Tips for Communicating Money in an Interview

An Interview for communicating money. If you had to pick one, what would be the most difficult question to answer in a job interview? Common ones that I find particularly challenging include the following:

  • In five years, where do you see yourself? If I were to guess… My only goal in life is to be happy.
  • Give me an idea of where you’re weak. (In what ways can I make this sound more optimistic?)
  • Describe yourself to me. (This isn’t a real question.)

Yet… the question about your wage expectations may be the most unnerving of the bunch.

Putting a number on your “desired compensation” seems like a huge statement, one that may determine your success or failure. I’m afraid that if I volunteer too much information, the hiring manager will eliminate me as a candidate. What if I don’t speak out and wind up with a far smaller paycheck than I could have gotten?

I polled a small sample of my coworkers across a variety of job functions, departments, areas of expertise, and years of service to get their thoughts on the best way to approach this subject.

How to Reply to the Salary Question.

1) Research the going rate for your position before going in for the interview.

This question completely threw me off guard during my first job interview. The only thing I could think to say was, “What are you ready to pay for this role?” Very bad idea. Only after starting at the company did I learn that my starting salary was lower than that of two other applicants who had begun at the same time as me. How do we vary from one another? They’d come to an agreement.

Know what other people in your position, in your area, and with your degree of experience are making before you walk into the interview room. You can find out this information by consulting websites like or by inquiring with people you know. In some cases, you can even research the salary ranges of current and former employees on Glassdoor.

You’ll be better equipped to answer the question after reading this. A salary range commensurate with your skills and experience is what you should aim for. If you ask for a salary that is out of line with the market rate for the position you are applying for, you will come across as both inexperienced and arrogant. If you lowball your asking price, you’ll end up losing money. The base salary serves as a benchmark against which subsequent pay increases and bonuses can be compared. It could end up costing you a lot of money in the long run if you get your career off to a bad start. By Vasundhara Sawhney (she/her), Ascend Senior Editor

2) Do some digging and put up a case that’s supported by facts.

I come from a middle-class background, and my parents always instilled in me the belief that I should be content with the first reasonable offer of employment.

I definitely recall my very first response to this question at a job interview: “Now, at this point of my career, learning and the quality of work matters far more than the compensation. So, I am content with the organization’s baseline compensation.

After further consideration, I believe that adhering to this guideline is acceptable while you are just starting out in your job, but as you advance in your position or become an expert in your pitch, you may be leaving money on the table by giving such an answer.

Making a well-reasoned, evidence-based case for oneself is, in my opinion, the most effective strategy for achieving your goals. You can achieve this by checking out your market value online and reading up on the role’s history. In order to prevent an argument, you should try to keep the discourse focused on evidence. The phrase “based on my study, the average employee in this capacity in our city makes [pay range]” is acceptable here. Considering my education and work history, I believe [this range] to be reasonable. A range can be used to demonstrate your openness to negotiation.

Saying something like, “I’m genuinely thrilled about this possibility, and open to discussing it further,” will demonstrate your adaptability to the hiring manager. You’ve demonstrated your pragmatism and willingness to work with others by doing this (a good quality for a job candidate).

If you want to impress your potential employer, you need to stop talking about yourself and start talking about what you can do for the firm. “(…) I am deserving of this because I am fantastically gifted and totally trustworthy.” Regional Director, South Asia and the Middle East, Dviwesh Mehta

3.If you are unsure about the wage range for the position, you should enquire about it.

In retrospect, I can place the interview where I was originally asked this question. As a young, enthusiastic 21-year-old, I was excited to begin my career in health care, a field I imagined myself enjoying. Honestly, I hadn’t researched salaries ahead of time because I didn’t anticipate I’d be questioned about them in the first interview. I just said, “Whatever you deem appropriate for a clinical coordinator.” A huge faux pas since I gave up all leverage in negotiations.

As challenging it was, I truly enjoyed my work. Both in and out of the lab, I put in a lot of time. This wage was unsustainable. What I should have asked was, “What is the salary range for this position.” That is, the minimum and maximum amounts an organization is prepared to pay for someone to do that role. As unbelievable as it may seem, there are businesses that do share such data.

If I knew this, I would negotiate for a salary that is around the market’s upper bound rather than its median. In a market where the 90th percentile wage is $60k, I would aim for a salary of $57k. This gives room for a reasonable compensation discussion. Senior Product Manager, Incubator -Umar

4) Go for the stars, but be prepared to negotiate down from there.

When applying for a job at a nonprofit, I usually check their Form 990 to see how much the highest-paid staff are making before giving a wage range for myself. Knowing the ceiling allows me to set realistic goals.

Now, if you were to ask me what kind of income I was hoping for, I’d be more than willing to share that information. I say “mainly” because, like everyone else, I have a range of pay I would be willing to accept, but I would only reveal the upper end of that range to a potential employer. Negotiating down is more comfortable for me than going up. I give them an amount that is a bit higher than my existing wage. The next job I take should pay higher than the one I have now if I am to consider leaving my current employer.

The art of getting what you want is something I really believe in. If I don’t ask for what I want, how can I expect to receive it? The role of human resources is to seal the deal if the hiring manager is already sold on hiring you. Is it somewhere I would want to work if they flat-out rejected me because my pay demands were too high?

In the words of Seven (they/them), Senior Product Manager, Learning Design and Development

5. Make the most of the opportunity to enquire about the full range of benefits.

This question has been asked of me at the end of every single job interview I’ve ever gone on, whether it was the initial interview, a preliminary screening, or the actual position.

My response is based on the counsel of a former coworker of mine who is now a senior financial adviser at Ameriprise Co. He cautioned me to never choose a number at random. Ask the interviewers what kind of perks you can expect to receive instead. He advised me to look beyond monetary compensation when evaluating a potential employer.

An early-career worker, for instance, may value health insurance, a stable income, and reasonable hours more than a greater salary and more demanding schedule. But, if you are having trouble meeting your financial obligations, such as paying for food and shelter, you may want to focus on increasing your income.

Yet, there is a potential downside to emphasizing perks above salary: it may lead to confusion about your expectations. This has never worked out for me before. I’ve noticed that during periods of high employment competition, firms have a tendency to offer less than they’re worth in order to attract and retain qualified workers. A competent expert knows their worth and rates themselves in accordance with market metrics, – Stephanie Kazem (Digital marketer at HBR)

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