How to answer the “What are your salary expectations” question

It is your job interview day. Everything is going well; you meet the job requirements perfectly. And you succeeded to impress your interviewer. Consequently, you found that all the practice sessions you have had with your friends helped you to sell yourself with ease and confidence.

You are on the right way to land this job. Then you come across the awkward question: what are your salary expectations?

A lot of candidates fear this question or any other point related to it. In fact, if you give a law estimation, you may leave money on the table and end up regretting it. However, if you give a too high number, you might be out of consideration for the position. So, no matter where you are in your professional career, this is a pretty tough estimation.

After that being said, when you discuss salary expectations, there are tricks and strategies that will help you give a fair estimation both for you and for your employer. Hence, research, timing, and tact are essential keys when you discuss your salary expectations with a potential employer.

So, here are our best tips:

Start by researching the salary trends and the market evaluation

Regardless, the position you are applying for, your level, skills…the job interview is your best chance to convince the HR manager that you deserve a top salary. By the end of your interview, you need to make your future employer thinking: this is the person I need to hire, what should I do to convince him to join my team?”. The salary expectation question may come during the first phone call or during the formal one-to-one job interview. This means that you must be fully prepared in order to answer the question.

Start by checking websites and relevant sources including data related to wages in your industry and specific position. Consult the most recent salary guides par field /sector in order to know the average national salary for the post you are seeking. Then use a salary calculator to customize the exact figure of your market.

You can log to Glassdoor to see if former or current employees of the company you are applying for, have shared their paycheck details. This is a crucial step in order to better evaluate your salary expectations. So, don’t make the mistake to discuss the money-related questions before doing your own researches.

Give a salary range rather than a number

Candidates must avoid asking about the salary while submitting their application / cover letter or even during the phone screens. Bringing in the question of money too early send a negative image of you being more interested by the paycheck than the position itself. This doesn’t mean that the employer won’t ask you about your salary expectations during your first contact.

If the job post asks candidates about their expected salary during the application, you must give a range you are comfortable with rather than a determined figure. Giving answers like “negotiable” might be ok, but they can also make look uncertain. But if you have done your homework by doing your researches, you will know what a fair salary range must look like.

If the question of salary expectation comes up during the first screening, you can give a range, like this example:

“From what I know about the industry and the position, I think somewhere in the area of X and X, is correct. “

This kind of formulation shows your flexibility and preparation, which employers appreciate. It will help you also to adjust figures, if it is necessary, once you have gathered more information about the job and your employer’s expectations.

Turn the question around with diplomacy

At the first steps of the hiring process, there nothing wrong with bringing in the salary range. If the potential employer asks about the salary expectation before discussing the job details, he will not demand an exact answer.

Hence, this is your chance to turn the question around. Whether the salary requirement subject comes up during the phone screen or during the video interview, you can say:

“I would like to get more details about the position requirement, tasks, and needs before speaking of money. But can I know what is the salary range you are normally considering for this post?”. When you address this question with tact and cleverness, you will show that your priority is to know whether the job fits you or not. At the same time, your indirect and tactful invitation to speak about the budgeted salary won’t be denied.

Consequently, if the employer’s salary range is in the area of your expectations or better exceeds them …thank him for sharing this information and confirm that the proposed figure is in your ballpark. Meanwhile, if he proposes something less than your expected range, say that it is at the lower end of your expectations, but you’d still like to talk about the job.

Show the employer you have everything he is looking for, and you will be able to negotiate a salary figure that you like as you bring in the job offer details. If the employer is proposing a really low range compared to your desired compensation, be truthful and ask whether they will be ready to adjust figures for the right candidate. If not, don’t waste your time or the time of the employer if it is clear from the start that both of you are looking for something else.

Time to give a number, not a range

After the previous steps, it is time to commit. When it is your second or third interview, you probably learned what you need to know about the job, met some team members, and mostly shared your salary range, and even knew your employer budgeted figure for the position.

Basically, the candidate salary expectation and whether the employer can meet them or not, are the main unsettled points. So now when the employer asks you about your expected salary, give a NUMBER, not a range. 

Review all the details you learned during your researches about the company and the position and even information you gathered during the interview process. Are the responsibilities and the stress level beyond your expectations when you applied for the job? Will you manage processes or teams that were not mentioned in the job description? Maybe the employee’s benefits, bonus, and perks will be included in the compensation package?

Answering all these questions will help you have a clear idea of whether you arrived at a salary figure that is fair for you and the employer. Formulate your answer by mentioning briefly, the key points that you think important to compensation expectations. Frame your needs in a positive manner. You need to be friendly and positive. But above all show your confidence and politeness.

Be truthful

Don’t be tempted to misrepresent your skills, training, or experience at your current or previous jobs. Don’t do it on your resume, cover letter, job interview, or when you discuss your salary expectations. This misleading can always backfire on you.

The truth will always speak on your behalf during a skill test, your reference check, or once your employer starts seeing the way you perform at your new job. Sooner or later the truth will shine.

The same thing goes for your current and past salary. It is better to orient the discussion to your skills and what is the added value that you will bring to the table rather than speaking about your previous pay.

However, if you get asked about your actual salary, be honest. Inflating numbers won’t be a good move, be honest and tell your potential employer what are your real salary expectations.

Discover all our career tips and related article through our blog.

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