Salary Questions

What’s the best way to handle a question about salary during an initial interview or phone screen? I try never discuss salary initially but it seem more and more companies are bringing it up, especially during the phone screen.

I have many friends in the industry and do a lot of research to get a feel for the range a position should pay. It never fails that when I answer this question the pay range is always 20% less then what I stated. I’m starting to think that this is the start of HR trying to lowball you before they even bring you in.

After I answer this question the interview usually get kind of weird because I have to explain that Salary is just one part of the compensation package and I will look at benefits, vacation, bonuses, etc… in determining an appropriate compensation package.

So how do you answer this question? My goal is to get in front of the hiring manager and not have to dig my self out of a hole while talking to the HR Rep who knows next to nothing about the position you are discussing

You can say “It doesn’t make much sense for me to leave my current position for less than X” The other thing you need to get them to do is to define the job responsibilities, and then say “Y is a fair compensation range for the type of work you want me to do and my level of qualifications/experience.” If there is any additional work on top of that… ca-ching… premium! That’s why it’s really important to get them to define the job responsibilities. And remember… if you say a number, and then they pile on a lot of extra responsibilities, you can change your number… “when I told you X, we were talking about a position that doesn’t require skills A, B, and C, which you clearly need and I have. A job that requires that needs to pay Y”). The only time you should say “I make X and therefore I require X+Y% to move” is if you are currently overpaid. Otherwise, tie compensation to the work description and your skill set (and the market rate you’ve researched). HR tends to force people to say a number, and the first person to say a number generally gets the worse deal. But HR often has more power in the early phases, unless you are truly a hot commodity. Your first number should be “the highest defensible number for the work required,” because they will almost never go above your first number unless you have multiple offers. “Highest defensible” doesn’t need to be “most reasonable,” it just needs to pass the laugh test.