On Youtube, we recently shared several examples of things job seekers do in interviews that make them look desperate. I was surprised at the number of viewers who were bothered by the suggestion to never bring up salary in the interview. The main pushback was, "Why waste one another's time if the salary and benefits aren't a match?" I can see how some people might think it's a good idea to discuss this up front. But, I'm going to give you two good reasons why you shouldn't.
Reason No. 1 - You're saying money is your main motivator.
Imagine walking into a store ready to buy a very expensive TV. A salesperson approaches you and the first thing she says is, "What's the most you can spend?" How would you feel about that? Instead of getting to know your wants and needs, this person just revealed all she's thinking about is what's in it for her. When a job seeker asks in the very first interview how much the job pays, it sends the same message. Hiring managers need to get to know you first. Your focus should be on earning their trust and respect. The more you can help them to see the value you'll bring to the role, the better the chances you can get the salary you really want. Which leads to the second reason why you shouldn't bring up salary first...
Reason No. 2 - You're actually hurting your chances of negotiating for more pay later.
Going back to the shopping scenario. Have you ever found something you really, really wanted, but it was more than you wanted to spend? I'm sure you found yourself trying to justify why it made sense to spend the extra money, right? Well, same goes for hiring managers! When they finally decide you're the person they most want to hire, you sit in the driver's seat. They don't want their second pick, they want their first. Which means, it's your turn to layout what you need to accept the job.
NOTE: If the hiring manager brings salary up, be ready to answer.
When a hiring manager asks about your salary expectations that's a "buy" signal. It means they're interested in you and want to make sure you're in their price range. That's why it's so important to do your homework prior to the interview and respond to their question with a salary range. The range should be your walk-away rate (a/k/a lowest amount you could accept without feeling like you would need to keep looking for a better job). Followed up by your ideal rate. This range will likely be very broad, but that's okay. You just say,
"My range is __ to __, depending upon the benefits and opportunities for growth."
If pushed for a single number, give them the median and say,
"I would look for ___, but would hope that if the job proves to be more advanced than what I'm thinking then there would be room to negotiate."
P.S. - If the employer can't budge on salary, then it may be time to walk away.
You have to know your worth and stand up for it. Yes, you may risk not getting the job. But, taking a job where you feel severely underpaid never works out either. You'll resent the employer from day one and eventually leave - usually, on bad terms. Conversely, I've seen lots of employers circle back after they interviewed other candidates and say, "We've seen what's out there and we're ready to pay the extra to get you." I've even seen situations where the employer comes back when a more senior role opens up that meets the salary requirement. Knowing your worth and focusing on opportunities that will let you feel like it's a win-win partnership is vital to building a satisfying career. They key is to respect the interview process and know when and how to discuss pay rates!