"In an interview, how do you answer 'What is your desired salary?' without seeming too cheap or too expensive to get the job?" originally appeared on Quora--the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
You should not answer this question. I'll give you a scenario that is likely to happen.
An interviewer asks about your desired salary, and you say, "I prefer not to answer that question at this point" or something similar.
He then asks you the same question a few times in a few different ways to try to get you to give in and quote a number. That would be a big mistake! You have to do everything in your power to refuse answering this question. The rule of the negotiation game is that the first quoted number has to come from the employer. Never from the candidate.
Let's continue the scenario. When you said, "I prefer not to answer right now," then the interviewer said, "Well, I really need to put a number on this form to be able to proceed. It's just our standard process."
Most newbies will feel uncomfortable and say a number. No one wants to argue with a "standard" process. Well, let me tell you, there's no such thing as a standard process for job recruiting. There may be agreements made once someone's in the company, but there's no one thing that cannot be changed to hire a top candidate. So stay confident when you get exposed to the "standard process" talk and continue by stating something compassionate and that reflects your firm position as someone who does not want to quote a number. This way you convey that you're not cheap or expensive, and that you are a professional.
Here's how you can respond: "I understand that is your standard process. However, I need to understand this position a bit better first, by talking to a few more people at your company."
The interviewer then says: "OK. But what is the minimum you want?" or "Well then. What is your salary in your current job?"
You see, the interviewer does everything in his power to get you to reveal your desired salary. But you should stay strong; no number should come out of your mouth.
At this point, I recommend you smile. And continue with confidence. You can reply like this: "He-he, I see where you're coming from and why you would like to know my salary expectations. I believe my current salary is irrelevant to this conversation, simply because this position is quite different from what I do today. As I said, I really need to understand your company's needs better before I can think about the salary. What is the salary you are willing to offer?"
As you see, you (the candidate) should always stay calm and confident and never get adversarial. You always start your sentences with compassion, with words such as "I understand" or "I appreciate" or "I get it." You then acknowledge what the interviewer has just said to show that you are listening and fully present. Then you make your point (wanting to learn more is a good point, but be very careful not to promise to quote a number after you learn more. You just need to say you want to learn more! That's it!) And in the end, you've put the ball in the interviewer's court by saying something new.
You have turned the conversation around and asked the interviewer what salary the company would offer.
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