What to Do When You Are Asked About Salary in a Job Interview


Job interviewers may ask you what your ideal salary is or what you have made in the past. This type of question helps them gauge whether they can afford to hire you; however, unless you know exactly what salary they intend to offer you risk naming a figure that is too low or too high. To avoid salary problems after you are hired, you might want to dodge this question.

Avoid Answering Directly

Salary.com recommends against naming your ideal salary in a job interview. If you answer with a lower number than your prospective employer expected, he may think he can give you less than you are worth and will have an upper hand in negotiation proceedings. On the other hand, if you give too high a number, your employer may pass you up because you are too expensive. Salary.com says you can avoid this problem by giving a general answer such as, "I'd like to get paid the fair market value for this job."

Be Courteous

Your salary requirements, and particularly your salary history, are not really your interviewer's business. However, it will not do you any good to say so directly; you may be perceived as rude or unprofessional. If you are asked about salary, you can politely decline to answer with a statement such as, "I'd rather talk about that after I'm hired," or by giving a general answer rather than naming a specific figure.

Resist Pressure

Employers may pressure you to give them a specific figure. They want to know at the outset how much it will cost the company to hire you, and when you refuse to answer they cannot evaluate your cost. You may have to learn several polite ways to defer requests for salary information, such as stating that you can't decide until you know more about the job or that your previous salary history is not relevant.


Salary.com says that refusing to discuss salary at the interview stage can make you more attractive to employers. The more you refuse to discuss salary, the more professional you appear, and employers feel you are more interested in the job than the money and will want to hire you regardless of the cost to them. Once you are hired, you will be able to negotiate a better salary because of your perceived worth to the company.

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