Asking about Salary – C2 Reading

job interviews

How do you know if the salary is worth your time?

Can you determine the meaning of the words from the context?
blunt – adjective
bluntly – adverb
invest – verb
pursue – verb
meet – verb
disclose – verb
bring up – phrasal verb
tactful – adjective
budget – noun/verb
support yourself – verb + reflexive noun
aim – verb
perks – noun
in lieu of – preposition
arm yourself – verb + reflexive noun
background – adjective
frame – verb
earnings – noun
convey – verb
on the same page – idiomatic expression
broad – adjective

Asking about salary when you are meeting with a potential employer can be a bit delicate. On one hand, asking about compensation too early or too bluntly gives a bad impression. On the other hand, you don’t want to invest a lot of time pursuing jobs that don’t meet your needs.

Occasionally, interviewers disclose the salary range up front, or it might even be indicated in the job posting. But this is uncommon. The convention is for applicants to wait for a job offer, or at least until a second interview before bringing up compensation.

Here are some things to keep in mind, in order to ask about salary and benefits in a tactful way:

1.) Know the compensation that you expect and require in order to accept a position. Make a monthly budget so that you know how much you need to support yourself, and aim for even a modest increase from your last job. Consider what perks and benefits might you accept in lieu of a higher pay check.

2.) Arm yourself with background knowledge. Use an online tool like to research the pay range of similar positions in different companies.

3.) Frame your salary and benefit questions carefully. Interviewers want to see that applicants are enthusiastic about the company and the opportunity. Statements like ‘I really need this job’, and blunt questions about earnings convey the opposite.

Tell the interviews why you are asking. If you have the impression that the interviewers are considering you for the job, you could explain that you think you would be an excellent fit for the role, but you want to respect their time.

Biron Clark, an expert in recruiting and interviewing, suggests the following:

“The role sounds great so far. I do want to just make sure we’re on the same page in terms of compensation, at least in broad terms. I compared the data from a few online salary calculators, and it seems that the average base compensation for this position here in Boston falls between $50,000 and $70,000. Does that fit the range you’ve budgeted for this role?” (Asking Salary in an Interview: How and When)

4.) Don’t divulge your current or past salary! Sometimes, interviewers will ask you about your salary history. This is often a way to determine your market value and it doesn’t usually work in your favour. You can avoid answering the question directly by referring to general pay ranges for your previous job positions. You can also redirect the conversation towards your strengths and expectations.

Here is an example of a good response. ‘Based on my skills and ten years of experience, I would expect a compensation package in the range of $50.000 to $70.000 a year.’

Job interviews can be daunting, and it can be difficult to assert yourself when there is such a clear imbalance of power. But with solid research, proper preparation, and with some practice, you will have the confidence and skills to get the job, and the compensation that you deserve.

Comprehension Questions

1.) According to the article, what are the challenges around asking about salary?
2.) Why is it important to know your budget before you attend a job interview?
3.) What research does the article suggest you do?
4.) Should you tell potential employers about your current or past salaries? Why or why not?