When should you start discussing salary in an interview?

Manager welcomes a candidate into the job interview with a handshake

No matter how promising the opportunity, there’s no denying that salary is a major factor when accepting a job offer.

For many of us, receiving a fair remuneration package for our skills and experience impacts our job satisfaction. However, it’s important to broach the salary conversation with your prospective employer at the right stage and with the right job interview preparation. Failing to do so could compromise your chance of securing the role.

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Here are three factors to consider before you start discussing salary during the interview process.

1. Avoid salary talk at the very beginning

The first interview is an opportunity for your potential employer to get to know you and identify your attributes and strengths. Before starting a dialogue about your salary expectations, you need to display suitability for the role and give yourself time to asses if the job is right for you. Once you're confident that you want to progress with the opportunity, and you're sure the hiring manager is interested in you, it might be the right time to start a conversation about the potential salary and benefit package on offer. If you are working with a recruitment consultant for the role, be sure to touch base with them before discussing the salary and benefits package as they will often negotiate with the hiring manager on your behalf.

2. Don’t imply that money is your sole motivator

Although opportunities for a higher salary can be a catalyst for your decision to change jobs, suggesting that it’s your biggest motivation is a grave mistake. Discussing salary during the initial interview, or referencing it in your cover letter or CV, can send the message that you value monetary benefits over opportunity and experience.

3. Make sure you leave room for a negotiation

When you do decide to discuss salary, don't mention a specific figure – provide your preferred salary range instead. Showing that you're flexible is the first step towards negotiating a remuneration offer that’s viable for your employer and reflects your ambitions. Arm yourself with information by surveying friends in your industry, talking with your recruitment consultant and reviewing relevant salary guides to assess your current value on the recruitment market. If you do your research, you'll be better equipped to negotiate a salary that you deserve. Before you talk money, remember to put yourself in your potential employer's shoes. If you wait until you proved your value as a serious prospect, you're likely to get the best result.

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