By Marc Basil | October 14, 2017


Interviewing is an inherently imperfect process. It is stressful, time consuming and can often be derailed by any number of details—one of them being the topic of salary.

One of the (many) areas a competent recruiter is trusted to broker between a candidate and hiring company is that of compensation, as one of the cardinal sins that often gets committed is bringing two parties deep into the hiring process only to find out that salary simply will not work.

No one wants their time wasted.

So, how as a candidate do you tackle compensation in an interview when there is no recruiter involved in the process? This is a topic that has been discussed as long as people have been interviewing and there are several schools of thoughts. Keep in mind there is no “one size fits all” approach. There are, however, some useful guidelines you can follow. Take a look at the 3 tips below.

1. Be Honest. 
While there has been significant debate nationally, as of late, concerning a company’s right to inquire about an individual’s current compensation, this remains a verifiable piece of data. As a candidate, when you complete an application and indicate that you current compensation is X, the hiring organization (almost universally) will verify that data as part of its due diligence. If the goal is to “inflate” your current salary with the hopes of negotiating a higher offer, this is a dangerous path with often times devastating results.

2. Remember What Your Motivation Is. 
Of course, compensation is often a significant driver when an individual begins to consider a new opportunity. However, if is the ONLY driver, my recommendation would be to open a respectful dialogue with your current company concerning what you are being paid. If everything else in your current situation is making sense with the exception of compensation, you owe it to yourself and your company to discuss that before you go out and start interviewing.

3. Set Clear Expectations. 
There is a difference between what I make today and what I want to make tomorrow—and that’s OK. Again, your current compensation is a verifiable piece of information, much like dates of employment on a resume. Where this begins to get tricky is how to handle the question concerning compensation EXPECTATIONS. As a general rule, I am confident that the overwhelming majority of companies out there want to pay people fairly in the very same fashion that job candidates want to be paid fairly. There are several candidates with whom I work who rank/prioritize compensation lower than many other attributes of their job search, such as location, the opportunity to advance, becoming aligned with the correct corporate culture, etc. With that, often times the best way to address compensation is by letting the hiring company know that, while salary (and benefits) are certainly very important, so are a myriad of other attributes that the interviewing process will help each party better discover.

Do you have any other tips to add regarding discussing salary during an interview? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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