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job interview advice

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Expert breaks down brilliant way for answering the 'hardest interview question'

Career advisor Erin McGoff has some helpful info for navigating what she called one of the 'trickiest' parts of a job interview.

@advicewitherin/Instagram, used with permission

This part of the interview almost always comes up, and it's almost always uncomfortable.

Job hunting literally can feel like you’re out in the Sahara scavenging for your next meal…all the while knowing that there are dozens of other hunters just as starving as you are, and that there doesn’t seem to be enough morsels to go around. It all makes one anxiety-laden psychic landmine, forgive the mix of metaphors.

Even after you’ve used all the tips and tricks to make your resume stand out in a sea of other applications, using every viable SEO keyword you can scrounge up, and you do finally get the coveted interview, the stress is far from over. Certain questions feel more like traps than anything else.

But just like everything in life, a little prep, along with some expert advice, goes a long way.


But just like everything in life, a little prep, along with some expert advice, goes a long way.

Erin McGoff, aka “your internet big sister,” has all kinds of strategies for building a fulfilling career, not least of which being acing interviews.

In her mind, salary expectations are one of the “trickiest” parts of the interview to navigate.

While it might be tempting to try to give a direct number, McGoff explains how that might not be the best route to go, since that puts you at risk of being “low balled” by the company, or being written off as too expensive.

In addition, McGoff advises against:

  • Telling them what you currently make
  • Saying you “hope” or “wish” for
  • Being unprepared
  • Saying you’ll take whatever

Instead, McGoff offers a few other polite, professional scripts to use that invite more “negotiation power.”

When potential employers bring the subject up, respond with “Thank you so much for bringing that up. I would love to know the approved salary range for the position."

If the response to that is something to the effect of “there isn't a set range” or “it depends on the candidate” you can say: "Got it. Well, my salary range is flexible but I'd like to learn more about the specifics of the role before giving out a solid number."

You can also give the price range of other companies you’re applying to, McGoff says. And perhaps most importantly, she recommends reiterating that you’re “flexible on salary depending on other elements of the compensation package."

This all comes with the caveat that employers “should” be listing the salary range upfront in the job description.

This mentality is seconded by Joyel Crawford, a career coach and host of the podcast Career View Mirror, who told The Muse that giving a finite number “limits your ability to make something work with the company.”

In the same interview, Crawford mentions that it’s also worth noting that compensation can be given in other ways, depending on your values. Perhaps you can be flexible in salary to a job with a high amount of paid time off, year end bonuses, childcare benefits, etc.

Bottom line: job interviews are tough, but that’s why having some strategies in place to bring your best, even when nerves are triggered, is so important.