By Jim Wong, CPA | March 7, 2018


When it comes to the job interview process, there are many factors that go into preparing for an interview. From practicing your responses for specific questions to picking an appropriate outfit, this process requires plenty of time and attention.

As if that’s not enough to focus on, how about adding in the concept of compensation?

For many hopeful job seekers, the interview is made even more stressful when the hiring manager asks you to tell them about your compensation history.

This seemingly harmless question can catch job seekers off-guard if they’re not prepared.

While there’s debate around the ethics of asking compensation history, it’s important for job seekers to understand the best way to take on this question. I’ve discussed this topic before and wanted to share some more helpful tips on the subject.

Learn the 4 Tips for Discussing Compensation in a Job Interview below.

1. Know the Role 
If you’re questioned on your compensation expectations, it may be wise to inform the hiring manager that you’d like to learn more about the role before discussing salary. By requesting more information on the role before making compensation estimates – you are showing genuine interest in the role itself while preventing yourself from blurting any impulsive or unsure answers.

When it comes to filling out a number in an online job application or form, remember that it’s okay to leave it blank. You can then further elaborate on this action in a cover letter. One of the ways to voice this is by saying, “I look forward to discussing compensation once I’ve learned more about the position.”

2. Consider Salary Range
Instead of giving a concrete number, perhaps you could suggest a salary range that the exact number falls within. Giving a salary range allows for a job seeker to use discretion when asked about compensation history. One note of caution, often times when a range is provided the recruiter or hiring manager only hears the lowest number in the range. As a result, when providing a range make sure the low number on the range is acceptable to you.

3. Know Your Worth
It’s important to understand market value, and whether or not you are being compensated fairly given the competitive job market. If a job seeker knows they are underpaid in their current role, there’s no harm in mentioning that in an interview—if prompted. You can look online for various salary guides that give job seekers insight into what the standard salaries are for similar positions. It’s essential for job seekers to be aware of their market value and leverage that information properly when discussing compensation history.

4. Be Honest
It’s not uncommon for a company to verify a candidate’s compensation history with former employers. For this reason, avoid any exaggeration when it comes to voicing your current and previous salaries to a hiring manager – be honest! It’s good to be straightforward and perfectly OK to say you’re looking to increase your salary within your new role.

These are just a few of the ways to discuss salary during a job interview. Do you have other pointers? Comment below and let us know.


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