How To Answer The Dreaded Salary Question
You know you are going to get the question about salary requirements. While it may be an uncomfortable question to be asked, my best advice is to prepare in advance to answer the question. How do you do this? Use the internet! Nowadays there is a lot of information out there about salary ranges. Companies like Glassdoor, Payscale, and Salary.com have information available to the job seeker on the pay rate for positions in a certain geographic area. Remember salary ranges are often determined by the cost of living in a certain area or the demand/supply in a certain market. Use what you find to assess what someone with your education and years of experience could expect in that particular geographic market.
Once you have this information, assess whether the range fits your own personal needs. Is it unreasonable for you to take a job based on the salary range? If so, could a bonus or other factors make it more palatable? Think through what you would need to make the job work. If the range is comfortable for you, then assess what is the lowest salary amount you would take. When you get asked the question by the company, you now have more power in the negotiation. You should first try to get the company to reveal the range they are working with for the position. You can try something like, “You must have some sort of range for this position. Could you please share it and then I can tell you if that would work for me?” Sometimes this will work, sometimes not. If the company will not budge with revealing this information, then I would suggest that you tell the recruiter what you found in your internet search. Something like, “Well, I did some research and it looks like someone with my years of experience and education could be expected to make X” with X more toward the middle to upper end of the range you discovered in your search. If the range is good, usually the recruiter will move on. If the range is too high but close, you may hear the recruiter talk a bit more about what they can pay and see if you are flexible. That is where the lowest salary you would take comes into place. You now know if the range meets that lowest salary number you have thought about. If it does, great. If not, you should move on.
While it seems unfair that you should need to talk about salary early in the conversation, this conversation will save you a lot of time and heartache if the job just will not pay you what you need. It may be best to move on.