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3 Answers to: How Much Do You Want to Make?

Talking about money is super awkward. This can be especially true in a job interview setting. You don’t want to lose the position by seeming greedy or outlandish, On the other hand, you certainly don’t want to sell yourself short with too safe a reply when you’re asked “How much do you want to make?”. Many employers compensate nurse practitioners a set salary or hourly rate across the board eliminating this awkwardness. Others embrace the negotiation process. If you’re in the market for a new nurse practitioner position, it’s time to sharpen your interview tactics

There are a few ways to respond to the “How much do you want to make?” question in a job interview. The route you take should depend on how important salary is to you, your comfort level in executing the delivery of each reply (practice, practice, practice!), and the tone of your prior communication with employer. Taking these things into account, here are a few ways NPs may respond when an interviewer drops the all-important “How much do you want to make?”. 

1. Hold your ground with a non-response

In an ideal world, you won’t give the first number in a salary negotiation. Avoid revealing your desired salary or salary range if possible. This way, you don’t sell yourself short and have a better frame of reference to negotiate from. Many nurse practitioners aren’t comfortable with the negotiation game. So, if you’re going to take this approach, practice with a friend and get your game face on.

When an interviewer asks “How much do you want to make?”, here are a few ways to reply with a non-response. 

  • “I’m most concerned with finding a job that’s the right fit for me. I’m sure whatever salary you are offering will be fair given the job responsibilities”. Words like ‘fair’ are hard to argue with. 
  • “First, let’s discuss the requirements and expectations of the position so I can get a better idea as to what the job entails”. This takes the pressure off and moves the conversation gently away from money giving your employer another roundabout way to offer the first number.
  • “Since you have a better idea as to what the position is worth to your company and the amount you have budgeted toward the position, I think you are in a better place to make me an offer and we can go from there”. This approach is direct but likely to get you off the hook in naming the starting place for salary negotiations

Your interviewer may ask you to give the first number multiple times in different ways, so, be prepared to reply with more than one of these responses. Do your background research (see the next point) so you’re ready to respond if needed. Avoid being abrasive or too firm with the non-response approach or you’ll come across as arrogant. 

2. Reply with a favorable range

Regardless of what you anticipate your salary negotiation tactic will be, it’s imperative to go into a job interview informed. Do some research into the average nurse practitioner salary for your city and state. If possible, look into salary ranges for the specific specialty to which you are applying as well. Given the job description, your background research into the job market, your level of experience and personal financial needs, how little would you take to accept the position? What would a reasonable ‘dream’ salary be? Now, you have a range within which you are comfortable accepting the position. Identify the midpoint of this range.

When asked how much you are expecting to make, throw out the bottom number and state that you are hoping to make “somewhere between ___ and ___” filling in the blanks with your midpoint and ‘dream’ salary. Negotiations tend to trend downward so aiming (reasonably) high is favorable. And, you have some room to work with if the employer balks at your stated range. 

This approach is also a helpful exercise for online applications that force applicants to name a desired salary range. 

3. Just say it

If you have a good idea of what you should be earning in your nurse practitioner role and are confident as to your value to a company, name a price. Yes, you may sell yourself short. Or, the employer may balk at your desired pay for the position. Be aware that if you name a salary, you lose your ability to negotiate for more than the number you stated whether the employer agrees to your ask or negotiates. Make sure you are comfortable with your stated salary requirement.