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For in-house lawyer interviewees, questions about salary expectations can often induce foot-in-mouth-itis. You know, that particular affliction where you say the wrong thing because you weren't prepared.
Fortunately, for those soon-to-be in-house lawyer interviewees, if you prepare properly, you might be able to use the fear inducing salary question to talk yourself up, or at least make yourself look confident. Below, you can read about a few ways to respond without over or under selling yourself.
Determine Market Value
If you're going in for an interview, you should know as much about your potential employer as possible. If it's a public company, you should be able to research what the top executives get paid, and may even be able to dig up numbers on the company's general counsel. Additionally, several other sources can help to provide general market data on what various in-house counsel get paid in similar industries. Also, research what kind of benefits they offer, because some are rather valuable.
Once you know what your market rate is, and what that employer (or others in the same industry) offer, you shouldn't shy away from asking for it. If there was no salary range on the job description that you applied to, then it is safe to assume that the employer expects to pay market rate.
Depend on the Details
Generally, while a position may seem to only have mediocre pay, if there are fringe benefits, such as medical benefits that are fully employer paid, or great telecommute, flexible scheduling, or daycare options, that can also be something to consider. When asked, you can qualify your range by explaining that your salary requirements depend on the expectations and demands of the position. This will give you a basis to negotiate an offer up, if you get one.
Shock and Awesome
Asking for above market rate can sometimes work in your favor. It can also backfire. So proceed with caution.
But, if you can back up your demand for above market rate pay with confidence and an impressive resume, you'll be high in the running if you also express that you'd happily be negotiable for the right job. Remember, if you're even being interviewed, it's because you passed some initial screening, and the company thinks you could fit.