So I had a really good campus interview for a social psych position and have since been contacted by the chair asking that I send a salary and start-up request for them to consider. They haven't made me an offer but it was pretty clear that they want to (are being held up by a simultaneous search for a permanent chair, a position that they want to finalize first- the one who's communicating with me is an interim from another department who's filling in). I have never heard of this before and am not sure what to make of it! I have no idea what they've paid recent hires, so it was all a guessing game, and I took the advice of my mentors and came up with a salary range that I personally think is a bit high, which makes me worried given that I haven't actually gotten an offer (what if the request was too high- would they just move on to someone else??).
Has anyone come across this before? What would be the rationale? I was expecting to get an offer and then negotiate from there!