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What Wage Are You Seeking?

This is a tricky job interview question. Go too low and you’ll have a job with low pay, go too high and you might price yourself out of the job. Keep in mind at this point it’s an interview question, not a salary negotiation. But be aware that this answer may influence the later salary negotiation stage.

Research the market, both for the job and for a person of your skills and experience, to determine a reasonable salary expectation. A great way to answer the question is to provide a salary range based on the research you’ve done, and on the range given for the job or of other employees at the company.

Another tack to take is to wait for a job offer and salary negotiation to discuss salary. At this point, the interview, put off the question:

“My salary expectations are open based on the position, responsibilities, and total compensation package.”

Or even the direct route. “I expect when we discuss salary it will be within the range of salaries for this type of position in the industry. But that’s really all I want to say about it right now.”

Once salary negotiations do begin, that research you’ve done will come in handy. If you’re desperate for a job, take the first offer. But if you have some time and flexibility, and money in the bank, don’t jump at the first offer. It’s not the highest they’re willing to go.

“That’s a good offer, let me take some time to consider it.”

Consider too that sometimes a flat no can result in a higher compensation offer. A tried and true negotiation tactic is to feign disinterest. “Well, at that salary at this point, I’ll just have to say no.” The best time to look for a job can be when you don’t really need one. Without trying you’ll be saying no, looking for excuses not to take the new job. Some people have received their highest salary when they didn’t even want the job. Eventually the company made the offer too good to refuse.

The bottom line is the interview is not the best time to discuss salary. The interviewer knows that, and won’t push for more information. Answer this interview question wisely. Wisdom in this case is no direct answer.

One job seeker came up with a clever answer to this question. “How much have you got?”

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