It comes up in an online application (leave it blank), a phone screen, first interview and on the part of the pre-screener (recruiter) in their first conversation with you, and after all interviewing is done.
Why? MOST of the time the company wants to assure that your needs and their needs are in the same ballpark. No one in a company wants to take time to interview people who are off the mark, from a “match” or money perspective. No one wants to be used for “informational interviewing” purposes…on either side.
So what are you to do?
There are as many answers to this question as there are former-HR interviewers in the world.
Here are some simple answers:
Current and/or previous salary?:
1) Be HONEST, about previous or current income. If your previous or current income is NOT of major consequence to be matched (there are people), then state that along with your answer. But state why (besides the fact that you are desperate for a job). Be sure that your explanation holds water (logical) and is not indicative of wanting to do less of a job or give less of an effort.
2) Think it through: If your finances and living situation allow you to trade an interesting job for money, and that is your goal, make sure the person you are dealing with knows that and why. Nothing is worse than a hiring authority thinking that you will accept $X now, but will be looking to better-deal that one minute after being employed.
3) If you KNOW you were paid MORE (or are) than the company you are interviewing with pays, then say so. Having lost your job does NOT mean that you will have to take a massive pay cut to be re-employed…unless you worked at a unique company or in an over-paid job (GM, BP, Goldman). There are MANY companies that pay WAY ABOVE an average.
4) “Bonuses” were just that: “Extra Money” not a part of your salary. Live with that. They were for doing (hopefully) more than what was expected in the job you were in. In the last several years “Bonuses” were that you were remaining employed, unless you were in an unusual company.
Interviewer: “So, what (kind of) salary or money are you looking for?”
Answer: “Mr. Jones: I have taken a thorough look at the function and the goals you wish me to perform and accomplish and I have no doubt that I will exceed those goals (restate the position’s goals/ department goals) based upon my experiences and abilities (delve into EXACTLY what you have accomplished in the past, and how that translates to HOW you will attack and exceed goals/ expectations for THIS employer). Therefore, I am sure that I can make ABC Company very happy. I do NOT know what salary you have in mind for a person like myself, but I believe you and ABC Company will be more than fair, so if you are ready to make an offer, I am certain we will have no problems.”
The idea is to get them to tip their hat first. But if they won’t or they hesitate, try this next:
“If you are not yet at the stage of making your best offer first (and last), then what is it about my background and expertise that I can clarify for you?”
If the hot potato still comes back to you, and you have the backbone to try one more parry, use this:
“I have been very pleased with our relationship to date Mr. Jones: What would you advise me to do?”
Yes, the person could in fact come back with :”I’d advise you to give me a figure that I can work with”.
Sweat a little, and respond with a reasonable ballpark set of numbers.
Not all repartee will end with you winning. The above has been designed and used with success at an executive level AND at a lower-white collar level, where the salary (or wage) has NOT been pre-determined.
How to deal very effectively with the question of salary is almost like playing golf: what club (response) you should use depends upon many factors that can change rather constantly. Each circumstance will be different. There is one constant however: If you have not positioned yourself to show and prove your VALUE (ability to hit company goals), the ability to command top money is lost, or even an offer.
(772 words. 1 minute 47 seconds)