When the conversation turns to the elephant in the room, it’s good to have a strategy. Here’s how to get what you want without seeming pushy or coy.
1. Don’t lie, but don’t tell. Do not reveal your current salary until you absolutely have to. Leave the space on the application blank or write “To be discussed in person,” vault.com’s Jason Levin tells Money magazine. Say, “I’d like to focus on the opportunity here and whether it’s a good fit.”
2. Make them name the number first. Pam Lassiter (The New Job Security, Revised) on freemoneyfinance.com recommends ducking when the question comes. Tell the interviewer that the pay systems at the two companies differ: “I’m sure you pay competitively. What did you have in mind?”
3. Be general at first. Lee Miller (Get More Money on Your Next Job…in Any Economy) tells Money, “The phrase to use is ‘my total compensation.’” That way, you can include upcoming raises, bonuses, 401(k) matches, and other benefits without overstating things. Lassiter suggests giving a broad range that includes all these things and then asking what the company’s own package looks like.
4. Be specific when you’re pushed. When their patience is flagging, tell them what they want to know, Lassiter says. Then, smiling, ask what salary and compensation they have in mind.