You never quite know when to start discussing salary requirements, but when it does happen it’s immediately awkward.
There is no right or wrong answer to this question, it’s about perfect timing in your unique situation.
Firstly, you need to ensure the prospective employer is even interested in you before bringing up the subject. You can determine this by how much time they spend with you in the interview, the longer the interview the more probable they are interested otherwise they would not be wasting their time with you. You should look out for body language signs that show positive interest, and they will be asking questions like what your notice period is.
Should you not get a sense at all that they are interested, then don’t bring up the subject, even if they ask if you have any questions at the end of the interview, rather reserve this time to ask something that may sway their interest in you.
While the truth is that we all work to earn a salary, you definitely don’t want the interviewer to think that is the most important thing to you, so there is danger in bringing the money discussion up too soon in the selection process.
Having said that it is also a waste of your time to go through a stringent and sometimes long winded recruitment process, only to hear at the very end, when receiving a documented offer, that the salary budget is way under your expectation.
Use your intuition, if you sense the company is starting to ‘sell’ the company to you, you can be confident an offer will follow, so when the tables turn at this point and you have the upper hand in the negotiation process, approach the subject.
It is also important to pay attention to how you ask the question. I don’t suggest you just blurt out “so what are you paying for this job?”. I would rather suggest a more conservative approach to query who you should engage with around the possible package on offer. Often there is more than one person in an interview process, however salaries are confidential and only certain employees in a company are exposed to the information, so can’t be discussed publically.
Before going into the interview process you should be clear on your salary expectations and it should be realistic based on your current salary, progression in role and market related salary benchmark for the position.
A safe way to respond should the question be posed to you is to say you are currently on ‘this package’ and would like to see what salary they would like to propose based on the role and the value they perceive you can offer. This will prevent you giving an amount under what they were prepared to offer, or an amount too high and it scares them off.
Be prepared to negotiate, you don’t have to accept first offer. I also suggest to not only base your decision on the money as there are so many other things that will make you happy or unhappy in a company.