Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter explains how to answer this tricky interview question, both when times are good and when economic times are not good.

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I'm back with another, those tough interview questions to help you land your next job more quickly by performing better on your interviews. Today's tough interview question, I think is hysterical. But there was a legitimate purpose to it. The question is, "So, why is your salary so high?" It's always asked with, even if they don't say it that way, they don't . . . That's the implication to it. You hear it that way. "Why is your salary so high?"
So there's two ways to answer it. The first one is, "When times are good and a firm is suggesting without question that their budget is less than what you're currently earning, that is the message behind the question, reply by saying, "You know, it's not that my salary is so high, but understand, there's the obvious parts doing such and such kind of work, but then, the less obvious parts of what I've done," and then you go into a full blown, full court press talking about everything that you do beyond simply your job description, the basics of your job description, that demonstrate why you were an extraordinary employee for your current firm. So, you have to think about that one in advance, and use that as as an approach when times are good.
Now, here's the subtlety that very few people talk with you about. Let's look at when times are bad and the market's collapsed for what you do. You're making more than then what most firms are going to pay and they ask you that question. When times are bad, you have to go humble on them and say, "You know, the reality is I was paid more than market and my firm chose to do that. Who am I to argue with them. They wanted to pay me more, but I understand that the market is such a such for this kind of role." You offer them a salary range, "and I'm fully prepared to come down to that price."
So again, when times are good, you go in and answer that question by talking about all the extra things that you do beyond simply the normal ones and when times are bad, you may talk about some of those things as well and build yourself up. But, you continue by saying, "but I understand my firm was overpaying for what I did and as a result, I understand that the market is at a range of such as such as such and such. And I'm prepared to accept that."


Jeff Atlman - Job Hunting Coach - Job Search CoachJeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1500 episodes and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice.” He is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council. “No BS JobSearch Advice Radio” was recently named a Top 10 podcast for job search. was also recently named a Top 10 YouTube channel for job search.

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