BG: I have my law licenses. Right now, I'm looking for legal work or any work in a certain part of the country. (I'm teaching in a different part of the country.)
I sent in an application, resume, and my required salary to a large company. I got offered an interview. For my requested salary, I stated X amount. The interviewer "Mr. Jones" asked me about the salary, and if I would be opened to a lower salary. I said I would, BUT based on living expenses and student loans, it could only be X-$3000. He says that would be fine, and we scheduled the interview.
I go down to Big City. The interview went really, really well. I got offered the job, and then Mr. Jones told me the starting salary was X-$20,000. I thought I heard wrong, but I didn't. For one of the few times in my life, I was stunned. The salary would barely cover living expenses.
Then Mr. Jones said something that really irritated me even more: "Yeah, this is the starting salary we give kids right after they get out of college." First, I'm not a "kid". Sometimes I'd like to be one, but the reality is that I'm close to 30. (And for the record, I do NOT think recent college graduates are "kids", either.) Second, I didn't "just get out of college." I wanted to say, "Oh...so what do you give "grown-ups" with advanced degrees?" But I kept my mouth closed until I said, "Thank you so much for the interview. I really appreciate it, but unfortunately, I can't accept the job."
I felt awful about not accepting the job, and I'm angry at myself for seemingly not making it clear that I wasn't interested in the interview if the salary would be that low. How on earth do I avoid that situation in the future without sounding pushy? I would much rather have people be upfront with me (example: "Unfortunately, we start all employees at Y salary, regardless of experience") than just telling me something that I want to hear.