Although the question can catch people off guard, it’s not unusual for employers to ask job candidates to reveal their salary expectations early in the interview as part of their screening process, says Matt Durfee, a former corporate Human Resources management executive who now owns and operates Navigator Executive Advisors and the Navigator Institute.
"How you respond can greatly influence whether or not you ultimately receive a job offer that meets your compensation goals or, for that matter, if you receive an offer at all," says Durfee.
While the ideal time to discuss compensation is when you’ve determined the prospective employer is truly serious about extending an offer, you may not have that luxury. If you are asked about your pay requirements early in the interview, first try to reverse the question by asking, “Would you mind giving me an idea of the range for the position?”
Unless the range is significantly below what you would accept, you should let them know it seems fair given what you know about the position so far. If that is unsuccessful, counter by offering a range spanning from your bare minimum to your target goal and add, “It really depends on the responsibilities and scope of the position.”
Web sites such as www.cbsalary.com and www.payscale.com are helpful and can provide valuable insight about the competitive pay range for your profession.
However, never refuse to provide specific details of your current or previous compensation program, says Durfee.
"By doing so, you risk coming across as combative and evasive and it could jeopardize your candidacy," says Durfee. "I literally have ended interviews on the spot when candidates refused to answer my inquiries because I simply couldn’t afford to risk wasting my time – or the time of others in the organization – unless I thought we had a good chance of making an offer the candidate would accept."
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Matt Durfee is a former corporate Human Resources management executive who now owns and operates Navigator Executive Advisors and the Navigator Institute. He can be reached at 407.581.6885.
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