When speaking with job seekers about opportunities on my team, the discussion may turn to compensation, especially if it's going well and I'm trying to get a sense of their requirements.
Sometimes this part of the interview is fine, and the candidates share their current compensation and/or their ideal salary moving forward. But often, it quickly gets confusing and frustrating.
Some answers I have heard are:
"I didn't think salary would be discussed in a first-round interview."
"I would like to be paid based on the value you expect me to provide to the company."
"Career services told me to not share a salary number in an interview."
"Oh, I hate that question." OR "Oh, that's the dreaded question."
"I'm open to whatever."
It's hard to totally blame candidates for these answers, as the Web is filled with similar advice that basically guides people interviewing for jobs to avoid or deflect questions about salary.
I think that's bad advice. As a hiring manager, I want a potential new employee that understands and can express the value he or she can bring to the team. Being coy and avoiding tough questions comes off as a lack of confidence, and even a lack of preparation for the interview. Why do you "hate the question," because you don't believe you can do the job?
While I understand that most job seekers don't want to turn an interview - especially one early in the process - into a salary negotiation, I want candidates to be able to clearly communicate how much they want to make, or have been making. If they flounder with that question, I definitely wonder why they weren't prepared for that discussion, and what else they might be struggling with.