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How should I respond when an interviewer asks what is your current base salary?


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The discussion of who names a number first during salary negotiations continues: "Never ever answer this! You're not applying for your current job, you're applying for a new job and your salary should be related to the value you're offering the new place. " "Personally I would always answer honestly, but add context to frame it. I always did myself when applying for jobs. I expect the same from applicants when hiring." "I usually advise answering a question about salary directly. Why? It sets expectations. Do you really want to spend a ton of time talking to a company only to find out that their expectation for you is 10K less? This is one I advise answering."

So the candidate should just not give an answer?

Recruiters do not recommend that. Not giving an answer is a tactic, for sure. When a candidate uses it I usually explain that we need to make sure we are on the same page - and then I give a "median" salary for the position. After that I usually get a range in response or the minimum they will agree to. Recruiters do not negotiate, but I usually know which amount is in the "out of the question" range.

So basically you ask to save time but not getting an answer is ok.

Then you just give a range to see if it's compatible with the candidate. 

Exactly. 

Interestingly, most of the time candidates are OK with telling me either their current salary or their desired salary.  Sometimes they say they do not know - if this is a first job out of school, or they are new to the area, - in such cases I recommend they check Glassdoor because it helps to have a (researched) number in mind by the time they talk to somebody who IS entitled to negotiate.

That's a good idea. In general job candidates don't like to negotiate. They just want to get started. 

Very useful insight Masha. Recruiters don't negotiate, they just check that the range is realistic... so unless you know you're way off the charts on the high or low side, it's fine to just tell the recruiter. Then if you get to the offer stage, be prepared to negotiate with the hiring manager.