A Guide to the "What is Your Current Salary?" Interview Question

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 8 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

While interviewing for a new job, an employer may enquire about your current salary. Although many employers save this question for when it's time to negotiate your offer, others may ask it earlier in the process. To maximise your negotiating power, it's important to consider whether you feel comfortable disclosing salary information, determine the stage of the interview process you find this question appropriate and prepare a response before the interview. In this article, we discuss why an employer might ask about your current salary, when to answer it and how you can answer it effectively.

Related: How to Negotiate Your Salary (Steps and Tips)

Why employers may ask a current salary interview question

Employers might ask you about your current salary in an interview question to make sure they can offer a similar or more competitive salary. They want to have an understanding of what someone with your experience level earns. This question can also help employers ensure you have a realistic idea of what their company can offer.

If you're making considerably more than they can offer, they may discuss salary concerns with you in detail before proceeding to the next step of the interview process. If you're currently earning less than this type of position usually offers, they may be open to negotiation.

Related: How to Discuss Your Salary Expectations (With Example)

When to answer questions about your current salary

While you may feel pressured to answer this question, you can choose to decline if the timing feels inappropriate. Alternatively, you can give the interviewer a salary range that reflects your skills and experience. Ultimately, you can use your discretion to decide whether to discuss your current compensation. If you feel it can give you better negotiation power, you might want to share what you are making. If you feel this is a topic you would be more comfortable discussing later, you can politely refuse to answer.

Related: How to Answer Salary Expectations Questions in 3 Simple Steps

Tips for answering questions about your current salary

Choosing how to respond to a question about your salary depends on your confidence in getting the job, the stage of the interview process and whether you feel the interviewer asked the question in a timely and appropriate manner. Here are some tips you can use when you decline or choose to answer a current salary interview question:

When declining to answer

You may choose to decline a question about your current salary for many reasons. Here are some tips for telling interviews you would prefer not to share your salary information:

  • Know your rights: Many employers ask your current or previous salary to gain approval for the salary amount they offer you. While a hiring manager may require your current or most recent salary information to give you an official offer, you can choose to decline in the early stages of the interview process.

  • Be professional and polite: It's perfectly acceptable to avoid answering this interview question right away. If you choose to decline, explain firmly and politely that you would rather not share this information until it's necessary.

  • Know when to say no: If you prefer not to share your salary right away, you can tell the interviewer that while you understand the importance of this information, you'd rather determine whether you're a good candidate for the role before disclosing it. If you feel the interviewer fails to respond to your answer professionally, you can also decline to take further steps in the interview process and seek a position with another employer.

When deciding to answer

You may choose to disclose your salary information in a way that encourages the hiring manager to offer you a competitive salary. Here are some tips you can use when sharing your current salary with an interviewer:

  • Enquire about their reasoning: After sharing your salary, you may want to ask an employer why they would like to know this information. This can help you determine if they're asking this question for the right reasons.

  • Emphasise your promotions: If you received a pay increase at your current job, make this clear. Showing that you have performed well enough to get a raise can show that you are a qualified candidate.

  • Discuss your goals: While providing this information may help an employer determine how much to pay you, it's important that you make your career goals clear during an interview. For instance, if you hope to make more money, you can say something like, "While I currently make $200,000 per year, I am hoping to make at least $225,000 per year in this new role because of the additional responsibilities and qualifications."

  • Do your research: Give yourself some leverage by thoroughly researching what someone in the role you're applying for makes. Consider your own qualifications and credentials when determining what an appropriate salary is for you so you can shift the conversation to the salary you should make instead of the salary you are currently making.

Example answers to "What is your current salary?"

Regardless of how you choose to answer this interview question about your current salary, you can feel confident declining to share salary information or choosing to disclose it by preparing an answer before your interview. Here are some example answers you can use as inspiration to craft your own response to the question:

Ask to discuss it later

If you'd rather discuss salary later, you can use this example as inspiration when coming up with your own:

"I understand you may eventually need this information, but I feel it's early enough in the interview process that we can discuss it at a later time. In the meantime, we can talk about the responsibilities of this role. That way, I can learn more about what it entails, and you can determine if you think my qualifications make me a suitable fit for this position."

Decline to share your current salary

Here is an example of a response if you decline to disclose your current salary information:

"I feel more comfortable keeping my current salary information private right now, as I want to maintain a positive relationship with my current employer even if I accept this job. I understand you may need more information from me if you think I'm a suitable candidate for this role, and I'm open to discussing salary and benefits at a later stage of the interview process."

Share your current salary

You can use this example answer if you choose to share your current salary with the interviewer:

"I currently earn a base salary of $150,000 per year, although I sometimes earn more through bonuses and commission. I understand this information is important in deciding on a salary you might offer me, and I want to emphasise that I'm currently seeking a role with a higher base salary. I feel that my knowledge and skills qualify me for a higher-paying position, and I'm ready to start working in a more challenging role that allows me to use these skills to earn a higher salary. We can discuss salary in-depth later in the interview process."

Suggest negotiation instead

If you'd rather negotiate salary than share what you currently earn, you can use this example to help you craft your own response:

"I would rather not discuss my current salary this early in the interview process. I'm in the process of advancing in my career, so I don't feel that what I currently earn reflects the amount I'd make in a more senior position, such as this one. When the time comes to discuss a salary you can offer me, I'm open to negotiating. I don't have a set salary requirement, and I feel confident we can agree on fair compensation for this role later in the interview process."

Related: How to Negotiate Salary in an Email

Confirm your expectations

You can use this example if you choose to decline to share your salary while confirming you earn a salary that reflects your experience and skills:

"I'm not ready to disclose my current salary at this time, although I know you may require it later if you feel I'm a good fit for this job. I researched this organisation and the position we're discussing to determine what an appropriate salary would be for someone with my level of education and experience in the field. I can tell you with confidence that my salary expectations are within the range of the typical salary for this role."

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