Should I talk about salary in a job interview?

#AskFirebrand: Should I talk about salary in a job interview?

Recently I filmed a video for our #AskFirebrand video series, providing some personal hints and tips on what I think is one of the most uncomfortable subjects you could face in an interview: “What are your salary expectations?”

Uncomfortable because it’s a question that if answered incorrectly, can change the whole dynamic of the interview. It’s one of those things that you shouldn’t overthink, but you should most definitely consider before going ahead with your interview.

Below are some hints and tips that will help you along your way or you can watch the YouTube video.

Firstly, is it ok to volunteer salary information during a job interview?

Well, if you don’t mind the interview taking a potentially risky turn, then yes. If not, then I would leave this well alone.

Personally, I would never voluntarily bring this up during the interview — unless the company is formulating an offer — as it can send the message that you value the dollar, over the opportunity itself.

The interview process should be about you demonstrating throughout the selection process, how you will bring value to the organisation. The interviewer wants to see enthusiasm, they want to feel that you value the role itself, and their company. So talking about money from the offset can be a bit ugly, and can set the wrong impression.

Until the organisation has decided that they want to hire you, salary shouldn’t be a topic of interest. Hold back on providing this information until then.

But what if the interviewer asks you what salary you’re looking for?

Well, this can be a bit tricky as you don’t want to ‘not’ address a question that you are being asked directly. My opinion, however, is that you should try to deflect the question as best you can, but in a really positive way.

You should always emphasise that you are flexible around salary and that your goal is to secure the right role in the right organisation, so as not to overprice or undervalue yourself.

A statement like – ‘I’m quite keen to learn more about the role/opportunity first as it will give me a better idea of how my experience can be applied to it which will help me benchmark my salary expectations,’ should do the trick.

What if the interviewer keeps on asking?

This could put you in ‘uncomfortable’ territory as you are probably going to feel at this stage that you will have to provide an answer. My advice would be that if they keep asking you, rather provide a salary benchmark than an exact salary.

BUT do your due diligence first. You will only be able to provide this answer if you take the time to understand the market you work in. You will want to make the benchmark realistic, and based on real market intelligence you have collected.

Also, it’s dangerous to assume that your current (or most recent) salary is the right market rate, as this may not be the case.

There are tools out there that can help you with this. If you’re in Sydney or Melbourne, visit Compare My Salary tool to see the market rate.

If you have/or are working with a recruiter, talk to them as they will have a good understanding of what market rates are when based on experience — so ask their advice from the outset.

No matter what happens, salary questions are always difficult and uncomfortable to have. So to sum up:

  • Don’t volunteer the information yourself/ask the question early on as it looks like you value the dollar more than the opportunity
  • If asked by the interviewer, try to deflect, but in a positive way
  • If they continue to ask you, be prepared for what is realistic by doing your market research first
  • Talk to your recruiter (if you have one) as they can help!

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