Proven strategy for answering the salary question in a step-by-step script

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by Andrew Beach

“What is your salary expectation?”

– The Recruiter Playbook

Whether you like the question or not, the fact is you will be asked this question. With this in your mind, you can prepare for it.

  1. When it’s early, say, “It’s early in the hiring process to be discussing compensation.” Typically during an introductory phone screening, the recruiter wants to know whether you fit the box. You objective is to learn more about the role first.
  2. Ask for the range, saying, “I’m confident once we determine the fit for the role that we can work out a total compensation package that works for us both. Please tell me more about what the ideal candidate looks like.” By turning the conversation back to the role and fit, you indicate to the recruiter that you are more interested in job satisfaction.
  3. A hyper-myopic recruiter might turn towards your salary history, asking, “What did you make at your last role?” When recruiters want to put an entry in a box, they aren’t doing it for your benefit. By trying to short cut the process using arbitrary criteria, this question is likely to sabotage the process for both parties. Stick to your guns with, “I’m not confident yet that the duties I had before even match up to those required by this role. What are the top 1 or 2 things the hiring team is looking for in this role?”
  4. Whether with recruiter or hiring manager, eventually you may be asked to divulge your range. This isn’t something to be afraid or ashamed of. Let the market speak for itself in this case by providing a range, “Based on my research it appears that the market salary for a role of this type is between $XXX and $YYY, is that the range you had in mind or something higher?” Yes, I put in “higher.” We don’t want to leave money on the table when it’s available.
  5. When the salary is too low, you will be filtered out of an opportunity. Be thankful and consider that may not be the end. Do you best to make the recruiter comfortable and give them a proactive strategy for moving forward. Respond with, “In what situations would the hiring manager be willing to expand the budget to bring in the best candidates?”
  6. Always close this dialog with a question that leads to the next step in the interview, “It sounds like this is a good fit for us both, let’s schedule the interview with the hiring team, what days and times are available?”

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Picture of Andrew Beach

Andrew Beach

Andrew Beach is a Branding Dynamo. He helps transform confusion into clarity by translating your charismatic story assets, understanding your personal values, and scripting a top notch identity statement in support of effective networking. Coaching clients say that they have doubled message retention and shortened time on landing, often garnering multiple job offers.

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