What if you are asked about salary in an interview?

- By Dr. Di

What if, in a job interview, you’re asked “How much do you expect to earn?”  Sounds pretty straight forward, doesn’t it?  But, it’s really a tricky question.  Here’s the advice I’ve given my students over the years:  Avoid answering the salary question until you’re in a stronger bargaining position—like when they’ve offered you the job. Say something like, “I think, when the time comes, we’ll be able to agree on an acceptable rate, but right now I’d like to talk about how my skills meet what you’re looking for.”   And then follow with a question that gets the interviewer talking about the tasks that will be performed, so that you can say how you’ll fit.

Another way to answer might be to ask what the salary range is for the position.  And then react positively to the range with a nod or a “That should work.”  If the interviewer presses for a specific response—that is, indicates they have to know before even continuing the interview—then give a number that is on the high side of the scale.

Of course, if you’re a total newbie in the field, you may need to take what is standard for the position after asking, knowing that with experience and stellar performance you’ll be able to negotiate a higher pay in a few months.