How Much Salary Are You Going To Need?
This question is designed to provide the following information:
1.) To see if the salary expectations of the candidate are in line with what the salary range is
2.) To see if the company can get the candidate to bite on a low ball offer
3.) To determine if the candidate is motivated by salary, total compensation, or other factors
4.) To check out the candidate’s negotiating skills and business savvy
If there is a Cardinal sin in answering this question it is this:
Giving them an EXACT dollar figure- at least initially. Why?
a.) What if they were prepared to offer you $5-$10K more? You just screwed yourself out of a higher salary!
b.) What if your salary expectations are higher than they are willing to pay? Even though the total compensation would be substantially higher, you have thrown up a red flag, and now the interviewers are going to question whether or not you will be happy in that position. Now they are questioning whether or not you are worth the higher salary, and the entire dynamic of the interview has changed.
c.) You have now given the impression that you are inflexible- even if they are flexible
There are several ways in which you can answer this critical question:
Focus on Total Income
“Mike, to be honest with you, I am more interested in the potential total income for this position, and the growth in income over the next 3-5 years. While a salary is a definite requirement, I’m focused on what the total package would be. What is the potential first year total compensation?”
Explain your current situation
“Angela right now my base salary is $85K. I really do not want to take a big pay cut from my current salary. What is the salary range for this position?”
Propose a Mutually Beneficial Solution
“Joe, I am extremely interested in this position. I’m looking at the big picture here- what I can do to help your company, and the career satisfaction your company will provide me. My current salary is $100K. When we get to the point of negotiating an offer, I would like to discuss a package that would be a win- win situation for all.”
Now if the interviewer pushes back and says, “Yeah, yeah, Alicia – I get all that. But what I really need to know is how much salary you will accept.” At that point, I would say the following:
“Well Joe, again, my current salary is $100K. To be honest, I have not arrived at an exact figure. While I do not want to take a pay cut, all I would be asking for is a salary commensurate with my ability and experience. All I’m asking for is a realistic and fair offer. And again, I am more focused on the opportunity than I am on base salary. I am hopeful that we can create a situation where we both benefit.”
Again- try not to tip your hand. But if the interviewer persists- then give him / her a figure. And aim high. And be prepared to justify your request by demonstrating how you are the best possible candidate for the job, and that their higher investment in you will result in a higher reward for them. Salary is the most flexible part of the process, and the more value they see in you, the better your chances are of getting what you want.
Remember- great things happen when two people meet and fall in love.
We’ll explore other compensation negotiation tactics in a later installment.
Please feel free to ask questions or post a comment. We would love to help you!