How to Address Compensation Questions During the Interview Process

Whether you are looking for an opportunity in a city or state where the practice of requesting salary history from candidates is banned or you are looking in a state that has banned the ban (yes, that is a thing), the question of compensation is still present.  If it is not a question about your current compensation, it will be about your compensation expectations.  

Next time you are asked about either, consider responding with a question of your own.  What does the position pay?  If a hire was approved, a budget was approved too.  There is a range and you are entitled to know what it is.  If the employer will not give you a compensation range, they may not be ready to hire or perhaps are not sufficiently valuing your candidacy. Either way, it is better to know before you spend time and energy going through the process.  

While you should expect the prospective employer to provide the compensation range, you also should educate yourself about the market.  Know your value.  Call the recruiters you have worked with in the past and ask them for information.  They will help you!  Recruiting is a relationship building business.  You also can do online research.  Some job posts include salary information and a quick search will provide a wealth of resources.

What should you do if you receive a lower offer than expected? Should you ask for more money?  Yes!  A lawyer’s job is to negotiate.  Show your potential future employer the skills and confidence that you will bring to your new role.  Prepare for the conversation.  Do your homework.  Why are you asking for more?  Does market research show a higher compensation range?  Are you relocating to a market where your expenses will be higher?  Do you bring additional years or a broader range of experience than they had originally planned to hire?  

When you are asking for an increase in the offer, keep in mind that all of your discussions should start with enthusiasm for the opportunity and should show confidence in your ability to succeed and add value.  Present a request for additional compensation not as a make or break issue but as a detail that you simply need to work out with your prospective new employer.  Remember… it is rarely what you ask for but how you ask that is key.  


Do you have specific compensation questions?  Call or email me for a consultation.

Amy Goldstein is the founder of Grayson Allen, Inc., a New York based attorney search and career consulting firm. She has been providing career advice and recruiting attorneys for in-house and law firm positions since 2000.