From Quora Digest
This is a bit of an art form. But the rules are simple. Whoever speaks a number first, loses. Typically a hiring manager or HR representative will ask a question like:
“What are your salary requirements?”
Don’t answer this question with a number or that will be your salary offer, or very close. Instead, answer with reasons why you can’t give them a number. It’s best to have different ways to say the same thing – which bluntly is “are you kidding? I’m not giving you a number” but are much more respectful than that. Here are some example answers that contain no actual salary numbers.
“Well, it’s hard to answer this question as many things factor into that answer. For instance, what is the full benefits package? Is there a bonus structure and how likely will it be to attain most of it? What is the vacation accrual schedule? You know, things like that.”
Then when they ask again, “yeah well just tell me what you made in your last position.”
Again, don’t answer with a number. Say something like:
“Well, I took a pay cut at that role because it was a horizontal move into a position that was new to me, but I wanted the experience. Now that I have 5 years of experience, I feel like I need to assess what the market pays for an experienced person in that role. I feel confident I am among the best skilled people in this role so I feel sharing past salary info is misleading for where I am now.”
Then ask your own question:
“What is your salary budget for this role?” And then be quiet.
Most hiring managers or IT folks won’t answer this, but what you want them to do is make an offer in writing for you to discuss with your partner, or spouse, or mentors (as the case may be) and so you can assess the entire offer, not just the salary.
If you are disciplined and don’t answer any question about salary with a number, you will almost always come out on top. The pressure to give them a number might be high, but respectfully declining and answering with thoughtful answers (not a number) like above, will usually yield the highest dollar amount they can offer you or something close. If they go to the trouble to write you an offer, they want you, so why not force them to pay you what they think it will take to get you, rather than some lower salary amount you just happen to tell them you would settle for by saying a number.