There is one question I have been asked more than any other in over 15 years of working in accounting and finance recruitment.

“How do I deal with being asked about remuneration at an interview?”

Understandably, this is a tricky situation to deal with for all of us no matter what job you do or what industry you work in.

My thoughts? You should never be asked this question at an interview.

It’s always a tricky subject for someone to discuss and it should in no way, shape or form be discussed in an interview situation. It is totally the wrong forum for it.

An interview should be a forum for both parties to establish if the role and skills are suitable and if there is a fit between you and the company/people. You should not be at the interview in the first place if your salary expectations are not in line with the role.

There should be no need to be asked about remuneration at an interview if the screening process has been done correctly. What ultimately drives this is the person coordinating the process (who may well not be in the interview) having the necessary skills to ask the right questions to establish that the salary/package is suitable before the interview. That person should also be able to brief the hiring manager not to ask the question in interview (because it does still happen) and brief the candidate on how to deal with the question if asked. This person might typically be a recruiter, someone in HR or an internal recruitment team - or sometimes the hiring manager themselves.

As soon as you give a figure you spoil the recruiter’s chances of getting you the best offer!

I have seen people shoot themselves in the foot in spectacular fashion in an interview after being asked about remuneration and either ruling themselves out of a role that is suitable or doing themselves out of $20k (or more) per annum by answering the question incorrectly.

So what should people say if they get asked about remuneration in an interview?

Here are some strategies/responses you can use if you are put in the uncomfortable situation of being asked about remuneration in an interview:

1) “Presumably my recruiter has informed you of my salary expectations and I'm more comfortable for them to negotiate on my behalf.” - (obviously if you are applying through a recruiter)

2) “I'm happy to meet the market rate for a role such as this.”

3) “I am aware of the remuneration level for this role and I'm comfortable at that level.”

4) “Money is not the most important thing to me in assessing this great opportunity. I'm happy to discuss specifics further down the track if we get to that point.” - (which won't be done in an interview!)

5) Throw the question back - ask what the entire package looks like in terms of benefits, bonus component, car park, superannuation and any other perks. From there, you can get a feel what base component to pitch yourself at more accurately. Many employers simply forget to mention their packages include many of these things initially.

If absolutely pushed for a number in interview? Never give an absolute number! You are committing yourself to that number and you could be doing yourself out of some money! If the interviewer insists on getting a number from you, then give them a salary range that you know is in the ballpark for the role (the broader the better).

You may also want to consider whether you want to work for someone who is so insistent on pushing you for an answer in interview of course.

 

Keen on Adam guiding you through your next interview process with great tips like this? Get in touch with him today to discuss what roles he has the would suit you.

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