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How to Answer Salary-Related Questions in an Interview

written by: nataliajones•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 9/8/2010

There are a number of questions and answers for an interview regarding salary discussions and this article takes a look at a few of them so you can be better prepared to handle what can be a sticky situation.

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    Salary Negotiation Tips In the interview room, the general rule is "He who states a salary figure first loses the battle." This is why an intricate dance has developed between those who are conducting the interview and those who are being interviewed. Each party understands that to call the first figure concedes defeat in salary negotiations so each side attempts to get the other to go first. Take a look at the questions and answers for an interview regarding salary that are listed in the section below.

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    Questions and Answers for an Interview Regarding Salary Discussions

    Probably the best way to illuminate the salary negotiation process at the interview stage is to present some actual questions and then discuss the best responses.

    How much did you make at your last job?

    When the interviewer asks the salary question in this manner, he is trying to establish a base figure which essentially forces you to make the first move. It might seem difficult to side step such a direct question, but it really is not that difficult to bring the focus back to where you want it to be. A good response to this question can totally avoid mentioning a figure or a range by explaining that while there are a few similarities with your previous position, you also understand that there are some important differences and you would prefer to explore those before jumping straight to salary discussions.

    What are your salary expectations for this position?

    This seems like a fair question and many inexperienced interviewees fall into the trap of naming a salary range. The trouble with this is that if your range is too high, you will be eliminated from further rounds of negotiations and if you range is too low, you will lose on making more money because the interviewer will not offer you more money. You can get away from giving a direct answer by quoting the salary range for the industry (if you have that information) or simply stating that you are certain that the company will be in line with accepted industry standards.

    What salary range would be sufficient to entice you to take this opportunity?

    This is yet another crafty way to get you to name your price, but answering this question will cause you to lose points in the end. It is best to shift the discussion back to the responsibilities of the position and put off talking about money until you have had enough time to convince the interviewer that you are right for the job.

    When faced with any one of the questions above, it is important to remember a few basic negotiating principles. Firstly, in a negotiation, knowledge or information is power so it helps to enter the discussion armed with as much information on pay grades within the company, and even within the industry as possible. Secondly, you should always enter negotiations with the end in mind. In the context of salary negotiations this means that you should decide how much you are willing to accept and establish a bottom line salary, which exploring further would not be profitable. This kind of attitude helps you to structure your responses from a position of strength instead of floundering without an objective in mind.

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