How to Answer Questions About Salary

It’s probably one of the most difficult, and certainly most loaded, question you’ll face at a job interview for a health care career. Everything is going along fine. You’ve nailed every question about yourself and provided killer information about the qualities you bring to help the company to which you’re applying.

You have this job in the bag! Then … the question that throws even the most seasoned job interviewers.

What are your salary expectations for this position?

Talk about your proverbial “no-win” situation. Come in with your answer too high, and you’ve eliminated yourself from consideration entirely. But if the hiring agent comes back immediately with an acceptance, you’ve probably come in too low and are now working at a job where you know you could be making more.

So, what to do when asked that most loaded of interview questions? We’ve put together a few common-sense tips to help you navigate those sometimes treacherous compensatory waters.

Much like when working in a health care career … you have to do your research

“To start off, I always tell my graduates to do their research before the interview and see what the beginning average salary is in that particular city and for their position,” said Danielle Van der Knaap, who works with Graduate Employment Services at Concorde’s campus in San Antonio, Texas.

You can go to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website, at //www.bls.gov for this information.

“Then, when an employer asks what you are asking, you can flip the script and ask what the average salary would be for an entry level position,” Van der Knaap said. “That way, they can either give you an exact number or estimate.

“You can then bring to their attention your research if you do not like the asking wage. This way, you are not shooting yourself in the foot and not asking too little or too much.”

Never take the first offer as final

Van der Knaap goes on to say that, if the salary offer is not what you are looking for, you should never walk away from the health care career interview, but negotiate.

“Ask what the benefits are, because in some ways this is more valuable,” Van der Knaap said. “Or, you can ask, after your probationary period, if you can be re-evaluated to see what you have contributed to the company and maybe get a raise.”

Try to turn the tables

Still others say that, when asked “What kind of salary are you looking for?” from a prospective health care career employer, you should do what you can to try and get a number from the interviewer before you answer.

“I think it is best to try to get the amount from the employer,” said Paula Barron of Concorde – San Antonio’s Graduate Employment Services. “If possible, try to get the dollar amount from them. This way, you don’t ask for too much and then they won’t make an offer. Then again, if you go too low, they may very well make the offer for the job and save the company some money at the same time.”

Barron agrees that, especially if the prospective employer won’t answer your salary questions, it’s best to have some knowledge going into the interview.

“If they ask again and won’t answer your question about what the position would start out paying … just have a range,” she said. “’I am looking for something between $12-$14 an hour.’ You really don’t want it to be too big of a range, maybe $2-$3.”

Sometimes, it’s simply best to take your medicine

Oftentimes, you simply need the job, no matter what. In those instances, it’s probably best to come in at what you know might be a somewhat low salary request, one you know will get you the offer, and work toward a higher salary down the road.

“Remember, sometimes it is better to get your foot in the door and take a position to gain experience then to decline and remain unemployed,” said Stacie Williams, Director of Student Affairs at Concorde – San Antonio.

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