It seems rather unfair that even after submitting a great resume and cover letter you still have to deal with tricky interview questions. The salary question is one of the most dreaded of all interview questions. It’s not surprising that few people are able to answer it in a professional manner beyond the standard “I expect to be paid what I’m worth” statement. For the job hunter, you need to understand what it is that your interviewer is really asking.
When the interviewer asks, “What are your salary requirements?,” what he or she is really asking is whether or not you have a realistic salary expectation and if you are flexible about the amount. This is also why the interviewer would like you to list an actual dollar amount.
Finding out what you are worth is easy enough. Visit one of the websites that offer salary ranges and see what you can expect. Be sure to account for your education and experience. Location is important as well; salaries in New York City are generally far higher than in Trenton, Tennessee. Once you have that information you are ready to respond.
How should you respond to that question? Don’t shout out a number, but state that based on your education, experience and responsibilities of the position that $60-65,000 (or whatever amount you found) would be reasonable. Mention that you are flexible and would certainly consider benefits.
While it is important to be seen as flexible and as someone who can be negotiated with, don’t settle for less than you can honestly afford. Most companies will be fair simply because if they aren’t you will move on to one that is and they have time invested in you. Still, find out what you are worth before your next interview and you will be prepared for this tricky question.