How To Postpone Salary Talk: Part 1
Because you only want to discuss salary once you’ve been offered the job, you need to postpone salary talk if it comes up earlier in the interview. So,when asked about your salary expectations, give one of the following responses:
- I’m sure we’ll come to a good agreement if I’m the right person for the job, so let’s first agree on that.
- Salary? Well, from what I’ve heard so far, the job has the right level of responsibility for me. And I’m sure you pay a fair salary, don’t you? So let’s hold off on that until you know you want me. What other areas should we discuss now?
- Are you offering me the job?
The Preemptive Strike
You can also diffuse the need to specify your salary expectations in the following way. At a point in the interview at which they seem enthusiastic, say, “I know it’s too early to talk about compensation, but I wonder if you can give me a rough idea of the range you were thinking of with regard to this position?”
Then, regardless of what they answer, say, “Thank you. I’m confident I’m the right person for this position and that we can agree to a salary that works.” Then, focus back on the main topics of the interview.
What If They Get Angry With Me?
If you are trying to defer answering about salary, but they keep insisting, soften the phrases:
- I always feel awkward discussing salaries…
- I know you’re eager…
- When we discuss money up front, I’m worried I’ll get screened out…
Acknowledge they are asking, and politely ask them why it’s important to discuss salary now. Is it screening? Are they worried whether they can afford you?
What if they get angry? But what if they’re impressed instead?
During the interview, listen to the description of the company and of the position. Make mental notes of the ways you could solve their problems.
If you do a good job interviewing, refuse to talk about salary, and focus on what you might be able to do for the company, you might be offered a better, higher position. It makes it worthwhile to interview for positions you are overqualified for.
How To Postpone Salary Talk: Part 2
If you are asked what you were getting paid before, answer with one of the following:
- I’m paid very fairly, and I’m sure I would be paid fairly for this position as well. Let’s keep talking to ensure I’m the one you want.
- It doesn’t matter what I was making before! What matters is how much you’re going to pay me!
- [Simply ignore the request and move on to something else]
- It’s a clear principle of mine not to negotiate salary up front. If we’re going to work together, we’ll have to respect each other’s principles. Now, let’s see how I can help you make some money.
- [When asked by a human resources representative:] I don’t have to answer that, do I? [You usuallyy don't, but they have to ask.]
- I’m sure we can come to an agreement when the time comes.
- Don’t worry about salary. I know I need to make you more money than I cost. I’ll make sure the fit is right.
- I don’t want to appear difficult. I understand you might want to make sure you can afford me, but it’s a principle of mine not to discuss salary yet, because it can throw us off track. What’s really important is whether I’m right for the job.
- Well, salary is currently about number 3 on my list of priorities. Number 1 is making sure we can work together, and I’d rather concentrate on that for now.
- [The same kind of strategy can be applied if you are negotiating a raise, and you are offered a small raise to cover increases in the cost of living. You can then respond with:] I don’t want to discuss raises right now. First, let’s make sure our goals match up.
- [If you've omitted your salary history from an application:] I will tell you my salary history in a sec, but first I want to explain why I excluded it from my application. The reason is that I didn’t think it would help you in making an offer to me. I’ve had consulting work that would annualize to $250,000 per year, and I’ve worked at $40,000-a-year jobs to cover the rent. I’ve done salary research relevant to this position so I don’t think we’ll have much problem with salary when that time comes.
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