How to answer the Interview Question: What are your Salary Expectations?
Employers will bring up the subject of salary at some point in the interview process. You may be asked for your salary expectations directly, on a form, or in response to a pre-determined salary range offered by the employer.
This usually happens so the interviewer can gauge whether your salary expectations are on par with what they’re willing to offer or what the industry average salary range is.
‘What are your salary expectations?’ is a question that appears in almost every interview and many job applicants dread this question about salary requirements. There’s the fear that, if you give a low figure, you’re leaving money on the table. But if you give a number that is too high, you might price yourself out of consideration for the role or the employment you need, and between being eager to impress the hiring manager and trying to recollect your entire professional history by memory, job candidates often forget to think about their salary expectations before sitting down for an interview. And if you haven’t done your research or prepared an answer to this question, you will probably end up giving a figure that’s either too high for the role at hand or something too low and end up not getting paid the maximum amount as you’ll or should be making.
The good news is when discussing salary expectations; there are strategies to giving figures that will be fair to you and within the employer’s budget but the basis of all of them is doing your research ahead of the interview.
If you do thorough research on the average compensation for both the role and your experience level, you can have a productive and informative conversation about your salary expectations with your potential employers.
Why do hiring managers ask what your salary expectations are?
There are some reasons why hiring managers ask the question ‘what are your salary expectations?’ during an interview and when an employer asks about your salary expectations, it’s usually for 3 major reasons:
1. They have a budget: The interviewer wants to make sure your salary expectations align with the amount they’ve budgeted for the work and they want to ensure that the salary you’re anticipating is what they can afford. But while organizations typically want to stay within their set budget, some companies will adjust their budget if the candidate has an exceptional talent or if several candidates are asking for a similar salary that’s above what the organization originally budgeted for.
2. They want to gauge how well you know and recognize your worth: A good candidate who knows what their skill set is worth in the job market and is conscious of their value would share it confidently during an interview.
Asking for a salary that’s within the appropriate range and which represents your skill and professional experience level shows hiring managers that you really know your worth and you are not afraid to ask for what you deserve. Because confidence is one of the good traits that a lot of employers value and knowing your worth will ultimately benefit you during your job search.
3. They want to make sure you’re at the appropriate professional level: An applicant who asks for a significantly higher amount than other candidates could be too experienced or overqualified for the position. While this is not a bad thing, there is a possibility that the organization is unable to accommodate your salary requests so as to pay you what you’re truly worth. Alternatively, On the opposite hand, requesting a salary that’s much less than what other candidates have asked for might be a sign that you’re less qualified for the position, have little experience, or have a lower experience level than the position requires.
Your answer to the present question is often the start of the salary negotiation process. As a result, you would like to be sure you’re providing a well-researched response
4. How to Figure Out Your Salary Expectation: No matter what sort of position you’re looking for, or at what level, the interview is your opportunity to convince the hiring manager that you really deserve to be paid well. At the close of the interview, you would like the potential employer to be thinking, ‘That’s who I would like to hire.’
Salary expectations might well come up during the formal interview — or maybe during the initial phone vetting. That’s why you ought to start preparing your “expected salary” answer the instant you apply for the position which means you need to do your homework.
When preparing, it’s crucial you provide not only the range you are feeling comfortable with but the acceptable compensation for the position based on real data which gives an accurate salary that matches with the market average in your industry. Luckily, it’s easier than ever to look for this information.
You can start by looking up the job title by name, geographic location, and years of experience through free resources such as Salary.com, PayScale.com, Indeed, and Glassdoor. Alternatively, you can run a Google search on the job title with ‘salary’ and see what comes out.
Go there to ascertain if current or former employees of the organization you’re interviewing have shared paycheck details. It will not only help to understand what you ought to be paid, but it’ll also assist you to determine to what extent a prospective company values its staff since you’ll know where their salary offerings sit within the standard pay scale.
Keep in mind that salaries differ not only by career level and company but also by geographical location. When researching the standard salary range for an edge, remember to think about where the role is found and therefore the cost of living there in the area. For example, employment located in a big city will likely pay a better salary than an equivalent position located in a rural location.
This can help inform your answer to questions on salary expectations, but this isn’t the sole criteria to think about. Your salary expectations should also include your seniority, experience level, educational background, and any specializations or unique skills other applicants within the field might not have.
Asking people in your network who have identical experience and education levels to yours and who have the job you want what they’re making is another way to gain insight. Use numerous sources to get a true sense of the going rate for the sort of job you’re interviewing for and take into consideration any additional skills and qualifications you’ve got, the dimensions of the organization, the industry, and the location.
Use all this to come up with a suitable salary range for you, in order that no matter how you propose to reply to questions on your salary expectations, you know what number you’re ultimately looking for.
This is a critical first step. Never discuss salary expectations before researching the market and if you’re uncomfortable giving an exact figure, you may choose to offer a range instead. This way, you’re not giving an exact figure, but you’re letting them know that you’ve got done your research and know what you ought to be earning. Keep in mind, however, that the employer may choose from the lower end of your range so make sure your target number is as close to the lowest range as possible.
Alternatively, you’ll throw it back to the hiring manager and ask, ‘What is the salary range being offered?’ this may give you an honest figure on which to base your answer.
Job seekers shouldn’t ask about salary when the interview process is in its early stage because raising the subject of cash too early sends the message that you’re more curious about the paycheck than the position but waiting until you’ve got an employment offer could offer you more leverage to barter.
While it’s still early in the hiring process, there’s nothing coy about coming up with a salary range, as discussed above. Any employer who asks about an expected salary before discussing the role can’t demand a more definite answer. Answers like “Negotiable” might work, but they will also cause you to look evasive. That kind of phrasing also shows flexibility which employers appreciate. It also leaves room to regulate the figures, if you think that it’s necessary and by diplomatically turning the question around, you show that you’re willing to be flexible and work with your prospective employer.
If the employer’s salary range is within the area you were considering, or maybe higher, thank them for sharing the knowledge and ensure that the figure’s in your favor. If it’s less, say it’s at the lower end of what you were hoping for, but you’d still wish to look at the functions you will perform.
Why do that? Even in a competitive job market, you’ll find some companies are prepared to pay more in order to hire top talent.
Demonstrate you’ve got just what the employer is trying to find, and you’ll likely be ready to negotiate a salary figure to your liking as you thrash out the small details of the job offer but if the employer is starting at a way lower range than your required compensation, then say so and ask whether the figures would be adjusted for the proper hire. Don’t waste some time or the employer’s if it’s clear from the beginning that you won’t reach an agreement on salary.
In addition to your salary, there could also be other benefits, perks, or some sorts of compensation you would consider just as valuable. For example, while the employer might not have budgeted enough for your ideal salary range, they’ll be willing to make the salary package more attractive to you.
When you’re still learning the scope of an edge and what benefits the organization offers, you would possibly still like to delay answering questions on your salary expectations.
At some point, you have to commit. By the second interview (or certainly the third, if the interview lasts that long), you’ve likely learned a lot about the role and the way success will be measured, you’ve met prospective team members, and you’ve already shared the salary range you were considering — or the employer has shared the figure they’ve budgeted for the position. The candidate’s salary expectations, and whether the employer can meet them, remain the sole major unsettled questions.
Factor in all you’ve learned during your research and therefore the interview process and make sure you ask yourself these questions: Are the responsibilities and the stress level what you expected when you applied for the job? Will you take responsibility for what the original job posting didn’t mention? And most significantly, what are the employee benefits, perks, and bonus opportunities to be included in the salary package?
This information will help you reach a salary figure that is fair and can be acceptable to the employer. So phrase your answer by citing the points you think are salient to salary expectations and it’s even better if you’ll frame it in a positive and friendly manner. But be confident, polite and above all always be truthful.
Never misrepresent your experience or the training you’ve had on your resume, during interviews, or when discussing salary requirements. The truth will definitely come out either during your reference checks, maybe a skills test, or once the employer sees how you perform in your new role.
The same is true about your current or past salary. It’s best to always direct the conversation to your skills and therefore the value you’d bring back the role, not what you’ve been paid at other jobs. However, if you’re asked about your current salary, be honest. If it is discovered that you inflated the numbers may cause you the loss of the job offer.
Several organizations across the world are now endorsing salary transparency and not only does salary transparency help employees to know whether or not they’re being paid equally, but it also assists staff when posing for promotions or negotiating salary increases. For some employees who value their privacy, salary transparency might not be the foremost comfortable solution. However, it’s a step in the right direction toward reducing unfair pay gaps.
Tips you can use to communicate salary expectations
Sharing salary information with an interviewer can feel uncomfortable, especially if you’re not familiar with being asked this question and are discussing your ideal salary for the first time. To make the conversation go smoothly and you get a good salary, here are a couple of additional pointers:
Aim high: Once you are armed with the typical salary range for a position, consider padding your salary expectations. In most cases, employers are going to start off at the lowest end of the quantity you provide and by aiming higher you’ll still be making your target number even if they choose the lowest range.
Be confident: Some interviewers are interested in your answer as well as the manner you deliver it. If you’re confident and self-assured, it’ll show you recognize your worth. But while you would be hospitable during negotiation, you should show you are not going to just accept anything because you recognize what you deserve. So don’t sell yourself short in an attempt to move forward or you could end up making too little.
Explain your reasoning: While you may not need to get to details trying to explain how you arrived at your salary expectations, it doesn’t hurt to share how you arrived at that number. Highlighting your professional experience or educational level can add justification for your salary, especially if you’re aiming above the normal average. Be careful not to inflate it to an outrageous amount otherwise you might be considered overqualified.
When an interviewer asks about your salary expectations, having a well-informed and research-based answer will ensure you’re not undercutting yourself or aiming too much. Also by giving an honest, informed response, you’ll help the interviewer be better informed on whether your salary expectations align and, if things go well, what salary package is going to be attractive enough to get you on board.
What to avoid saying during an interview
Here are a couple of things to avoid when answering questions associated with your salary expectations in an interview:
A set amount: Avoid providing the hiring manager with a particular amount if possible. A set amount can give the employer an impression that you aren’t open to negotiations.
Being unprepared: You would want to go into the interview with a good idea of your salary expectations. Not being prepared can cause you to pose for or accept a salary that’s less than what you deserve or can afford.
Too high Salary: Avoid posing for a salary that’s higher than the industry average to avoid pricing yourself out of the position.
The interview question on salary expectations is here to remain but the most important thing isn’t to let it shake you. By asking the question, the recruiter is trying to know if they will afford you and if your expectations align with the role being offered and there is no shame in asserting the figure you would like ‒ just make sure it’s realistic.