The salary question is one of the toughest questions you will be asked in your job search. Of course, you want to answer with the right amount – without selling yourself short or pricing yourself out of the job. So, it’s tricky.

Personally, I don’t think there is one correct answer to the salary question. Each employer might be looking for something different in an answer. That said, here are three steps to help determine your response. Focus on creating the message you are most comfortable and confident delivering

  1. Know your worth – Before you walk into any interview situation, you should have a good idea of what you are worth in the marketplace. Take into consideration things like: years of experience, education, skills, geography, certifications, etc. Research other companies to see what they are offering similar positions or check salary sites like salary.com or payscale.com for data.
  2. Know what you want – Regardless of salary surveys, current pay, etc. you may have a dollar amount in your head that is what you require: your bottom line. You need to decide how firm you are on this amount and if there are any variables that could alter this figure, e.g. vacation days, telecommuting options, flexible schedule, etc.
  3. Determine what you want to share:
  • A range – Based on your research, you could offer a range to your potential employer based on your skills, experience and market value. Make the range big enough for some negotiation. And always make sure you are comfortable with the bottom number in the range.
  • A number that’s high – You could be aggressive in your salary strategy, by giving a number that is significantly higher than what you are currently making or higher than the going rate for the position. If you take this approach, be sure to have plenty of solid reasons to justify your premium rate. Also, be careful not to go too high; you may accidentally price yourself out of the job.
  • No answer – You could state that you prefer not to discuss salary until an offer is made. You could say you need more facts or time to think before responding. In my opinion this approach is probably the riskiest. The employer may not want to waste any more time pursuing you if you could ultimately end up out of the price range.

Whatever type of answer you choose, just make sure you sound prepared. Don’t be shocked when you are asked this question. Give a strong answer that you believe in. If you can, try to leave the hard negotiations until you have a job offer on the table.

How do you approach the salary question? Let us know in the comments.

Jill Kempka

About Jill Kempka


Jill loves to share information about ways to keep up with the changing world of work. She focuses on quick tips, facts and helpful lists to give job seekers tactics and advice they can immediately use.