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Is there ever a right time to ask about salary? Bringing money up during the first interview might be one of the most uncomfortable things to do. But money is one of the main reasons we all take up jobs, isn’t it?

Some industry experts, such as Shawn D’Souza, 2015 -2017 talent acquisition manager at Workopolis, insist that the salary conversation is not for the candidate to initiate. On another hand, some others would rather discuss it with the candidate to be sure that they’re paying what the candidate is worth.

Some others entirely agree that the candidate should ask the question, but it’s a matter of timing. A Robert Half survey cited by Payscale revealed that 31% of hiring managers are comfortable with the question being brought up during the first interview, while 38% think the second interview is ideal. Surprisingly, some others favour the salary question being asked during a phone interview.

Clearly, the opinions are divided. But if you choose at any stage to ask about your salary during an interview, here are excellent tips on how to do so.

  1. Know the numbers and prepare your mind

Every role in every industry has a general market value. To kickstart a conversation about the potential salary, you need to have a target that’s in line with the market, so you need to conduct some fair research.

This will give you insight into the areas in which the new job will be paying you differently. Thorough market research will also inform you in the event that you’re making a career pivot. You’ll be better equipped to produce questions and answers that are peculiar to the industry and company.

Here are some sites that give information on the pay ranges for different roles and in different locations:

But, don’t neglect the job ad. A comprehensive reading of the job description and even the company’s website might give you insight into the company’s pay. This will save you from any embarrassment that may come from asking questions when the answers are obvious.

  1. Determine what matters to you

Money isn’t everything.

I know you’re probably rolling your eyes at that saying, but it’s really not just about the Benjamins. When asking about salary during your interview, be sure not to be unduly fixated on the cash. Think bigger.

Beyond the salary aspect, there are other subtle forms of rewards and compensation that a job opportunity can offer, such as:

  • Upward mobility and growth opportunities
  • Compatibility in terms of values and culture
  • Suitability for your career journey
  • Health insurance, retirement plans, vacations, and other staff benefits

The starting pay that the organization offers might not be as impressive but think beyond the paycheck. Other perks might sweeten the deal, so keep an eye out for them.

  1. Keep it professional

Asking about salary during an interview is no game. You need to assume a business-minded attitude when approaching such a delicate topic. This is important because a refined attitude when you bring it up indicates that you are concerned about working at the organization and eager to move the conversation properly.

Asking about salary during your interview demands that you advance graciously. This implies that you should select your words and phrases to avoid sending the wrong signal. An excellent example is to use the word “compensation” instead of “salary”. It may also help to ask for a range in which the salary will fall instead of a specific number.

We understand that asking the money question can be quite disconcerting. So, here are some ways to open up the matter:

  • Be bold and directly spell out your expectations. This approach could be risky, but make sure that your quote isn’t beyond the market standard.
  • Ask your interviewer how the company’s compensation stacks up against other companies’ for similar roles. This method is helpful if you’re not keen on stating a figure yourself.
  • You can coat the curiosity about the pay with enthusiasm for the job opportunity. Explain that you’re excited about the role and that you’re sure that the salary will match the value you bring. Then ask what they’ve budgeted for the role.
  1. Demonstrate your value

An excellent strategy when it comes to asking about salary during your interview is to lay the proper foundation first. Before popping the money question, it’s advisable to show your competence and expertise for the role in question.

This is an important move because putting your passion and suitability for the role on display stops your inquiry into the salary from feeling like the elephant in the room. It would flow naturally as a part of the conversation, instead of sticking out like a sore thumb.

Show your value by discussing your prior successes and accomplishments in the field or a similar/related position. If your achievements had a quantifiable positive effect on your former company’s targets, all the better!

However, one thing you must not do in the process is to trick your interviewer or prospective employer. Whether it’s to get them to believe you have other job offers, or that other companies pay more, just avoid anything that is not the truth. Focus on showing how you can be beneficial to them, and let everything else fall into place.

  1. Time it right

Asking about salary during an interview must be masterfully done, and this entails knowing when to fire the question.

First and foremost, a question about money should never be the first thing you, as an interviewee, ask in an interview. If the interviewer brings it up, that’s a different matter. But the interviewee bringing it up as the first thing is wrong.

Before you introduce the question, be sure that it will not distort the flow of the discussion, nor unsettle the interviewer. Introduce the question after you’ve captured the interviewer’s interest by showing that you’re worth your salt with regard to the job position.

We strongly advise that you take your cue from the interviewer. They can help you figure out a key moment to throw in the question. If questions about when you can begin come up, then the time just might be ripe to ask about the benefits.

In all, before you introduce the question about your salary, be sure to have put on display the fact that you’ll be a powerful asset to the company. Give the interviewer the assurance that you’re not just there for the money. If they happen to throw the question your way, be sure that you fully understand the role’s obligations, then provide a salary range instead of a fixed figure. This will show that you’re willing to negotiate.

  1. Be smart during the conversation

If your interviewer throws the question your way, it’s better to quote a range than stating a specific figure. Also, make sure you’ve confirmed the requirements of the job before quoting.

If you haven’t learned about all the demands of the role, it might be necessary to politely defer since you need to learn more about the role and the organization. At this point, a clever move is to turn the question around, ask the interviewer the salary range they’re considering. This gives you insight from a reliable source.

In conclusion, asking about salary during an interview isn’t wrong. But if you must do it, it’s best to do it right. Put these tips to work during your interview to indicate that you care about the company, and not just your pay.