Show me the money

When to ask about salary in a job interview

I’m suspicious about employers who don’t give some idea of the salary in the job advertisement or position description.

It often means they want to pay the new hire peanuts to do a highly technical job with a colossal workload.

Even so, if you do get a job interview, sooner or later you are going to have to talk about salary, because this is what you’ll need to buy a house, feed yourself and your family and pay the bills.

I tell clients before they apply, to call the recruiter or prospective employer and ask for the salary range. If they hedge, give the job a miss. If they don’t have a contact number (unless they’re hiring in large numbers), give them a miss too.

Before your job interview, research the average industry salary for your job. This will help make a stronger case for the salary you’re after.

Once you have an industry-standard salary range, figure out where you belong on it. Do you have rich experience and have taken on extra qualifications?

Also consider your cost of living. Start with the sum of your total bills, add how much savings you want to have, and be realistic by including spending money. 

Sometimes its good policy to wait until the interviewer brings the question of salary up. But good form isn’t going to pay the bills. If they don’t tell you, ask.

Before you accept the job, you need to decide if the salary offer is high enough. Remember, you don’t have to answer immediately – it’s often okay to ask for a little time to make a decision.

Consider if the company offers opportunities to progress from your starting role – will you be advancing each year after your annual review, could promotions happen sooner?

It’s okay to ask for a higher salary if the offer isn’t as high as you expected, based on your research, experience and what the new job will require of you.

Emphasise why you deserve more by referencing what other companies are paying for the same work and detailing how your expertise can add value to their company.

If they refuse your offer, don’t panic. It’s up to you now whether you want to accept the job at that salary, or politely decline. Remember your worth here and don’t take a job for less than you deserve.

Put your best foot forward

Malcolm builds expert resumes, cover letters and LinkedIn profiles, which unleash an unbeatable business case to promote you as a ‘must have’ asset to an employer.