Why Are You Making So Much Money?


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.



I think today’s tough interview question is hysterical but there was a legitimate purpose to it.  The question is, “Why is your salary so high?”  

Even if they don’t say it in that sort of voice that sounds serious and accusation all, you will hear it that way.

There are 2 ways to answer this question.

Firms are suggesting with this question that their budget for this job  is less than what your current salary is.

It’s not the my cell is so high per se, there are the obvious parts of doing such and such type of work and the less obvious parts.” Then you go on to a full-court full-blown defense of what you’ve done and how you went about doing it, as well as everything that you do beyond you job description that demonstrated why you are an extraordinary employee for your current organization.  This is an answer that you need to think about in advance to explain why you justify the money when times are good.

Now, let’s look at how to answer this question. When times are bad, the market’s collapse for what you do and you are definitely earning more than the market is willing to pay.

When times are bad you have to go “humble” on them.

“The reality is I was paid more than market value, my firm chose to do that and who am I to argue with that!  I understand that now the market is at such and such level for this kind of role (and then you mentioned the salary range) and I am fully prepared to come down to that price range.”

Again, when times are good, you go in talking about all the extra things that you do; when times are bad, you may start off by talking about some of those extra things as well and then shift gears and be humble and saying, “Yes, I understand I was being overpaid for what I do and I understand that the range for this kind of role now is between such and such and such and such and I am prepared to accept the salary offer in that area.



Do you think employers are trying to help you? You already know you can’t trust recruiters—they tell you as much as they think you need to know to take the job they after representing so they collect their payday.

The skills needed to find a job are different yet complement the skills needed to do a job.

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter has been a career coach and recruiter for what seems like one hundred years.

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