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It pays to be honest

Published on Friday, 16 Aug 2013
Marc Burrage

No matter how experienced a person is at interviews or how senior they are in their current role, more often than not, everyone going into an interview has that same nagging question in the back of their head: what should I say when I'm asked about my current salary?

Rest assured, this question is not a trap. Such a question is really as straightforward as it sounds. The recruitment consultant or employer simply wants to understand your salary expectations.

Should you exaggerate by 10 or 20 per cent, just to get ahead? Will the recruiter find out? Is your salary anyone's business? It is normal for these questions to run through your head, but it is risky to follow through with them.

You need to ask yourself: is it really your style to lie? Always remember you are talking to people who should know the market and the salary range for your role. One untruth revealed will cast doubt on everything else you say.

You could choose not to answer. That is up to you. However, always remain polite and be prepared for how this approach might be viewed.

The best way to answer is to be honest about what you are earning - or the salary band into which you fit - as well as honest about what you believe you should be earning in the role for which you are interviewing. Being honest doesn't have to limit you and is a much better way of starting a relationship with a new company than on a lie.

If you are in doubt as to what salary band you fit into, you can always check the most recent, reliable and up-to-date sources available, such as the 2013 Hays Salary Guide.

Marc Burrage, regional director of Hays in Hong Kong

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