How to Avoid Bringing Salary Up Too Soon in a Job Interview

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Posted by The Editors on September 23, 2011
How to Avoid Bringing Salary Up Too Soon in a Job Interview

There's no telling when the salary discussion may come up in an interview, but bringing up your desired salary too soon could be a risky move. It's important that your are able to present yourself, your abilities, and what you can contribute to the company before your pricetag.

Employers want to get a sense of your salary expectations as early in the job interview process as possible. They will often press you to name a specific salary number or salary range. Avoid this for several reasons:

  1. If you name a figure in response to a question about your salary expectations, it could be well above what the employer had in mind, and your interviewer’s thoughts will shift to another candidate.
  2. If the figure is too low, you’ll be stuck with less than what the employer was planning to pay—and you may even come off as less qualified to boot.
  3. The employer knows the responsibilities of the job better than you and therefore is better qualified to assign it a dollar amount. Once that happens, you are in an excellent position to discuss why you could bring more to the position than someone else.

Here is an example of how to avoid naming the salary first—even when explicitly challenged by the employer to do so:

Employer: Do you have a minimum salary figure in mind?

Candidate: I have several opportunities I’m considering, and each one is a little bit different, so I'm taking all of the circumstances into account. Would you mind giving me some idea of the salary range for this position?

In most cases, a hiring manager isn’t going to drop you from consideration just because you dodge the initial salary question successfully. In fact, you may have a better chance at getting the job offer in the end because you had the opportunity to go through your value-increasing presentation first; other candidates who name a salary early in the interview process may never get the chance to present themselves fully, because the manager may be turned off after hearing their asking price.


For more information on negotiating a salary and reviewing an employer's benefits package, purchase Negotiating Your Salary and Perks Insider Guide.

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