By Jim Wong, CPA | March 15, 2017

When it comes to the job interview process, there are many factors that go into preparing for an interview. From practicing your responses to situation-based questions to picking an appropriate outfit to rehearsing your accomplishments, the process can be daunting and requires plenty of time and attention.

So, 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 and can leave them unsure of how exactly to answer.

While there is some debate surrounding the ethics of asking compensation history, it’s always good for job seekers to know how to answer the question in an appropriate way. I recently came across a Forbes article that discusses this topic and wanted to share a few tips.

Learn the 4 Ways to Discuss Salary In A Job Interview below.

1. Learn more about the role first. 
One of the tips in the Forbes article was to let the hiring manager or recruiter know that you would like to learn more about the role before discussing salary. This is certainly a possible option. When it comes to filling out a number in an online job application or form, the author suggests leaving it blank or entering zero, only to further elaborate on salary 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. Think of 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. Consider your value. 
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 understand their market value and leverage that information properly when discussing compensation history.

4. Be honest.
Job seekers should know that more likely than not, a company will verify their compensation history with former employers. Rather than exaggerating salary history, know that it will likely be verified for accuracy. It’s good to be straightforward with a hiring manager or recruiter, in order to keep everyone on the same page. It’s 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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