home »

dear headhunter columns »

career insider columns »

syndicated newspapers »

internet/on-line readership »

the buzz about George »

biography/references »

order advice/order book »

send email »

career insider

The Toughest Interview Question

The money question ranks number one as the most difficult interview question to answer correctly. This question can rattle the cage of the most confident interviewee.

Most of us get nervous when it comes to putting a price tag on ourselves. If you ask for too much money, you might appear to be cocky and lose the opportunity to get the job offer. If the employer feels you are overly concerned about your compensation it can terminate the interview. Are you a mercenary? If I hire you, will you leave me just for more money? Asking for too much could nullify the employer’s interest level instantly. If you ask for too little, the employer might think you’re unsure of your worth and selling yourself short. Maybe you are selling yourself short, based on low self-esteem or lack of confidence. This question becomes particularly difficult if you are unemployed. Are you just looking for any paycheck until you find the right money job somewhere else? There seems to be no right answer. I hope the following tips will guide you to successfully answering the money questions.

    Always provide your salary history when the employer requests that information. This question appears in newspaper ads that state, "Resumes will not be considered without salary history." Employers need to qualify your income to make sure you fit their pay range for the job. If your salary history is too low or too high, you will be eliminated as a candidate.
    Always correctly state your current compensation. This is not the time to get cute or evasive. It’s OK to round out your numbers, but be careful. If you overstate your money, the employer may ask for W-2’s or paycheck stubs to verify your income. If you’re expecting a raise soon, you can add that expected amount to your income, but you’ll need to date the new amount so the employer understands it’s a projection of compensation.
    Never divulge the amount of money you want. Do not state the dollar amount or the percentage of increase you desire. When completing an employment application, the answer to the question of desired salary is "open." To the hypothetical questions of, "If we hire you, how much do you want?" or, "What is the least amount you’ll take if we hire you?" The answer is always, "I’m excited about your company, the products and the people," "If you offer me this job, I’m confident you will extend a fair offer based on my current compensation," "I’m no different than others in that earning more money is a goal, but the primary reason for my excitement is the opportunity to join your company."


[QUICK TIP] If you are new to the current job market or have no knowledge of your current market value, two good internet sites for research are www.salary.com and www.salaryexpert.com. Remember, it’s about your current value and not about your money expectations.

PLEASE NOTE: emails received become the property of "Dear Headhunter" and may be published unless otherwise requested. Questions may be edited for content and length. All questions will be reviewed, some without a reply.

George Gurney has been a leader in the employment industry since 1976. He founded an executive search firm that conducts domestic and international assignments.  He has won numerous awards for recruiting excellence.  He has been a guest speaker at national conventions and seminars.