When Should You Ask About Salary?

Calendar Icon
December 17, 2021
Edited by
Clock Icon
min read

When You Should Ask About Your Salary 

Salary is a sensitive subject that needs to be dealt with caution. Most job interviewers are afraid to even say the word "salary" during a job interview, worried that it might appear inappropriate, premature, or even greedy. Introducing a salary inquiry or negotiation in the first couple of interviews leaves a bad aftertaste and can sour your corporate relationship before it has even begun.

Most interviewees have heard from their peers that it is a big no-no to mention your salary in your first interview. However, it is not impossible, and when done right, salary negotiations can often help prospective employees end up with a better deal. 

Which leads us to the burning question: when is the right time to ask about your salary during a job interview? Is it better to bring it up then or wait for a job offer? What's the best method to bring it up if you want to? How should you approach the subject of pay during the interview?

How to Confidently Ask About Your Salary 

Here are some helpful tips you can keep in mind when asking about your salary. 

  1. Do Your Research About Salary Expectations Beforehand

The first step to conducting a successful salary inquiry is to conduct extensive research into the general remuneration for that employment position. Going into the job interview knowing what the job pays on average after doing some research and giving the interview showcasing how you deserve the average market income will lead to a better overall impression. 

Then, to acquire a sense of the firm's wage range and benefits packages, perform some company research. This can help you construct specific questions you might have about the company. It will also help show the interviewer that you have done some proactive research on the company. 

Furthermore, thorough research will enable you to have an educated and honest discussion about wage-related matters with the interviewer.

  1. Be Polite and Courteous When Approaching the Subject 

A question can be phrased in a variety of ways. You can easily get the information you want without being disrespectful if you use the right manner and approach. Make sure you carefully pick out the words you want to use. You can, for example, substitute "compensation" for "salary" or "money." It's also a good idea to request a pay range rather than a specific figure.

  1. Get the Timing of the Question Correct 

When it comes to compensation, timing is key. Asking about salary right at the start of an interview might be off-putting. However, it is okay to ask the question at the end of the first interview, especially when the interviewer asks if you have any questions for them. 

When you realize that you've piqued the interviewer's curiosity by demonstrating that you're a suitable match, it's okay to slip your salary into the conversation. This could happen at the initial interview or later in the employment process. Focus on selling yourself first, then move on to secondary things such as the salary. 

If the interviewer asks you when you can start, it is usually an indicator that an offer is on its way. This is the time to use your clout to press the interviewer for more details on the pay and perks that come with the role.

  1. Request for an Interview on the Phone 

If you've been asked to return for a second interview but are still unsure about the salary for the position, now is the time to ask about it. If you can, ask your interviewer to schedule a short interview on the phone explaining that you have a few questions to ask them and you'd like to talk about them before you come in for your final interview. 

Then, during the phone call, ask some questions about the job, including your prospective salary. You can then decide whether or not going to the second interview is worth your time. 

  1. Tell Them Why You Are Asking About the Salary 

Companies may assume you're asking for money because it's your only motivation, but you should give them a simple explanation to help them understand.

It's possible that you are fielding other job offers or that you are contemplating moving to another city or pursuing other educational or growth opportunities elsewhere. Telling them knowing a ballpark figure of what your salary may look like will help you make this decision in a better manner. 

  1. Consider the Salary Package as a Whole 

Make sure you are considering the total pay package. A rewarding job with a lower starting income may offer a strong benefits package or opportunity to learn and grow with the firm. You want to know everything there is to know about insurance coverage, retirement programs, and paid holidays. Employers with a limited hiring budget may have to sweeten the deal to seal the interview. 

  1. Have Them Write It Down Somewhere 

If you do reach a successful end to your salary inquiry and negotiation, ask your interviewer if you can have the number in writing. This will help you show that as proof if you ever need it later on during your acquisition process. 


Yes, asking about your salary can be awkward, and you don't want an employer to think money is your primary motive, but there is no doubt that your prospective salary is a big part of why you are in the job market. 

If you are asking about money early on, it's not a sign that you're not intrinsically motivated. It simply means that you are aware of your worth and value your time—and it's fine if a firm doesn't agree with you. 

If a company is unwilling to discuss compensation and benefits upfront, you should consider if you want to work for them. After all, why would they care about you once you're employed if they don't value your time now?

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it ever appropriate to discuss salary expectations in the first interview?

While traditionally discouraged, discussing salary expectations in the first interview can be appropriate if the conversation naturally leads there or if the interviewer brings it up. It's important to have done your research on industry standards and to approach the topic tactfully, ensuring it doesn't overshadow your interest in the role and the company.

How can I bring up the topic of salary without seeming too forward or aggressive?

To discuss salary without seeming aggressive, wait for a natural opening in the conversation or when the interviewer asks about your expectations. Use phrases like "I'm sure we can find a number that reflects the value I bring" or "I'm interested in finding a compensation package that is fair and competitive within the industry."

What's the best way to prepare for salary negotiations during the interview process?

Preparation for salary negotiations should include researching industry salary standards, understanding your worth based on experience and skills, and being ready to articulate your value to the company. Also, practice your negotiation conversation, so you can remain calm and professional when the topic arises.

Dave Fano

Founder and CEO of Teal, Dave is a serial entrepreneur with 20+ years of experience building products & services to help people leverage technology and achieve more with less.

We help you find
the career dream.