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Should I ask about my salary at a job interview?

Should I ask about my salary at a job interview?

You really want the job, and you don’t want something trivial to blow your chances - like asking how much you’ll get paid. After all, it’s not about the money, it’s about the job, right?

The truth is, how much the job pays is an excellent indicator of how well you’re suited to it. Sure, you may like the sound of the position, but if you’re expecting to be on more money than they’re willing to offer, then you’re wasting everyone’s time, including your own.

Here’s how to broach this difficult topic during the interview process without putting your foot in your mouth:


Find the right moment.

It should go without saying that asking how much the role pays shouldn’t be something you bring up within the first few minutes of the interview (because you’re there for the job, not the money, remember). But that being said, there’s no rhyme or reason to asking how much a role pays – see how the conversation flows, and if it comes up, it comes up.

But what if it doesn’t come up? If you’ve made it to the end of the interview and there’s still no talk of salaries, most interviewers will ask if you have any questions. Now’s your chance.


Know how much you’re worth.

Before heading along to your interview, it’s worth having a rough idea of the ballpark figure you’re aiming for.

This is a careful balancing act - too low and you come off unconfident; too high and you come off arrogant. The best way to get around this is by using Salary Checker – a free tool that shows how much you should be earning based on your title, location and industry.

If the employer asks you how much you’re looking for, it’s a good idea to slightly overstate the amount you want. Your other options include asking them what they have in mind, or deflecting the question by further demonstrating your interest in the position.


“What did you make in your last position?”

There’s a chance that the interviewer will ask you this rather personal question, and while some people are more than happy to answer it, others are not.

If you do choose to share your most recent salary, be honest – a false figure could lead to problems later down the track.

However, it’s worth bearing in mind that sharing your previous earnings could be a roadblock in the negotiating process. The HR expert, Liz Ryan, points out that “most employers will not hire you in at more than ten percent over your last salary, even if they love you.”

So, if you choose not to answer the question – a response like: “I've always thought that one's salary history is a private matter. But considering my past work experience and skills, I believe a compensation level of (state your salary expectations) would be suitable.”


Be sure to sell yourself.

The most important piece of advice to bear in mind when raising the topic of salary expectations is to be confident. You’ve got the right experience and skills, and you know you’re the type of person they’re looking for, so stick to your guns and don’t be afraid to negotiate.

Remember, if you were to accept a role paying less than you have in mind, chances are you’ll become dissatisfied in the position as a result, which will impact your engagement, performance and overall sense of fulfilment in the role.

While asking how much the job is paying is not always a comfortable conversation to have, remember, your dream job is also a job that pays you what you’re worth.

Here’s how to prepare for competency-based interview questions.

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