How to Discuss Compensation in an Interview

Discussing compensation during a job interview is a potentially tricky situation. Your primary goal is to demonstrate the expertise you’d bring to the company. At the same time, you need to understand compensation expectations to determine whether you would even be interestedin pursuing the position.

Striking this balance in the job interview, then, is a delicate process. Let’s take a look at some of the best approaches to talking about compensation while still focusing on how you’ll meet the company’s needs.

Be prepared with how much you should or could earn in the position.

If you plan to discuss compensation, you need to know how much you should make. Consider the salary you’re currently earning, but if you’re making a vertical career move, you want to do your research about the new role. Research compensation expectations for similar roles in your area to come up with a salary range you’d expect.

If you’re not sure what someone with your experience should earn, contact Career Moves to get a better sense of the range you should mention in the interview.

Before sharing the salary range you identify, ask questions to encourage the hiring manager to tell you their budgeted range.

At the same time, ideally, you don’t want to simply announce this salary range. Instead, encourage the hiring manager to tell you the budgeted range for the role. Otherwise, your estimate could be either too low or too high. To do this, let the hiring manager know that you’re aware of the salary range for the position, and then ask about their budgeted range.

Don’t discuss salary early on in the interview.

Even if compensation is important to you, you don’t want to start out the interview with these expectations. If the hiring manager asks you about compensation early in your conversation, don’t answer right away. Instead, tell them you want to hear more about the expectations for the position first. Wait until the end of the interview when you’ve already sold yourself to the hiring manager

Only discuss compensation when you think the hiring manager is interested in you.

Make sure the hiring manager is already interested in hiring you before you discuss compensation. Otherwise, you might not make the best impression. If the hiring manager asks questions about your possible start date or ways to contact your references, that’s a good sign your interview is going well.

Discussing compensation in an interview can be a sensitive issue. You want to have enough information to ask for what you’re worth, while also subtly persuading the hiring manager to offer up the position’s budgeted salary. If you want to take the guesswork out of this process, Career Moves founder Paul Wigglesworth can help. For the last 20 years, he’s helped hundreds of accounting and finance professionals navigate the unwritten rules of the job interview process.