How to Answer the Salary Question During a Job Interview

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iStock

Negotiating your salary may be awkward, but it’s also incredibly important. Your starting salary sets the bar for your future earnings, from overtime to raises and promotions. So, when the topic inevitably comes up during your job interview, you want to be prepared. Here’s how to approach the subject.

ARM YOURSELF WITH RESEARCH.

It should go without saying, but research is key to nailing your job interview, and that includes the salary question. You can get an idea of what the market rate for your position is using sites that crowdsource salary information, like Glassdoor and PayScale.

“If you review this data prior to an interview you will at least have an idea of what the range is for the type of position you are applying for,” says David Carlson, author of Hustle Away Debt. “If you’re interviewing at a smaller firm that doesn’t have salary data available, consider looking at the average pay at large firms. It’s better to go into the interview with this information than nothing at all.”

Also, the nonprofit Educate to Career has a free salary calculator to help you determine your salary benchmark, based on your occupation and location.

WAIT UNTIL YOU HAVE AN OFFER.

What’s your current salary? What’s your salary range? When your potential employer finally asks the million dollar question, keep in mind: It’s a loaded one. By tossing out a number, you automatically anchor a value to your work.

“Discussing your salary during a job interview almost always favors the employer,” Carlson says. “Keep this in mind if the interviewer asks you what salary you are looking for.”

The company should offer you a salary based on your skills and experience, and tossing out a number too early can diminish that. In other words, you don’t want to put a price tag on your work before the employer even has a chance to value it themselves.

“Politely tell the interviewer you would be open to discussing your desired salary but would prefer to wait until you have an official job offer,” says Carlson. “This may not be what the interviewer wants to hear, but it can help shut down the salary discussion.”

TRY THE “BRIEFCASE TECHNIQUE.”

Author and entrepreneur Ramit Sethi recommends a specific technique for answering the salary question. He’s dubbed it the “Briefcase Technique.” You can see how it’s done in this video, but here’s how Sethi breaks it down:

“So the client says, 'You know, I'm really just curious. What's your price here?' And what you say at that point is, 'Oh, actually, before we get to that, let me just show you something I put together.' And you literally pull out, from your briefcase, a [one- to five-page] proposal document. And this proposal ... is actually about things you found in their business that you could improve, and exactly how you would go through it.”

With the Briefcase Technique, you’re already offering something to work with. This encourages the employer to determine your value based on your skills, work ethic, and drive—not just a number. It’s not something every job candidate will do, and that’s part of the reason it works so well.

AIM HIGH.

But what do you do if the employer pushes the issue? "If you keep getting pushed to name a salary you could mention the higher end of the range,” Carlson says. “Think of the number you mention as the ‘ceiling’ of what your offer would be—it’s unlikely they are going to offer you more than you ask for.”

According to Clarke University, most employers can budget 15 to 20 percent more than they initially offer. This is important to keep in mind if the employer listed a salary range in the job posting or makes you an offer below market rate. Don't assume there's no wiggle room and walk away too soon.

Once you have an offer in hand (no sooner, if you can avoid it), Carlson recommends, it's time to begin your negotiating in earnest. 

10 of the Most Popular Portable Bluetooth Speakers on Amazon

Altech/Bose/JBL/Amazon
Altech/Bose/JBL/Amazon

As convenient as smartphones and tablets are, they don’t necessarily offer the best sound quality. But a well-built portable speaker can fill that need. And whether you’re looking for a speaker to use in the shower or a device to take on a long camping trip, these bestselling models from Amazon have you covered.

1. OontZ Angle 3 Bluetooth Portable Speaker; $26-$30 (4.4 stars)

Oontz portable bluetooth speaker
Cambridge Soundworks/Amazon

Of the 57,000-plus reviews that users have left for this speaker on Amazon, 72 percent of them are five stars. So it should come as no surprise that this is currently the best-selling portable Bluetooth speaker on the site. It comes in eight different colors and can play for up to 14 hours straight after a full charge. Plus, it’s splash proof, making it a perfect speaker for the shower, beach, or pool.

Buy it: Amazon

2. JBL Charge 3 Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker; $110 (4.6 stars)

JBL portable bluetooth speaker
JBL/Amazon

This nifty speaker can connect with up to three devices at one time, so you and your friends can take turns sharing your favorite music. Its built-in battery can play music for up to 20 hours, and it can even charge smartphones and tablets via USB.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Anker Soundcore Bluetooth Speaker; $25-$28 (4.6 stars)

Anker portable bluetooth speaker
Anker/Amazon

This speaker boasts 24-hour battery life and a strong Bluetooth connection within a 66-foot radius. It also comes with a built-in microphone so you can easily take calls over speakerphone.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Bose SoundLink Color Bluetooth Speaker; $129 (4.4 stars)

Bose portable bluetooth speaker
Bose/Amazon

Bose is well-known for building user-friendly products that offer excellent sound quality. This portable speaker lets you connect to the Bose app, which makes it easier to switch between devices and personalize your settings. It’s also water-resistant, making it durable enough to handle a day at the pool or beach.

Buy it: Amazon

5. DOSS Soundbox Touch Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker; $28-$33 (4.4 stars)

DOSS portable bluetooth speaker
DOSS/Amazon

This portable speaker features an elegant system of touch controls that lets you easily switch between three methods of playing audio—Bluetooth, Micro SD, or auxiliary input. It can play for up to 20 hours after a full charge.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Altec Lansing Mini Wireless Bluetooth Speaker; $15-$20 (4.3 stars)

Altec Lansing portable bluetooth speaker
Altec Lansing/Amazon

This lightweight speaker is built for the outdoors. With its certified IP67 rating—meaning that it’s fully waterproof, shockproof, and dust proof—it’s durable enough to withstand harsh environments. Plus, it comes with a carabiner that can attach to a backpack or belt loop.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Tribit XSound Go Bluetooth Speaker; $33-$38 (4.6 stars)

Tribit portable bluetooth speaker
Tribit/Amazon

Tribit’s portable Bluetooth speaker weighs less than a pound and is fully waterproof and resistant to scratches and drops. It also comes with a tear-resistant strap for easy transportation, and the rechargeable battery can handle up to 24 hours of continuous use after a full charge. In 2020, it was Wirecutter's pick as the best budget portable Bluetooth speaker on the market.

Buy it: Amazon

8. VicTsing SoundHot C6 Portable Bluetooth Speaker; $18 (4.3 stars)

VicTsing portable bluetooth speaker
VicTsing/Amazon

The SoundHot portable Bluetooth speaker is designed for convenience wherever you go. It comes with a detachable suction cup and a carabiner so you can keep it secure while you’re showering, kayaking, or hiking, to name just a few.

Buy it: Amazon

9. AOMAIS Sport II Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker; $30 (4.4 stars)

AOMAIS portable bluetooth speaker
AOMAIS/Amazon

This portable speaker is certified to handle deep waters and harsh weather, making it perfect for your next big adventure. It can play for up to 15 hours on a full charge and offers a stable Bluetooth connection within a 100-foot radius.

Buy it: Amazon

10. XLEADER SoundAngel Touch Bluetooth Speaker; $19-$23 (4.4 stars)

XLeader portable bluetooth speaker
XLEADER/Amazon

This stylish device is available in black, silver, gold, and rose gold. Plus, it’s equipped with Bluetooth 5.0, a more powerful technology that can pair with devices up to 800 feet away. The SoundAngel speaker itself isn’t water-resistant, but it comes with a waterproof case for protection in less-than-ideal conditions.

Buy it: Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

5 Ingenious Tricks for Saving Burnt Cookies

"Please bake our brethren on the middle rack next time."
"Please bake our brethren on the middle rack next time."
cnicbc/iStock via Getty Images

It doesn’t take long for cookies to go from an irresistible golden brown to a dispiriting black (especially if you're baking at a high altitude). But before you toss them in the trash and start rummaging around in your pantry for a store-bought snack, we have a few suggestions for saving that imperfect batch.

1. Grate off the burnt bits of cookie with a zester or cheese grater.

As PureWow explains, all you have to do is slide the cookie along your cheese grater to get rid of the burnt layer on the bottom. The smaller the holes, the better, so a lemon zester works well for this, too.

2. Scrape the burned part of the cookie off with a knife.

If you don’t have a cheese grater, you can get the same results with a regular knife—it just might take you an extra minute or two. Instead of slicing off the entire bottom of the cookie, hold your knife blade perpendicular to the bottom of the cookie and carefully scrape away the burnt crumbs.

3. Store the burned cookies in a jar with a piece of bread.

Even after you’ve shaved off the blackened evidence of your culinary blunder, your cookies might still be crispier than you’d prefer. Store them in an airtight container with a slice of bread—they’ll soak up the moisture and soften right up.

4. Make ice cream sandwiches with your burned cookies.

Snobby snackers won’t scoff at your grated cookies if they can’t even see the bottoms. Slather one with a nice, thick layer of ice cream, slap another one on top, and roll the edges in your favorite topping for a treat that’s better than any cookie—burnt or not.

5. Transform your burned cookies into a cookie crust.

For charred, crunchy cookies that seem beyond salvation, you can completely cut off the burnt bottoms, crush the remains, and turn them into a cookie crust for a pie or cheesecake. Here’s a simple recipe from the Pioneer Woman that calls for three ingredients: cookie crumbs, butter, and sugar.