Answering the salary expectation question right might be the wrong answer.
There is one, and only one, time to discuss salary in any detail: when they say they’re ready to make you an offer.
What if the employer asks about it before they’ve made you an employment offer?
You’ll want to answer because we are all rewarded in school for answering questions. We eagerly raise our hands and offer whatever information we can. But in salary negotiations, if you give the “right” (factual) answer, you’ll often be giving the “wrong” answer — the answer that costs you money.
Why wrong? The usual outcome of talking too soon about salary is that you get screened out, or you get screened in but lowballed.
Delay disclosing your salary expectations until you know you’re on the short list.
At the start of the interview process you don’t have enough information to know what the job’s worth or what its potential could be. You could agree to a smaller salary than the job is worth.
If you don’t lowball yourself and you aren’t eliminated outright, you may be eliminated later when it comes down to two candidates and it turns out you cost more.
Wait until they’re serious about hiring you. And when are you sure they’re serious? When they make you an offer.
Postponing the answer without upsetting your interviewer requires tact. To put off answering the salary expectation question, you’ll need your own personalized phrase: something you can say with confidence and that sounds like you.
Having that statement well prepared and rehearsed can gain you thousands of dollars.
Read other installments in this series:
Part 1: Salary Negotiation Tips: Thou Shalt Not Speak Too Soon
Part 2: Salary Negotiation Tips: Thou Shalt Not Regret Salary Disclosure
Part 3: Salary Negotiation Tips: Let the Employer Make the First Salary Offer
Part 4: Salary Negotiation Tips: Thou Shalt Not Agree
Part 5: Salary Negotiation Tips: Know How Much Money You’re Worth
Part 6: Salary Negotiation Tips: Thou Shalt Covet Thine Own Benefits and Perks
Part 7: Salary Negotiation Tips: This Is the Job Thou Coveteth
Part 8: Salary Negotiation Tips: Thou Shalt Not Worry about Earthly Economy
Part 9: Salary Negotiation Tips: Thou Shalt Not Take the Name of Thy Salary in Vain
Part 10: Salary Negotiation Tips: Honor Thy Wealth and Prosperity