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mrlaconic's avatar

How should I answer the salary question in an interview?

Asked by mrlaconic (3973 points ) July 23rd, 2012

I currently have a job that I enjoy so I am not really looking for anything new. However, I have been getting pinged by recruiters recently and I am interested in entertaining offers.

When the salary question comes up how should I answer it to get them to give me a range? (note: asking for a range has not worked for me historically). I think the saying goes “he who speaks money first loses” and I don’t want to shoot myself in the foot.

Seeing as I don’t need need a new job money and benefits would be my only motivation to move. So I need a “P.C.” way of saying “I don’t need you if you want me make an offer”

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13 Answers

funkdaddy's avatar

Answer with a number that would motivate you to work there. I’d also try to make it make it realistic and fair.

So right at the top of what you consider to be fair market value for your skills. You can make it PC by listing things that you consider of equal importance to money and saying you’d consider taking a lesser salary for an opportunity that exhibited some of those things. (things like opportunities for advancement, a review after 6 months to reevaluate your salary, opportunities to work in other areas, training, or donations to causes you consider worthy).

In my opinion (and it’s only that), you actually want to be slightly higher than their range, so I wouldn’t force them to provide one. You want them to reach just a little beyond what they’re comfortable saying.

If they give a range and you want more, they’ve already drawn their line.

josie's avatar

You say, I am pretty happy with my job. It would have to be a pretty attractive improvement in pay and benefits for me to move. Then don’t say anything.

Ponderer983's avatar

I am following this question, as I am looking for a job and want to know what people say. As an employer, you know what you are offering, so how do we flip it when they ask the potential employee what they are looking for. you don’t want to sell yourself short or overshoot.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

There is a site called salary.com that gives a great break down for the range of salaries paid in medium to large metropolitan areas. I’ve used it successfully to know what the average pay was and what I was worth with my given experience in the field. Give it a shot, and good luck.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I wouldn’t know what it would be until I talked with the company and learned more about the job.If it was a great job, I might take less, if it wasn’t that great, but the money offset set that, it would be higher. So maybe say you need to learn a little more about the position before you want to specify a salary range.

DrBill's avatar

I have had success with, “I am entertaining several offers and will go with whoever offers the best package.” If they ask what offers I have, or what is the best offer, I explain that I do not share that information and I will not share their offer with others either.

mrlaconic's avatar

Thanks for all the great answers so far. @josie and @DrBill I think I will be able to use yours the easiest.

@Hawaii_Jake I have used Salary.com and payscale.com to figure out what the median is and I agree they are great tools.

Judi's avatar

If you are happy where you are, then give THEM a price that would make you consider moving.
“I really love my job and am happy where I am. I wouldn’t be able to consider an offer less than $xxx,xxxx. ”

BosM's avatar

The first rule of negotiation – “he who names the first number loses”. But, these are recruiters, so I am not sure how much negotiation you’d be doing. When recruiters call find out about the position and if interested simply ask them for the compensation package.

When it comes to negotiating salary, the best advice I can offer is to pass on what was taught to me, which is to not answer it but to have the organization/recruiter do so.

Let me explain… by the time you get to the point of discussing an offer you’ve already established mutual interest, and the recruiter should have provided a “range”, so when asked “what salary are you looking for” respond that you are looking for a compensation package that fairly rewards you for your skills, experience, and track record of accomplishments. Your recruiter should play a role in helping with this negotiation.

Hope this helps. Good luck.

mrlaconic's avatar

@BosM I completely agree that’s the way it should be but it unfortunately isn’t.

The initial calls that I get are always by recruiters and they always ask. When they ask me what I am looking for and my response is “May I have a range” I am either told that they wont provide one or they don’t know.

At that point I can try and say “Well I need to speak to the hiring manager to understand the job duties more before I can answer that question” Which has so far resulted in something along the lines of “I need an answer to provide to the hiring manager”

So I am then forced to provide a range which is based off a statistics from salary.com and payscale.com. I get a thank you and I never hear back again… and that isn’t because I am a bad interviewer. I stay cool, calm, and collected and I have a good answers to the questions they ask so the no return call has to be related to Salary.

anartist's avatar

It’s a barfer. Try to get them to throw out the first figure. “What salary range are you considering”—the one who names a number first is in the weakest position.

DON’T do what I did many long dumb years ago—listen to a former intern, who had gone on to various successful positions who said “I would never take anything lower than X” and then go to an interview, where as fuck-all lucklessness would have it, that same intern was employed by these people and was quietly working in the background but within earshot, and say “I would never take anything lower than X” WHILE I WAS OUT OF WORK!!!!! just because I couldn’t “lose face[?]” Dumber than dogshit. They were interested but were going a little leaner and I just blew myself right out of the ballpark. Funny 30 years later, not then.

BosM's avatar

@mrlaconic, if you are not hearing back from a recruiter then you’re not in the right range. Please clarify, are these Recruiters employees of the hiring company, or are they from a Search firm?

If they are from the hiring company and calling YOU then you’re in the drivers seat. Follow the advice I gave you in the previous answer, tell them you don’t give out compensation requirements, but rather need to know what they are looking for. If they won’t do so, then they’re fishing and not worth your time.

If the recruiter is from a search firm then they will want to vet out candidates to insure “best match” for the hiring company and therefore will share job and comp information.

All that being said, employers will pay a market rate. If they are fishing for the lowest paid candidate then they’re being short sighted and you don’t want to work for a company like that, don’t waste your time.

Remember, this is about negotiating, and it may be uncomfortable at times, but if you are reasonable with your requirements then stand your ground.

mowens's avatar

There is much more to a compensation package than money. The first one that says a number in that game loses. I usually say just that.

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