November 15, 2023
min read

How to Ensure a Reasonable Salary Before an Interview

Luis Minvielle

Are you tired of getting to advanced interview stages only to learn that the salary for the “dynamic team leader” job you’re applying for is implausibly low? Don’t want to finish a great meeting only to realise you never asked about the numbers?

Whether you’ve experienced this in previous interviews or are a new one in the job hunting process, finding out if the job you’re applying to offers a reasonable salary will save you valuable time. We’ll discuss how to do so swiftly and tactfully without risking the job opportunity. 

Trading Remote Work for Salary Reduction →

Is it OK to ask for a salary range before an interview? 

Yes. It is perfectly reasonable to ask for the range for the role when you contact the company to make inquiries. Your time is valuable — It’s a waste of time for both you and the interviewers if you’re just going to decline due to compensation. Do you know why the salary is called a compensation? It’s because they’re reimbursing you for the time—the most fleeting asset out there—you provide to their endeavour. So protecting your time from the start is actually… pretty attractive for them.

How to find out the salary of a job before the interview

The best way to ask about the salary range before your interview is to be direct and upfront. If they won't give info about salary, then — red flag 🚩. Don't waste your time talking to them.

The best advice is to know and understand your value before the interview. Salaries are not a secret. Talk to friends and colleagues in the industry and research online. You can start looking at sources such as Glassdoor. Remember, it's important to share a specified pay range along with a justification, rather than becoming attached to a certain number. 

Timing of Salary Discussion Manager %
First In-Person Interview 35%
Second Meeting 20%
When Making the Job Offer 15%
Initial Phone/Video Screening 13%

When the time to ask has come, choose the platform you’re most comfortable with. Writing an email gives you a time advantage — you can write and rewrite the message as many times as you please. On the other hand, a phone call will let you hear the employee's live reaction. Most communication before an interview happens via email, so if that is your case, then it makes sense to continue that way — this will take pressure off the matter as well. 

What to ask

Here are some examples that will work wonders. You can email them to the recruiter or mention them during one of the phone calls before the interview. 

If you want to be brief but effective:

  1. “Hey, I’m excited, and the salary is a fundamental part of why I work; what’s the salary range?” 
  1. “It sounds interesting, and I'm eager to learn more. Could you provide a top-line overview and range first?”
  1. “Thanks so much for thinking of me for this position! While I am flattered, I'd like to ensure that an interview is the best use of everyone's time. Could you share the salary range for this position?”

If you’re looking to be direct:

  1. “Hey, I’m looking for 9k a month — I would rather not waste your time, so I wanted to let you know.” (Remember to focus on the recruiter rather than on yourself; this will benefit both). 
  1. “Thanks so much for thinking of me for this position! While I am flattered, I'd like to ensure that an interview is the best use of everyone's time. I am looking for a salary of 140–160k (set your range high, since you are essentially anchoring negotiation here), with some flexibility based on benefits. Does this position fit that criteria?”
  1. From what I’m seeing in the market, similar roles with this job title here in [Vienna] pay a salary of €57k. Does the salary for this position fit within that range? I’m mainly focused on finding a new job that fits my career goals and skills, but I also want to make sure we’re on the same page in terms of compensation.

Including data-backed arguments regarding salary expectations will lead to less confrontation in future interviews. It won’t bode well if you say you’re asking for 160k “because you felt like it.” Not that it’s wrong to express your feelings, but you’re here to attain a desirable outcome, and being stone-cold is a better strategy.

Also, for the sanity of your interviewer, and considering they’re European, talk about a monthly salary, not an annual salary. Dividing by twelve is easy unless you’re in the hot seat of securing a top tech candidate for a growing company.

If you're looking for a very polite approach:

  1. “Hello, thank you so much for the opportunity to interview for your company, in advance of our scheduled interview I wanted to ask if you could provide the salary range for this role. While money is not the only deciding factor, I'm currently interviewing with some other companies, and if the salary does not align with some of my other opportunities, I do not wish to waste your time.”

How to politely decline

These examples are non-combative and surely will get a response. It is fair to politely decline if you get anything apart from that: “While I am actively looking, I prefer to talk to more open companies. I would love to go forward, but I need an overview. You are welcome to contact me in the future.”

How to negotiate once you know the salary range 

Know that it can sometimes be worth pushing for a little over the defined range — but don’t do this before taking an interview. Balance is key as you would rather not come out as too money-focused. Asking about the range and negotiating the salary are two entirely different things. If the hiring manager is not sure if they want to hire you, then you have no basis to make demands. The closer you are to getting the job, the better. Pure market dynamics. The more they imagine you being part of their team, the better chance at negotiating. 

Either way, you need to know the market rate of your role and what people in similar jobs at your location with your level of experience are making. Once you have this information, you'll be prepared to negotiate. The best approach to getting what you want is making a data-backed argument for yourself — this way you’ll also avoid confrontation. 

Realistic software engineering salaries →

Accepting the interviews that work for you

Get used to asking recruiters for the salary range before you agree to an interview. This way you'll be sure no time is being wasted when taking an interview. Now, the final decision is yours. Browse through our job board to see if any jobs interest you! WeAreDevelopers matches developers with top European companies that will answer salary expectations immediately. Good luck on your job hunt! 

How to Ensure a Reasonable Salary Before an Interview

November 15, 2023
min read

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