This post originally appeared in Quora.
One of the pinnacle rules of negotiation is to not to give a number first. In salary negotiations, revealing your current or expected salary can be detrimental to your success. If you reveal a number too high, the company might screen you out. If you reveal a number too low, they might try to get you for less money than you're worth. Avoid both of these scenarios by avoiding talk about salary until you receive an offer. If the recruiter explicitly asks for this information however, use these phrases to deflect the dreaded salary questions.
Deflecting Questions about Current Salary
"I am uncomfortable sharing my current salary. I do not disclose my personal financial situation to others. I keep that information private."
"I signed an NDA with my current employer to not divulge corporate information to others. If you signed a NDA, you wouldn't divulge confidential information to others would you?"
Deflecting Questions about Expected Salary
"Why don't we first complete the interview process? If there's a good fit on both sides, I'm sure we can figure out a compensation package that works for both of us."
"It's too early to talk about compensation, especially since you don't know the value I can bring to your company. Let's do the interview first, and we can talk about compensation later.
What to Do If the Recruiter Persists
Some recruiters will persist in asking for your current salary. Some can't help but to ask again; others feel offended when you decline to share. They might say something to the effect of, "I've talked to four candidates today, and all of them have divulged their current salary info."
Resist the pressure. Stand your ground and repeat your earlier explanation in a matter-of-fact, emotionless, non-offensive way.
Photo credit to Hector Alejandro