Talking about how much money you make can be a little awkward—but never more so than when you’re approached about it in the middle of a job interview. So tell us what they’re paying you at your current job, the interviewer might casually ask—and sometimes it’s enough to completely throw you off your game, leave you stammering, or get you blurting out the first thing that comes to mind.
Of course, you may undersell yourself, and end up getting a lower salary offer than you might have gotten otherwise. Then again, you might oversell yourself, and end up talking yourself out of a job, for fear that you’re too pricy. So how are you supposed to answer questions about your current salary? Should you answer them at all?
There are different approaches you can take, just depending on your current position and your read of the interviewer. Below, we’ll list three recommended ways to handle salary questions—and two ways not to.
How to Answer Questions About Your Current Salary
First, three decent ways to answer those awkward salary questions:
- You can tell the interviewer what you currently make, but explain that you’re being paid under market value. If you’re pretty sure you’re being paid less than others with comparable responsibilities and experience, then this is all that needs to be said. Before the interview, do some online research to find out how much you should be making; if your currently employer is underpaying you, then tell the interviewer. It’s as simple as that.
- You can tell the interviewer what you currently make, explain that it’s over market value, and explain why. Conversely, do you think you’re being paid more than others with comparable positions? If so, then be straightforward in explaining it to your interviewer—but be prepared to explain why you deserve to be overpaid, what value you can bring, why you’re ultimately worth the investment. This is tricky, but if you have confidence and if you come with specific reasons to support your higher salary, it can be achieved.
- You can beat around the bush. If all else fails, you might try to address the question without actually answering it—something like, Well, how much do you think I should be making? Or, How much do you think I’m worth? This is ultimately better than just not answering, and if you’re unsure of whether your current salary is low or high, this is a safe route.
How Not to Answer Questions About Your Current Salary
Two things not to do:
- Lie about your current salary. There is a decent chance that you’ll be found out somewhere down the line—and when you are, it won’t go over well.
- Refuse to answer at all. Interviewers don’t like job applicants who seem like they are hiding something—and when you simply refuse to answer a question like this, people are going to wonder why.
The bottom line for jobseekers: You’re as likely as not to get this question… and you need to know in advance how you might answer it.