Whether you are a candidate looking at an exciting opportunity or a hiring manager looking to make a job offer, the topic of salary almost feels taboo. So, should salary be discussed in an interview?
Here we take this question head-on and reveal when and how to raise salary in the interview process.
Before negotiating salary
Whichever side of the table you will be sitting on, you need to be prepared and do your salary research. For an employee to be compensated fairly, you need to find out information such as the starting salary for the role, average salary, and the top-end wage. This process is called salary benchmarking.
On the side of the interviewee, think past salary only and be prepared to consider other benefits, such as more paid time off, job satisfaction, or greater company pension contributions, which will help your retirement plans.
As a general rule, a candidate should not offer up a specific figure or salary range but shouldn’t be evasive if asked. Where possible, let the hiring manager start salary negotiations and give you a figure.
Remember, you don’t need to accept the first pay offer. The compensation package is a discussion.
Resources for hiring managers
If you are a hiring manager looking for recruitment solutions or preparing for your first interview, these resources and articles will be invaluable:
- How to use a structured interview format
- How to interview candidates
- Key interview questions to ask candidates
- Questions not to ask in interviews
- How to conduct remote interviews
- Job description template
- Job advert template
- Flat fee recruitment solutions
Timing discussing salary
We don’t recommend raising salary questions in an initial phone screening interview or in a first interview. Here it would be best if you were looking to highlight your skills and explain why you are the ideal candidate.
In most cases, the second interview is the time to talk money. It would help if you made it clear that you are interested in the job and highlight skills and strengths before you begin to negotiate salary.
Your salary expectations should be flexible, and you can start the salary discussion by providing a salary range. Ultimately, fair pay means the required salary is acceptable to both candidate and the prospective employer.
It is best to have a good understanding of the current market and the roles of the position before discussing topics such as past salary, current salary, and future salary requirements.
Resources for candidates
If you are a candidate on the job search or preparing to answer interview questions, you will find these resources helpful:
Research the salary range
As a potential employer, it usually falls to you to start discussing salary in a job interview. It is best to accurately assess wages for the position prior to a phone screening interview or first interview. When you research salaries, consider the budget of your company and the average salary for the role in your industry.
Preparing a salary range will put you in a solid position to discuss money when interviewing candidates. You might want to consider including a question such as ‘what is your salary expectation,’ on your application form.
As an employer, you will then be able to assess if you can meet the compensation expectations of the applicant. You will save time and money by not interviewing individuals you cannot afford. You also know that the people who complete this information in the job application form will be ready to accept the job offers you make.
Discussing your salary expectations during a job interview
The traditional salary discussion mindset
The traditional thinking on how to negotiate salary is the hiring manager brings up the salary question first, usually towards the end of the first or second interview. When most employers instigate a money conversation, it is because they have made the decision to hire and want to make sure both parties are on the same page at this point in the hiring process.
The traditional mindset on how to negotiate a salary works well for a junior position and when candidates do not have a lot of job experience.
On the candidate side, you may get lucky and receive a job offer that meets or exceeds your expectations. If the money offer does not meet your expectations, you shouldn’t write the employer off and instead begin to negotiate your starting salary.
The best approach to how to negotiate salary is to have researched the company, the industry, and average remuneration for the job. Armed with this information, you can confidently discuss a higher salary.
The new mindset on discussing salary
Our career advice for candidates is your job search will be successful if you believe in yourself, your skills, and your prior successes. It helps to decide how much you feel you are worth, before you begin a job search and first job interview.
But, what does this career advice mean? If you want to earn more money, stop thinking that you are a job seeker looking to work for the company in question. Instead, present yourself to the company as a professional and expert in the industry or role.
Salary negotiation interview tips for candidates
You must be honest and truthful with employers when handling interview questions and answers. Confidence when answering good interview questions and salary discussions do not mean talking to the hiring manager of the company with an inflated ego or sense of entitlement.
Do your interview preparation so you know what a good job offer is. Don’t ask about salary at the very start or leave until the point that the employers meeting is over.
If you are going through a multi-interview process, the best moment to raise salaries is just before the second meeting. It is perfectly acceptable and not rude to ask about salary when the company calls you, moving forward the process and asking you to come in for another meeting.
Possible answers to what is your current salary?
These are easy questions to ask in an interview but hard to answer. If you are searching for a higher salary and don’t want to reveal your current pay, you could answer as follows:
- To be honest, I don’t think my current employee was able to pay me fairly for my skills and experience. The role had different responsibilities, and the company had its own budget and salary guidelines. I am now focusing on other job offers in the range of X.
Salary negotiation FAQs
Here are the answers to your money negotiation questions:
You can talk about money in an interview and when to have this discussion depends on the recruitment process. Pay is usually raised towards the end of the primary consultation, in a single meeting hiring process. Where multiple rounds are in place, raise the topic during the call back phone call or during the second meeting.
Remember that compensation is a discussion, and you should research salaries to put yourself in an informed and confident position.
It is not rude to ask about pay if you raise the topic at the right time. Focus on conveying your strengths, skills, and experience ahead of talking about money.
Talk to an employer about pay at the end of the interview or during a call to ask you to come in for a second meeting.
Most employers expect to talk about pay during the hiring process, so you should do your research and follow these tips:
1. Investigate what the salary trends are for your industry and job title.
2. Determine your baseline pay and recognise that you probably will not be happy in the role over the long run if you can’t get this.
3. Be honest and do not try to deceive the potential employer. State a pay range that you are interested in, and remember, pay should reflect the skills you bring and the performance you offer.
4. Be ready to negotiate. The best interview techniques for compensation is to consider other benefits, such as paid holiday, hours flexibility, or remote working, which can create a package that is worth considering and accepting.
You can formulate a response that directs the conversation away from your previous salary and onto a range that reflects fair compensation for your abilities, qualifications, skills, and experience.