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How to Bring up Salary in a Job Interview

This week we welcomed the new $5 note into Australia, so it seemed appropriate that we shared our best interview tips for addressing the question of salary. It’s the big dollar-sign smothered elephant in the interview room. You want to know how successful your bank account will be if you’re successful at getting the job, right? But you’re equally worried about sounding unprofessional or disrespectful by bringing up the contentious question?

News alert, it isn’t unprofessional, disrespectful or in the least bit contentious! In fact, your potential new boss will likely admire your boldness for speaking your mind and proactively addressing the issue at hand. Countless people accept a job without addressing salary. Similarly, many people are fully aware of their potential pay-packet during an interview but are too afraid to negotiate. However, being underpaid can lead to a lack of productivity and can even make you resent the company and your colleagues.

Do not sell yourself short! Stand tall and follow our top tips for making peace with your soon-to-be pay packet:

Act Sooner Rather than Later
Timing is everything and if you leave the salary query until the end of the interview you might forget to bring it up, or be too impatient for the interview to be over that you disregard it entirely. So act sooner rather than later and sing about salary early on. Raising the question early on doesn’t mean that the interviewee will think that you are only interested in the job for its wage; it will show off the go-getter in you, the strategic problem-solver and will show that you’re a curious human being. These are qualities and skills that employers try and seek out in a candidate.

Keep Calm and Do Your Research
It’s the age old “fail to prepare, prepare to fail” saga, and there’s value in this even where your potential new pennies are concerned. Know the price you want to ask for, or what you are willing to compromise for before you enter the interview room. Have your dollar signs in a row before you face the interviewer, otherwise you might find yourself settling for less than you are worth. If the role, department or industry is new to you and you’re unsure about how much that role typically pays, then there are plenty of sources just waiting for you to gaze your eyeballs over. Try the Australian Pay Scale for starters.   

It Pays to be Polite
Be careful how you phrase the sensitive salary question. “I hope you don’t mind me asking, but how much does the job pay?” is a great starter-for-ten. This is understandably a nervy topic to tackle, but don’t blurt it out like a bad taste you have to get rid of. Instead, deliver the question in an amicable way, and you’ll more than likely get an amicable answer.  

Breathe Easy with Breathing Techniques
Being anxious in interviews is a major reason as to why a lot of people walk out of an interview with their head hanging low. You can fight the anxiety with a simple skill that you’re doing a perfect job of right now – steady breathing. It might sound tedious but concentrating on your breathing for just 10 seconds really works, and has the power to relieve anxiety from your system and give you the boost to bring up the salary sentence. It takes courage to be abrupt and speak your mind, and if approaching the question seems overwhelming take a deep breath and let out any anxious thoughts that are holding you back.

Now go forth, stride into the interview room and deliver the (now) not-so-dreaded question about salary with style, grace and a winning smile.  


By Heather Doherty

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