Tough Interview Questions - What salary range are you seeking?

Following is a tough interview question:

What salary range are you seeking?

Similar interview questions:
What is your current compensation? How much money do you need to earn to make you happy? What are your earnings expectations?

Why the interviewer is asking this question:
The interviewer is seeking to understand your needs from a compensation perspective. If your earnings expectations are not within the acceptable range, there is no point in continuing the discussion. While most companies will screen you for comp range before bringing you in for an interview, in some cases, that will be the first time the subject is broached. The interviewer may not be willing to give you the full comp range for the role, since many employers will only hire up to the mid-point. So any range being quoted may be the lower half of the actual comp range for the role.

The best approach to answering this question:
The ideal is not to give a number first. That said, a practiced interviewer may be playing the same game and not willing to give you a number, either, so your hand may be forced. Try initially to turn it around with a simple question: "What is the comp range for this role?" If the range is within an acceptable range, simply state that it is within the acceptable range. If it is at or lower than your current comp, you should give the employer insight into your total compensation and ask if there is any flexibility in going higher than the given range. If the interviewer balks at giving you a number (or range) and pushes you for what you are seeking, it is best to simply state your current comp and that you would be looking for a reasonable increase as an incentive to make a move. Note that the least said on this question, the better. Hold off for specifics until an actual offer is being prepared.

An example of how to best answer this question:
"What is the compensation range for this role? [wait for response] Thanks, that is within the expected range."

An example of how you should not answer this question:
"I consider money to be the scorecard of how I am doing in my job. Since I am one of the best at my job, I expect to be paid as one of the best. Money isn't really important to me, but it's my way of keeping score. So I compare with others in my field and if someone is making more than me, I try to find a way to get back on top."

Remember to answer each interview question behaviorally, whether it is a behavioral question or not. The easiest way to do this is to use an example from your background and experience. Then use the S-T-A-R approach to make the answer a STAR: talk about a Situation or Task (S-T), the Action you took (A) and the Results achieved (R). This is what makes your interview answer uniquely yours and will make your answer a star!