and ask for your expectations before you bring it up yourself.
Although being asked obviously allows you the opportunity to discuss money more freely, it’s always best to maintain a sense of diplomacy with your answer.
Slightly overstating the amount you’re looking for, drawing attention to your interest in the position itself, or explaining that you need to know more before answering, are all good strategies here. Especially as they’ll help you from falling into the ‘I’m flexible’ trap, which could mean you end up receiving a lower offer than you’re looking for.
However, it’s also the perfect opportunity to politely ask the employer about the range they have in mind.
N.B. lying about your current earnings is never a good idea.
Concentrate on showing your own value
Finally, succeeding in an interview often comes down to knowing your worth.
So before anything money related comes up, you should’ve taken the time to explain your suitability and passion for the role you’re interviewing for. That way, salary will be representative of your skills and experience, and the employer will be able to accurately assess if the amount they have in mind matches up.
If you’re not sure their offer is enough for you, present your reasoning assertively, and don’t be afraid to negotiate – as long as you have the grounds to back it.
Remember: confidence is key.
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