The Worst Interview Question of Them All

Sample answers for tactful evasion so you don't sound rude.

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Outside Voices - ''Working Girl'' aka Karen Burns
No, it's not "If you were a breakfast cereal, which kind would you be?"

Although that's close.

It's this: "What is your salary history?"

You will want to say, "It's really none of your business." But it's hard to pull that off without sounding snarky. So here are four sample answers. Take your pick.

1. I'm pretty flexible about salary. However, I do believe that my compensation should be commensurate with my value to your company. What's your salary range, by the way?

2. Oh, sorry, my current employer prohibits disclosure of salary information. What's your salary range, by the way?

3. I've done a lot of research and learned that the going rate for this job ranges from x to y thousand dollars. What's your salary range, by the way?

4. I'd love to discuss salary expectations. I'm assuming you pay a fair and reasonable market rate, which is what I'm looking for. What's your salary range, by the way?

Remain cool. Smile. Continue to throw the ball back into their court.

If the interviewer really insists, saying that he must have your salary history or else—well, that tells you something about the company. You might need to say, "I don't believe my current salary has bearing on any future salary, which should be based on my experience, skills, responsibilities, and the market rate for this type of job."

Then you might want to consider expanding your job hunt.

Karen Burns , Working Girl, is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use, to be released by Running Press in April 2009. She blogs at karenburnsworkinggirl.com .

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