13 Apr

How to Address Salary in an Interview

Posted by Jamie Dargie

Think back to the last interview you had. Maybe it was recent or maybe it’s been a while. Either way, the interviewer may have asked you about salary or salary expectations

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If you didn’t know how to respond to this question, it may have cost you the job. If you’re on the job hunt right now or thinking about applying, you need to know how to address this question when it comes up in an interview.


It’s Not Illegal

First, some misunderstandings should be cleared up. It’s not illegal for an interviewer to ask about salary during an interview, though it isn’t considered ideal to do so. Many people tell candidates they should avoid asking about salary, and many instruct interviewers to do the same. 

In some places in the United States, it is illegal for the interviewer to ask about your current or past salaries. Rules against asking about salary history are required to prevent companies from reducing salary offers. 

Why would anyone do that? There are many reasons, but the first is to save the company money. If you’re only making $30,000 at your current job, then the job offer you receive may be for $35,000, not the $40,000 the company would pay another candidate or the person currently in the job. 

This is a form of discrimination. Since women and other minorities often hold lower-paying jobs, it also unfairly targets them for lower and unequal salaries. Equal pay for equal work is legislated in Canada.


Asking the Question

As much as interviewers are discouraged to ask, “What is your current salary?”, many will still ask in one way or another. They might ask about salary expectations instead. You may base your expectations based on what you’re currently making. This makes a question about salary expectations a roundabout way of getting at your salary history. 

You should be prepared for an interviewer to ask you this type of question. How can you address the salary question when it comes up in an interview?


Know What to Look for

The first step in preparing for the salary question is to know what to look for. As mentioned, the most obvious way is for the interviewer to ask about what you’re making currently. They might also ask about salary expectations or something similar.

If you know the forms this question takes, you’re less likely to be caught off guard when it comes up.


Do Your Research

Before you go into your interview, you have some research to do. While you’re aware you need to research the company, you should also be looking at the particular job you’re applying for. In addition to looking up similar roles and responsibilities, take a look at average salary ranges.

When the interviewer brings up salary, you can break out the information you researched. This way you don’t need to reveal what you currently make or what you’ve been paid in the past. This information also helps you evaluate job offers when they arrive. Is the employer offering you what appears to be the going rate?


Provide a Range

One thing you should do when the salary question arises in an interview is to provide a range. You probably won’t tell the interviewer what you expect down to the last cent but saying “around $40,000” will likely be noted down as “$40,000.”

Providing a range opens the floor to negotiations. You’re looking for a salary between two points. Don’t forget to address total compensation as well. The employer may not have the most competitive salary, but they may have a great benefits package that provides much more.

With these tips in hand, you can expertly handle the salary question.


Topics: Job Search

Jamie Dargie

Jamie is responsible for leading, developing, and executing the vision, strategy, and business objectives for Eastern Canada, including Toronto and Montreal. A recruitment expert across three continents for over 20 years, Jamie possesses deep industry knowledge having run multi-disciplinary teams for international and domestic recruitment campaigns within contingent search and workforce management for RPO and MSP projects.

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