THE BRAZEN CAREERIST- Keep quiet: Don't reveal salary expectations first

My advice about how to interview: tell good stories, ask good questions, be a closer. But here's the one most important thing to remember: when it comes to discussing your potential salary, never give the number first.

The right answer to the question, "What's your salary range?" almost always should be some version of "I'm not telling you."

The person who gives the first number sets the starting point. If that's you, you lose. If you request a salary higher than the range, the interviewer will tell you you're high, and you've just lost money. If you request a salary lower than the range, the interviewer will say nothing, and you've just lost money.

You can only hurt yourself giving a number first. You want the interviewer to tell you the range for the position; that lets you focus on getting to the high end of that range. You can't work to the high point if you don't know it.

If there are two good salary negotiators in the room, they'll vie to see who gives the first number. Fortunately, the company can't make you an offer without offering a salary, so the cards are stacked in your favor. Hold your ground.

Consider these responses to the ways the interviewer will ask how much money you expect to make. The more times you can avoid the question, the less likely you'll have to be the one giving the first number. This works even if you don't have the upper hand and you really need the job.

* What salary range are you looking for? "Let's talk about the job requirements and expectations first, so I can get a sense of what you need." 

* What did you make at your last job? "This position is not exactly the same. Let's discuss what my responsibilities would be here and then determine a fair salary." It's hard to argue with words like "fair" and "responsibilities"— you're earning respect with this one.

* What salary are you expecting to make? "I'm interested in finding a job that's a good fit. I'm sure whatever salary you're paying is consistent with the market." In other words, I respect myself and I want to think I can respect this company.

*I need to know what salary you want in order to make you an offer. Tell me a range. "I'd appreciate it if you could make me an offer based on whatever you've budgeted for this position, and we can go from there." This is a pretty direct response, so using a word like "appreciate" focuses on drawing out the interviewer's better qualities.

* Why don't you want to give your salary requirements? "I think you have a good idea of what this position is worth to your company, and that's important information for me to know." Enough dancing– this is one last attempt to force you to give the number first. Hold your line here, and you win.

You can see the pattern, right? 

If you think you sound obnoxious or obstinate by not answering the question, think of how he feels asking the question more than once. The interviewer is just trying to get a negotiating leg up on you. If you give in, you look like a poor negotiator, and the interviewer is probably not looking for someone like that.

Stand your ground, and understand that the interviewer is being as insistent as you are. Research shows that if you mirror the behavior of the interviewer, you're more likely to get the job. Sure, this usually applies to tone of voice, level of enthusiasm, and body language, but who's to say it doesn't apply to negotiation tactics, too? Try it. You could come away a lot richer.