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How to Handle the Question “What Salary Are You Seeking?”

If you are looking for the most sensitive question in an interview that has the potential to sway the interview in or against your favor, then this is the question you are searching for. It is not easy to speak about monetary benefits or money without coming across as greedy or desperate or over smart. A simple answer can make or break the career path you have so wisely chosen for yourself.

The question is pretty loaded and has implications for both the employer and the employee, which is the reason why you should tread it very carefully. You may not encounter this question in the very first round of your interview. But you will eventually come across it in successive rounds and hence it would be prudent to keep yourself prepared for answering the same properly.

Let us look at a few things you will have to bear in mind, before answering this question.

  1. Do not answer this question with specific figures, if it is too early on in the interview. The hiring manager is yet to see or hear about your accomplishments and your skill set. When this question is coming up early, it means that they are trying to eliminate based on unrealistic salary demands. Try to answer it generically and do not provide them with a specific number.
  2. Another point that you need to bear in mind is to never sell yourself short. Some of the companies would be fine to employ someone at a cheaper rate but some might just consider that you are too desperate and not look at you as a prospective candidate.
  3. If you price it too high, especially before you get a chance to make an impression, then you are just making yourself on the top of the possible elimination list. It is always better not to name a price until the impression is set and you are ready to negotiate.

Here are some pointers to help you.

Research Thoroughly

Solid evidence is the best way to wade these sensitive waters. You can visit the websites like indeed, glassdoor, etc., to know what rate is offered for similar jobs in other companies in the market. You need to understand the market value of your qualifications and skill sets so that you don’t end up selling yourself short of what you are worth. Also these sites can help you understand the company size, the employee count and much more details on what they currently offer so that you can sound realistic in your approach.

The objective here is to get yourself a salary that is fair to you and the company while not going too low below your standards or your current salary. If you are not able to divert the topic with generic statements, then you will have to give a specific number. That is when the research you have done on the company and the market will come in handy for you to give a range that is reasonable to both.

Delay Strategically

In the opinion of many experts, it is better to put off the question diplomatically for later negotiation. By tactical deployment of delaying the answer you are inevitably putting the pressure on the company. A both genuine and tactical Sample Answer: would be:

“I am looking for an organization where my skills can be of good use. And am sure that the salary you are offering would be as per the current market standards and quite competitive.”

This will urge the company to offer you a package that will help them to earn your respect. You come across sounding confident and positive about yourself. Also when you play hard to put down a figure, you come across as a tough negotiator and they will want to hold on to you by offering a fair compensation.

If you are still pushed for a specific number, you can quote your research and experience and give a range as per the current market conditions and tell them that you expect them to be fair and competitive in industry standards.

Sample Answer: "Based on my research my understanding is that the position is paid approximately 75-90K annually for the kind of requirements demanded of the job."

This will show your professionalism, your aptitude to do a thorough research before embarking on a journey and your preparation. And hence you will be offered a fair package in the market value and they will be open for negotiation.

You can also check out the job requirements before speaking about the salary so that you have a fair idea on what is expected out of you and then you can accordingly respond on the pay package.

Sample Answer: “Given that my current job is not the same as this one, we should discuss on the responsibilities involved in this job and we can discuss on a package beneficial to both of us.”

Turn Around the Question

Another tactic that can come in handy is turning the question around onto the interviewer. Basically, asking them on what is the range they are open to negotiating on and what is their best offer. You can add stating that you would make a perfect addition to their team and you expect your salary to be in line with the current team members of similar positions.

The question is too sensitive and could be a drastic turnaround of events based on your answer. You can quote too low and end up with either no job or a job that pays you lesser than the market. You can quote too high and end up losing the offer as you are considered a high budget cost by the company. The best way is to quote a range as per the current market standings and then negotiate from there on. However, to quote a range, you need to have a fair idea on what is the current trend in the market. So research well and prepare beforehand to ace the question.