How to Answer the Question: “What Pay Rate Are You Looking For?”

How to Answer the Question: “What Pay Rate Are You Looking For?”

You’ve spent a lot of time reviewing job descriptions, perfecting your resume, and submitting applications. You’ve even prepared a strong elevator speech and are ready to impress at the interview. Everything is going great until the hiring manager asks you the question that every jobseeker fears: “What are your salary expectations?”

The dreaded “money” question is sure to surface at some point during the interview process and can be complicated to answer. Ask for too much and you may not get an offer. Too little and you end up with less than you deserve. Take a look below for a few tips on properly handling this question and setting yourself up to receive a competitive starting offer.

Do your research

Always do online research and have a solid understanding of market rates before going into an interview. That means looking into what the company is paying their current employees as well as what competitors are offering. You should also look into pay rates for your specific industry and position based on your level of experience. This may take some digging, so be prepared to spend a considerable amount of time on this task.

Postpone the conversation

A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is this: the person who gives away a number first, loses. Of course, this isn’t always true but it’s a good mindset to adapt in learning to negotiate. When the interviewer asks about the salary you want, do your best to delay the conversation by focusing instead on fit. For instance, you could say, “I’m negotiable depending on the range you’re offering. My first priority is finding a position that’s a good fit for my skills and interests.”

Avoid discussing your current pay rate

A hiring manager may come about the salary question from a different angle by asking what you were making at your current or last position. Again, do your best to deflect this question by focusing instead on the responsibilities of the position in question. You could say, “I would prefer to discuss what my responsibilities at this company will be and work together to determine a fair salary for this position.”

Share the top third of the salary range

If the hiring manager continues to press you for a pay rate and you’re unable to deflect any longer, give the top third of your salary range. Just remember to keep the door open for further negotiation. As an example, if you’re looking for a range between 45-60K you could say, “I’m being considered for positions in the range of 55 to 60, but I’m negotiable.” Another tactic is to rely on facts found during your research. You could respond with, “According to my research, my understanding is that 55-60K per year is typical based on the role and requirements.”

Navigating the tricky salary requirement question is no easy task, however by going into the interview with a strategy you’ll be better prepared to walk away with a competitive offer and the job you really want.


Posted on October 17, 2016

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