In negotiations, the first person to blink usually loses. The same goes for salary negotiations. If you name a number first, you’ll never know how high the hiring manager might have gone to win you.
Here are five sneaky ways an interviewer will get you to answer the money question, and how to avoid them.
Q: “What is the salary range you’re expecting?”
Your ideal answer: “I’d like to get a better sense of the requirements before I commit to a number. Just so I can make sure I have a sense of what you need.”
Q: “How much did you make at your last job?”
Your ideal answer: Don’t answer it. Say instead: “First I want to make sure I understand the ways in which this position’s responsibilities will differ from those of my former position. Let’s discuss the details before we agree on a fair amount.”
Q: “What are you hoping for in terms of salary?”
Your ideal answer: This is basically the same as the first question. If they’ve already asked some version of this, try this answer, and keep deflecting: “I’m sure whatever you’re offering will be commensurate with the going market rate for this position.” This puts the burden of fairness on them.
Q: “In order to make you an offer, I’ll need to know your requirements.”
Your ideal answer: False! Resist! Deflect again! How about: “Let’s start with what you have budgeted for this position and then we can discuss from there.”
Q: “Why don’t you want to disclose your salary requirements?”
Your ideal answer: This is quite the bold one, and not all that common. At this point, it’s okay to fight fire with fire. Try: “I’d really like to get a sense of what this position is worth to your company before I make any commitments.”
As tough as it is to be tough, it will pay out in the long run. You may feel awkward about taking such a hard line, but your interviewer will respect you as someone not to be trifled with. You might even win yourself the offer with your negotiating prowess.