9. “What is your salary requirement?”

First of all, a great movie example for how to answer this interview question is suggested by this film from Belgium, with the original title DeuxJours, Une Nuit, that you can also find as Two Days, One Night (2014.) It’s one of the few movies that deals with the high emotions associated with compensation conversations.

Sandra has only one weekend to convince her co-workers they should give up a substantial bonus for themselves to allow her to save her job. While you will probably never face the situation Sandra does, most people find it very stressful to have the money conversation in regards to a promotion or new position.

Because this is one of the top 10 questions that you are likely to be asked, therefore here is a four-step formula you can follow plus some example answers that will  allow you to respond with confidence when you respond.

Alternate versions of this question include:

  • What is your current salary?
  • How much did you make in your last job?
  • What did your prior compensation package include?

Your answer should be:

  • deferred for as long as possible
  • appropriate for where you are in your conversation with them (see below)
  • possibly responded to with a question to them about the range
  • researched before your conversation

Your answer should not be:

  • a $ figure or $ range unless you have exhausted all alternative answers in the four-step progression and they continue to press you in follow-up questions

Four Step Progression in Response to Salary Question during Screening

Because screening means any conversation over the phone or in person about salary BEFORE you have been extended an offer, you should try to avoid giving them a specific $ answer early in the process.  Since your number may be used to screen you out of further consideration.

So Here’s How to Create Your Answer:

Therefore, use the 4 steps below and step to each of the next levels in sequence if they continue to press you for an answer:

  • Step 1. Evade
  • Step 2. Inquire
  • Step 3. Bundle
  • Step 4. Market Range

Here are some examples in each of the four steps:

Step 1. Evade – (First, indicate your flexibility and interests other than salary)

  • Example #1

“I am sure when the time comes we will be able to come to an agreement.”

  • Example #2

“I am negotiable and flexible on that.”

  • Example #3

“Salary is obviously a factor, but I’m interested in the opportunity for growth and development over the long term. It’s more important to me to join a company that’s a good long-term fit.”

  • Example #4

“I’ve never taken a job based on the salary alone. The contribution I would be making is important to me. Could we talk some more about what I would actually be doing?”

Step 2. Inquire – (In addition, you can turn the question back to them)

  • Example #5

“In what range do you typically pay someone with my background?”

  • Example #6

“Could you share what range is currently budgeted for this position?”

Step 3. Bundle – (Since your want to establish salary in the context of a more detailed conversation to occur)

  • Example #7

“I would like to know more about the duties, responsibilities, and authority of this position before I could answer regarding salary expectation.”  (really like this one)

  • Example #8

“Salary is only one part of the total compensation package. I’ll be able to provide you more specifics on a salary expectation when I understand the other benefits you offer to your employees.”

Step 4. Market Range – (Finally, if you have tried all the variations in the prior three levels and they still insist on your naming a salary requirement. Provide them a range, possibly in the $15,000 – $20,000 range, based on what your research has identified.

Therefore you want to position it as the market figure (not yours) and based on what you know about the position currently. Remember, if you identify additional responsibilities that would place this position at a higher level, you want to be able to come back with a different amount based on updated information after they offer you the job and you are in actual salary negotiations.)

  • Example #9

“Based on my understanding of the position, market today would seem to be between X and Y. “


Finally, to further improve your own answer to this question, get immediate access to the “WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?” Guide in the Hollywood Movie Method Job Winning Series.This Guide includes 12 sample answers given by real people for this question. You will discover ratings for each answer that will help you quickly refine your own answer to be even more effective.

This Guide also includes samples and complete how to answer training for even more questions you face in your job interviews.

Give Me Guide Now