What are your salary requirements? How much are you looking to make? What is your desired pay range? However it may be framed, the “salary question” can bring even the best interview to a crashing halt. But it doesn’t have to!

Here at Masiello Employment, we know a lot of candidates fear this question. It’s easy to worry you might alienate a potential employer by asking for too much, or that you might lose out by asking for too little. In our experience helping folks just like you, we’ve found it’s best to prepare for this question with a confident, comfortable answer. Here are five ways to do just that.

  1. Be Specific. Do your homework before the interview to find the typical salary or salary range for a similar job in the area. If the range seems unreasonably wide, add additional search filters like your level of experience and/or the size of the company you’re interviewing with. Once you get to a number/range that works for you, present it at the interview. It’s best to simply state a reasonable pay range and frame it with a short explanation like, “According to my research, I understand that is typical for this position in the area for someone with my experience.”
  1. Use Your History. If you hold or recently held the same position at a different company in the local area, you can use your corresponding salary as the figure you present. Again, it’s best to simply state a number and frame it with a short explanation like, “It’s what I made in my last role, doing the same job.”
  1. Answer with a Question. If you’re truly unable to answer the question, even if it’s for fear of asking for too much/too little, try to get the interviewer to share the salary range with you. Be honest and say something like, “I’m not able to answer that question, but I can let you know if I’m comfortable with your proposed salary range if you’d be willing to share that with me.”
  1. Focus on Other Priorities. If you can’t directly address the salary question, consider shifting the focus to other areas you feel are just as critical as income. Say something like, “Salary is important, but I’d much rather work with a company I respect, performing duties that reflect my interests and skills.”
  1. Try Honesty & Flattery. If you have no idea how much to request (because you’re interviewing for a position that’s not like your last job, or you can’t find salary comparisons online) try a combination of honesty and flattery. Say something like, “I’m not in a position to answer, but I trust the salary you’ll offer reflects my skills and is competitive in the market.”

A final note about working with recruiters

Recruiters work hard to find appropriate positions based on both job requirements and compensation range – there is an art to striking a balance between employer and employee needs. When looking for jobs, always be open and honest regarding your salary requirements – up front. If the compensation being offered doesn’t align with expectations – it is an unfortunate waste of time and energy to start the interview process. Establish a reasonable salary range for your recruiting teams to work with so that they can match you with appropriate. By doing so, you can better avoid surprises and ensure that your time is well spent interviewing for positions that will work for both you and your potential employer.

Want more interview-acing advice and job-finding insight like this or an up to date assessment of what your skills might bring on the job market? Of course you do! Give Masiello Employment a call; our recruiting team is available for a free consultation and can help you craft a reasonable salary expectation in today’s market.