Career Services

Lebanon Valley College

The Salary Question

Are you, as the candidate, supposed to bring up the subject of compensation during the interview process?  If so, when?  Although things will certainly be different for each employer, the general rule is that salary shouldn’t be discussed during the first interview.  And, whenever possible, let the employer bring the subject up first.

More importantly than worrying about when you should discuss it should instead be how you plan to discuss it when the time comes.  You should always do your homework prior to any interview so that you are prepared.  According to the CareerSpots video – The Salary Question – there are two sets of numbers that candidates need to know: the minimum salary that you need to make for your own financial obligations, and the average salary range for the type of position that you’re interviewing for.

That first number needs to be something realistic and well thought out; the second can be determined by researching salary information on similar positions for individuals with your level of experience and knowledge.  Don’t forget that geographic location is also a huge factor!  Understanding both of these numbers will help you to plan out a thoughtful response to the salary question.

How do you determine a salary range? The CareerSpots video offers several websites that may be helpful, including www.salary.com, www.salaryexpert.com, and www.payscale.com.  It also suggests the Bureau of Labor Statistics at www.bls.gov for tons of information, as well as professional organizations, business magazines, and online job boards for general salary information.

Another great resource, accessible through Career Services’ Resources for Students webpage is the NACE Salary Calculator Center.   The Salary Calculator’s User Guide and FAQ page indicates that “the program will reference your input information against the average salary values in our databases, and provide you with your personalized job salary data. The salary data provided to you is derived from salary survey data and compensation surveys.”

There are plenty of resources out there to help – be sure to investigate this before you ever talk with the interviewer – you don’t want to be caught off guard and unable to answer the salary question!