The two job interview salary questions that cause job seekers great anxiety are: What are your salary expectations for this position? How much money do you make at your current/last job?
You know that any question focused on money (past or present) is an indicator that employers want to know if they can pay you and how much can be offered. It is normal to fear that if you say a number that is too low, you will leave money on the table, and if you say a number that is too high, you may lose this opportunity.
So what should you do?
How to answer “what are your salary expectations for this position?”
The good news is that if they ask you this question, they are thinking about offering you the job.
Answer #1: Smile and ask “Does this mean they would like to offer me the job?”
Answer #2: Ask, “What is the salary range for this position?” When they answer, you can say “I’m comfortable with that. If we decide that I am a good fit for this job, I will agree to discuss a salary within that range.”
Response #3: “I’m more interested in whether I fit the profile they’re looking for. I am confident that they will offer me a salary that is appropriate for the job responsibilities.”
Keep your focus on selling yourself for the job. If they don’t want to hire you, they really have nothing to discuss.
Here’s the caveat to any salary discussion: Every situation is different. That’s why there are several different options for each question. You’ll have to decide what the situation calls for, and what makes you comfortable. The more you research the company’s salary levels ahead of time, the easier it will be to answer these questions.
In general, how can you answer salary questions in the interview?
Goal #1: Deflect
Your biggest goal, with any of these questions, is to give no answer at all. Throughout the interview process, try to avoid any discussion of money or salary for as long as possible, and never, ever bring up the topic of money by asking about the salary for the position. The ideal scenario involves them coming to love and want you for the job before having any salary discussions, because then your bargaining position is stronger.
You also may need to know how to answer “how much money do you make at your current/last job?”
“My previous position is different than this one, so I don’t see how my past salary is relevant to this case. But what I really want to do is answer all your questions about my skills and qualifications to see if you agree that I am the right person for the job. I am confident that if I am the right fit, we can come to an agreement on compensation. I am very excited about the possibility of working here.”
Ask, “What is the salary range you have for this position?” When they answer, you can say, “I’m comfortable with that. If they offer me a salary within that range, I’m not going to decline the offer because of a money issue.”
Tell them how much you make at your current job. In most cases, what they really want to know is if they can pay you. If you have done your homework and know what a reasonable offer is for this position, in this geographic location, you will know if they are offering you a salary that is too low. You can always negotiate a higher salary (based on your research) after you have the offer in hand.