Many candidates fear being asked about their weaknesses. However, there is another question that can truly be an interview killer. ‘How Much Did You Make at Your Last Job’ can bring an interview to a screeching halt. After the jump we’ll provide an explanation as to why it’s asked and how to answer.

Knowing Your Worth

Usually there is a specific reason this question is being asked. If you are an incredibly qualified candidate, they could be wondering if they can afford you. On the other hand, they could believe you were paid less in your previous position. In this case they are likely hoping to get a bargain. If they are trying to low-ball you, they will likely be persistent in getting a figure from your last position. There are a few ways to try and refocus the negotiation. However, it is possible the interviewer will simply insist.

Employees Discussing SalaryStill, there are a few tactics you can try. One option is to try and focus on your target salary. If you have done some research on what is typical of that type position, this will give you a small amount of bargaining leverage. Keep in mind experience and location should factor into that equation. You can also discuss how your responsibilities for this role would be different and thus should be compensated differently. If you are feeling extremely confident that they are interested in you, you can ask what their range is for the position. This is a risky move to make, but it could pay off if they share the information.

Making a Final Decision

If you are in a position where the interviewer has demanded that you tell them, you have two options. You can refuse and walk out. Obviously this will exclude you from their search and completely eliminate your chances of landing the job. Your other option is to give in and tell them. If you do, they may return with an offer you don’t like. In that case, tell them why you feel as if you deserve more compensation. If they are really interested in you and your qualifications they will reach back out.

In closing I will state that this is a question we ask all of our candidates at Walrath Recruiting, although not in the exact wording. This is not an attempt to low-ball you or devalue your qualifications. When one of our clients approaches us with an open position, they give us a salary range. We are simply asking so we don’t waste your time with offers above our below your salary level. All recruiters are paid commission based on the first year salary, so we absolutely want you to get the salary you are qualified for.

We hope this provides you with a better understanding of how to approach what can be a challenging interview question. Hopefully you also now know why you may be asked the question as a candidate for Walrath Recruiting. Check back with us tomorrow for an industry highlight!