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How do you handle the dreaded salary requirements question when interviewing?

Jr Mouse

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Personally, I am of the belief it's never a good idea to be the first to talk numbers. You should always make the company give you a range before you say anything and then use that information to your advantage.

As this often comes up, I'm curious how everyone else handles it.
 

Egert

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Originally Posted by JMRouse
Personally, I am of the belief it's never a good idea to be the first to talk numbers. You should always make the company give you a range before you say anything and then use that information to your advantage. As this often comes up, I'm curious how everyone else handles it.
That depends on whether you are already working while interviewing or not. If you already work in the field, then obviously you have no issues to tell your number. For instance, you want at least 30% over your current salary + necessary compensation packages. Also, make sure you have a ballpark of the average salaries for the position you are applying (in that firm). But if you are working as a barman after graduation and interviewing for a job relative to your degree, then you simply mention them your situation and that you are really flexible to all offers (which you actually are, as you are looking to get your foot through the door). Also, then the company probably doesn't take your salary request very seriously, as they know your situation and can just make an offer, which you'll probably accept. Make sure you all understand this during the interview, no need to make yourself look stupid.
 

Master-Classter

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there's a few things...

1. Your previous roles are probably not relevant, especially if you're changing roles or moving up. So if they try to pin you there just say that those were different circumstances (companies, roles, experience levels, etc).

2. Never name an outright number, especially before they do. I've done a bunch of interviews and the question always comes up. My answer is,
a) I expect that you probably have a range in mind and I'm not going to particularly question it as long as it's within a reasonable bounds. You'll give me a range and I'll probably ask for closer to the top, you'll ask for the bottom, and we'll meet somewhere in between.
b) I expect to be fairly compensated for the value I'm providing to you and our customers and I see this offer as an indication of your expectations of the value I'm going to bring the team.
c) I'm not overly concerned since I'm here because i like the industry, company, and role and i'll prove myself. That being said of course there's a basic requirement needed for the cost of living, plus up to a certain point it's going to make me have to really think about this... so I would hope you'll make me an offer i can't refuse and let's get started.

something along those lines...
 

Hannerhan

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Originally Posted by Master-Classter
there's a few things...

1. Your previous roles are probably not relevant, especially if you're changing roles or moving up. So if they try to pin you there just say that those were different circumstances (companies, roles, experience levels, etc).

2. Never name an outright number, especially before they do. I've done a bunch of interviews and the question always comes up. My answer is,
a) I expect that you probably have a range in mind and I'm not going to particularly question it as long as it's within a reasonable bounds. You'll give me a range and I'll probably ask for closer to the top, you'll ask for the bottom, and we'll meet somewhere in between.
b) I expect to be fairly compensated for the value I'm providing to you and our customers and I see this offer as an indication of your expectations of the value I'm going to bring the team.
c) I'm not overly concerned since I'm here because i like the industry, company, and role and i'll prove myself. That being said of course there's a basic requirement needed for the cost of living, plus up to a certain point it's going to make me have to really think about this... so I would hope you'll make me an offer i can't refuse and let's get started.

something along those lines...


I generally agree with that, except your point #1. Previous compensation is always relevant if you ask me.
 

Bill Smith

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My pat answer is along the lines of: I'm happy with fair market value for the position as outlined in the most recent salary survey published by my industry association and what I'm bringing to the organization in terms of talent and drive.
 

imageWIS

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Originally Posted by Hannerhan
I generally agree with that, except your point #1. Previous compensation is always relevant if you ask me.

O RLY? So someone that made say $20K in their pervious job and now has gained experience and education can't be eligible for a $60K even if they have the qualifications?
 

thenanyu

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In most of my experiences, the previous salary question comes up immediately. Some companies (Gilt, for instance) will not get you past an HR phone screen without one.

The way to get a better number is to get competing offers and leverage them against each other.
 

Hannerhan

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Originally Posted by imageWIS
O RLY? So someone that made say $20K in their pervious job and now has gained experience and education can't be eligible for a $60K even if they have the qualifications?

If they then went out and got education after the last job, obviously that's different. At that point they would be compared to other grads. If they have gained experience through internships, etc, that helps as well.

I'm talking about leaving one job and starting at another. The previous compensation is always relevant.
 

rs232

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I've never been in a situation where I had a "must have" skill set. (i.e. someone is going to have big problems if they don't fill the role and they're having a hard time getting any quality prospects). So, I've generally had to put up with what I've been offered.

In my experience, letting them name a range first generally yields 75-105% of market value, and then they try to appoint at the 90% salary mark and expect you to feel pleased that you were in the upper half of that bracket, while leaving room for inflation-index raises.
 

Jr Mouse

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Originally Posted by Hannerhan
I generally agree with that, except your point #1. Previous compensation is always relevant if you ask me.

I don't understand this line of thinking at all. If a company wants to hire me, they should pay me based on their budget, what skills I bring to the table and the market value of the position. My previous salary is irrelevant.
 

ramuman

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I think starting with the SF fallback minimum + 10% (I believe that would be $330,000 now) and not negotiating to less than $315,000 is a good strategy. We're also entitled to benefits like 20% matching retirement contributions, 4 months paid vacation, and fully covered medical premiums.

Remember, they're not hiring just anyone. They're hiring someone who posts on SF.
 

MasterOfReality

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I have always been asked this, and usually get pressed for a figure when I answer with the usual 'market value' thing.

Do the research before the interview, find out what other equivalent positions are paying and then add a reasonable but not too excessive percentage on top to give you room to move when it comes down to the one-on-one negotiations.

I remember an interview I did when I was starting my career. I had just come from my first grad job and was going for another. Same type of position and job description. Lucky I gave them a number, because I found out then and there in the interview that they were paying almost half what I was getting in my previous job. It saved a lot of time and disappointment if I would have waited for an offer. I ended up requesting that the interview be terminated because they refused to budge on their numbers.
 

Eason

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"Based on my experience in the field and my research, my expected salary would be between xxxxx and xxxxx, wholly negotiable depending on benefits or opportunities for advancement."
 

Hannerhan

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Originally Posted by JMRouse
I don't understand this line of thinking at all. If a company wants to hire me, they should pay me based on their budget, what skills I bring to the table and the market value of the position. My previous salary is irrelevant.

Yeah but that's not the way the real world works. In the real world, companies look at individual situations and try to save money when they can.

For instance, I hired a couple of portfolio managers last year and I'll give you a synopsis of how it worked/works. First, I'm in a very captive market where there are few employers that can offer this type of experience. So for those of you in New York, things would work differently because people can switch jobs so easily....

But anyway, I can interview 3 people who are each say, 4 years out of undergrad. And let's say I'm willing to pay $150k on the high end. All these people are really smart and with a reasonably good skill set and who would add similar value. Guy #1 worked in management consulting with the Boston McBainey Company and he's making $140k right now. Guy #2 worked on Wall Street for a couple of years and then moved back to Texas and is working a non-ideal job at a commercial bank but wants to come work for a company like us. Currently at $90k. Guy #3 is in private equity locally and is at $165k. Who would you hire and how much would you pay them?

Spoiler: I'd hire guy #2 and pay him $100k.
 

imageWIS

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Originally Posted by Hannerhan
If they then went out and got education after the last job, obviously that's different. At that point they would be compared to other grads. If they have gained experience through internships, etc, that helps as well.

I'm talking about leaving one job and starting at another. The previous compensation is always relevant.


My highest paying job was before college, and it paid about triple what I made in the job I had during college, my job now is solely commission based. My previous salaries have nothing in relation to the jobs I could do or monies I could earn.
 

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