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When and how to mention your salary expectations in the interview

Here are a few ideas about one of the toughest parts of interviewing for a new position – the salary negotiation. Interviewing is full of important decisions, careful preparations for meetings, phone calls and follow-up correspondence, checking and supplying one’s own references – and more. But one of the trickiest elements in the interview process is certainly salary. We can’t forget that can we, especially since this may be why we are looking to make a move in the first place. But even if it isn’t, we do not want to change jobs without an advance in salary.

A salary increase is how our years on the job are reflected and rewarded. This is how our system works. Salary is so important, and it will become the platform on which raises in both this position, and future ones, are based. But – surprise – in many books and articles we are even told not to bring up salary at all in our interview meetings. How and when do I talk about it? What a dilemma!

I suggest you try to remember back when you were hired into your current job? Often candidates are asked their current salary and their expectations – and then a sum is announced by the interviewer. A real negotiation never takes place. Is this what happened with your current or last employer? You realize now that this is where you lost money – money which could have been yours had the discussion gone differently. I personally have found the best approach, if you are asked for your salary expectations, is to respond with the question, “What is the salary range for the position?” In most cases, you will then get an indication of the salary range and you can decide if you are wasting your time – or if the role fits with your salary needs and expectations.

This is why it may be prudent for you yourself to raise the subject of salary in the final interview, and to do it in a subtle way like so: “Thanks a lot for all our meetings. I am happy that you said you feel I am qualified for the position – and that you could imagine working with me – and I feel the same. However, we did not talk about salary yet, and I leave it to you to start this discussion. Just for your information: I am currently at $80,000, and when I make a move I would like an increase. I’m at your disposal to discuss this.” By the way, if you work with a recruiter on this position, he/she will do the negotiation for you— and will tell his/her client “my candidate will not sign for this salary. As I told you, 85k should be the minimum.”

In conclusion, it is well for us to remember that the last time you really talk on eye-level with your boss is during the interview process. Consequently, always give a salary range. It is said that 80 percent of candidates give too low salary expectations, and very few go to the upper limit. This can be costly, and a situation that is most difficult to reverse.

Do not talk about salary before your hiring authority has made it clear that he/she wants to hire you, and you want to work for her/ him. But then don’t be afraid to state a salary expectation a bit higher than the figure mentioned by the employer. This takes courage, but it will allow for negotiation, and the opportunity to back down, should the employer hold firmly to his high figure – and you want the position. Good luck in your negotiations!

Philip Kemper is Founder/President of Kemper Associates, a 38 year old Chicago-based national executive search firm, specializing in Permanent and Contract staffing for Trade Shows and Exhibits, Staging and Equipment Rental, Business Meetings and Events Production, Video, Training and Incentives and more .His more complete bio is on LinkedIn at: . You may view Kemper Associates’ web site at: , and contact Phil with questions or comments, and employment needs at:, or his private phone line: (312) 944-6551.

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