It’s generally considered a bad idea to ask about salary during your first job interview with a company, but that doesn’t mean the person interviewing you won’t bring it up themselves.
If they do, it’s important not to let any questions about money distract you from your goals — highlighting your skillset, communicating your values, and establishing how your personal goals align with those of the company.
In the event that you’re asked point blank how much money you’re looking for, it’s a good idea to try to redirect the question toward the company you’re interviewing with.
Dan Martineau, president of the IT recruiting firm Recruiting Technology, tells Business Insider that the best thing to do is to tell the interviewer you would like to defer a conversation about compensation until after the company has had a chance to evaluate whether you’re the right fit for them.
This will also give you a better chance to determine how well-suited you are for the position, which will give you a firmer understanding of how much money you would need to make to do the job in question.
If the interviewer presses you a second time, Martineau recommends to try a response like this: “My present salary is X. I’m looking for the best offer based on my experience and education. What’s the range for this position?”
Another way an interviewer might bring up money early in the interview process is by asking you how much you’re currently being paid.
This one is tricky because divulging that information could put you at a negotiating disadvantage later on. For instance, if you tell the interviewer you’re making $50,000, it’s unlikely that you will wind up with an offer of $100,000.
If your current salary is lower than the one you want to make at your next job, Martineau says you can be honest and say something along the lines of, “I like my company. I like my job, but frankly, I’m underpaid. I would expect any offer to be commensurate with my skills and experience relative to the marketplace.”
“I think the best employers don’t focus on money until the very end, and I think the same thing goes for candidates,” he explains.
However, if you don’t discuss salary in your first interview, it might be okay for you to bring it up later in the hiring process — so long as you do it tactfully.
Monster.com career consultant Mary Ellen Slayter tells Business Insider it’s smart to start talking about money once you are confident that the company is seriously interested in hiring you. That way, you won’t waste time on your job search imagining yourself at a firm that can’t afford to employ you.
Slayter cautions that it’s important to avoid giving off the impression that money is the most important factor in your job search or you are only interested in joining the company because you think you will get a raise.
A polite way to bring it up, she says, is to ask, “Did you have a salary range in mind for this position?”