navigate salary questions job interview

So you’re at an interview. Your outfit’s on fleek, your confidence levels are high (as they should always be, because you’re awesome), and you know what? You feel pretty stoked about how this interview is going.

But then the interview questions about salary make an appearance.

Entity shares interview questions about salary

Oh God.

The interviewer asks, “What was your salary at your previous job?” And you just start freaking out. What should you say? How should you answer? Should you even answer?

YES, you should answer. And here’s why.

New research from Payscale found that women are penalized when they DON’T answer interview questions about salary.

The study found that women who dodge the question end up earning 1.8 percent less than women applicants who DO discuss their previous pay. Of course, women typically earn 79 cents to every man’s dollar, so chances are they were making less than they deserved anyway. So telling an interviewer your previous salary could come back to bite you. So basically you’re damned if you do — damned if you don’t.

Now, it shouldn’t come as a shock to hear that this same scenario doesn’t apply to men. In fact, it’s kind of the opposite. Men who refuse to answer the pay question are rewarded with 1.2 percent higher pay than men who do answer. But 1) that’s not really a surprise and 2) it’s besides the point.

So anyway, here’s how to answer salary questions like a pro (and in a way that won’t leave you even deeper down the pay gap — sigh).

First of all, you might be wondering why women are penalized in the first place? Well, Lydia Frank, Vice President of Content Strategy at Payscale explained that when women DON’T answer the pay question, but instead speak about what they would like to make, “It’s somehow seen on the women’s side as impolite or uncooperative, and they pay a social cost for negotiating.”

So yeah, that’s ridiculous. Women make less for not answering because it’s seen as uncooperative, but men make more for behaving the exact same way? Hmmm… sounds like outright sexism to me.

Entity shares how to deal with interview questions about salary

Thus, the first  step of NOT coming off like an impolite, uncooperative woman is all about reading the situation.

Typically employers ask the salary question in order to see if they can afford you as a candidate.

If you’re feeling like you don’t want to answer the question, turn it around to your interviewer.

Ask them what they plan on paying. This way, you are not blatantly avoiding the question, but instead, engaging in an open dialogue. Now let’s say you’ve read the situation and decide to answer.

The second  step to answering interview questions about salary is to be confident in your initial approach and know both the value of yourself and the job.

Frank said in an interview that her advice would be to “move the conversation very quickly to the value of that position you are talking about.”

“You can say, ‘Here’s what I’m currently making, but based on the competitive market rate I would place more around here. Is that what you were thinking?’ Get your number off the table as fast as possible.”

Make the question about intrinsic value, not a number. This way you will avoid earning less (should you get the position) simply as a consequence of not answering the question. After that, everything will hopefully work out from there.

So if someone ever advises you to pass on the interview questions about salary, you know what to do. And more importantly, you know how to answer.

entity shares how to deal with interview questions about salary

Now go get that paper!

Edited by Kayla Caldwell

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