NEW YORK (MainStreet) — You're sitting down at a job interview and you get asked the most awkward question of all: "What are you earning at your current position?" It's always a little uncomfortable to get asked what you earn. But it's even more uncomfortable to get asked that by a prospective employer. After all, you don't want to undervalue yourself. And if you know you're not making enough, that makes it even harder to ask for much more should you land the new position. So how do you respond to this question when you inevitably get asked during a job interview?
Tactic One: Being Straightforward
Patricia O'Neil Messer, an HR consultant with Insight Performancem, says that you should be right up front about your current salary from the word go. "Stonewalling and saying nothing is a really bad idea," she says. "I want to immediately hang up the phone when a candidate does that." In fact, she says that it's a major red flag when it comes to hiring. "They're not telling me for a reason and maybe they're just very difficult," she added.
So what if you're not making enough at your current job? "If you think you're being paid under market value that's all you really need to say," she says. From there, you start having a conversation about why you think you're underpaid. If you're leaving your current job to make more money, you need to be honest about that. You also need to explain to them why you're worth what you're asking for.
On the other hand you might be overpaid and not want to take yourself out of the running. "There are people who are making way more than industry average and need to be up front about that as well," says O'Neil Messer. This includes explaining why you're being paid so high above market average. How is the company going to get a return on their investment by hiring you? That could be that you just work for a company that pays a lot. Or it might be because you've taken on a lot of responsibilities that aren't in the normal wheelhouse of your job description.
Either way, the important thing, according to O'Neil Messer, is to be honest. "Don't lie," she says. "It will usually come out, and when it does, you're going to lose your job. Employers verify."
Tactic Two: Don't Talk About It...