Perfecting Your Answer to the Important Salary Question

Answering "what is your target salary" during an interview can be tricky.  You don't want to come off as greedy, but you don’t want to appear uncertain of your true value.

Gabriel Lucas

Apr 26, 2022

Perfecting Your Answer to the Important Salary Question

However, the main reason this question is difficult for some candidates is simple: they don’t anticipate it. When asked this question you don't always need to share a target salary right away.  Instead you can explain that you would like to learn more about the position first and gently turn the tables around to see whether there is an internal salary range.  When sharing your target salary, if you aim too high an employer might assume you don't have a grasp on reality, and if you aim too low you may give off the impression that you're underqualified.  Like employers, candidates don’t have to give hard numbers but could give softer or more abstract ranges.  Some candidates share their current salary and subtly dodge the target salary question, to send the implicit message that they don’t want to take a pay cut.  This strategy only works if you feel your present salary generally approximates your current market value.  Before an interview, spend some time researching the organization you're applying for, reflecting on your situation — that is, your skills, experiences, and future salary needs — as well as doing a little comparative market analysis.  How you handle yourself during this question matters as much as the exact answer you give, and the last thing you want to do is shoot yourself in the foot after an otherwise great interview.

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