Lack of money is no obstacle. Lack of an idea is an obstacle. (Hakuta)
It’s your first interview. Things are going well. The wall clock says you’ve been here 45 minutes. That’s good. Then the hirer sits back in his chair and asks, “How much do we have to pay you?”
This can be a disaster. If you come up with too big of a number, they won’t hire you. If the number is too small you won’t earn as much as you could. Is there any way to win?
Your answer needs to show a great attitude. It can’t sound like you are greedy. It must leave the door open for negotiations. It has to get you a job offer so you can really start negotiating. Try this:
I really like the opportunity you have described to me. This is a great company. I would love to come to work for you. In my last job I earned (amount), I certainly wouldn’t want to work for less. What I would like… is to be able to entertain your best offer.
Show them your attitude first. Let them know you like the company and the job. Give them the historical fact of what you last earned. Then defuse the question by saying you want to see their best offer.
This line works. Most of the time they’ll stop asking you for a number. If they ask you again, repeat the line. Eventually you’ll be negotiating wages, but try to put it off until they really want to make you an offer.
Use the money question to show your attitude. You’ll get more job offers. You’ll also make more money.
Something To Do Today
Put this question and answer down in your interview preparation notes. Practice saying it five times before every phone interview or in-person interview.