Interview Question

"What are your salary expectations" Interview Question

One of the top job interview questions that you’re almost guaranteed to be asked.

The salary is probably the part of the job you are most interested in when reviewing a job offer. This is reasonable since you want adequate compensation for your time and effort as well as the ability to financially support yourself and your family. Unfortunately, sometimes, job postings do not include salary information.

During the interviewing process, a hiring manager may ask you the dreaded "salary expectations question." The purpose is not because the company does not know what they intend to or can afford to pay you. Instead, they may want to see how you value your work and possibly get a deal on your salary.

Answer

How to Answer

Research

Before going into the interview, do some research on the market salary range for your position. You can look for actual data about your job on websites such as Indeed Salaries and Glassdoor. This analysis of what real people are getting paid to do your job will also give you an idea of what salary you are comfortable with. What offer will convince you to accept the job right on the spot? What offer will make you walk away?

The size of the company and its geographic location will likely determine how high or low the job falls in that range. For example, the salary for a job in Nashville, Tennessee may be different from the same job located in New York City. Cities have different costs of living. As a result, the salary requirements will vary. Furthermore, a small business will likely not be able to pay as much as a Fortune 500 company.

Finally, the hiring manager likely has an offer maximum. Your skills, experience, and how you negotiate will place you as close as possible to that magic number.

Knowing the market salary for the position is vital. You do not want to aim too high that the company feels that they cannot afford you. On the other hand, if you aim too low, your interviewer may offer you even less. Remember, these are salary negotiations with a give and take.

Delay

First, hold off answering the question about your salary. Instead, ask for more information about specific job expectations and responsibilities. This tactic can buy you time to reflect on the position and even learn some new aspects of the job. Then, you can decide whether your answer will be at the higher range or the lower range of your research estimates.

Offer a Range

When answering the salary question, offer a range first before specific numbers. Try to keep the range with a variance of no more than $5,000, even if your research had a range of $10,000. For example, if the market salary for your position is between $50,000 and $60,000, your answer should be $55,000 to $60,000. A range is also beneficial to see how your potential employer will respond, before further negotiations.

Always be comfortable with the numbers you give out. Once you say your salary range, it will be extremely difficult to negotiate a higher compensation after the fact.

Don't forget that salary is not simply a number. The compensation package may include bonuses, health benefits, and stock options. If you value extra vacation days or the ability to do some remote work, mention it. If your initial salary range was out of their budget, your employer may see this wiggle room and offer you a lower salary with more attractive benefits.

Be Confident

Be confident in your answer and self-worth. Most of us are open to negotiation. However, don’t sell yourself short in order to attempt to fast track your job application. By low balling your salary, your hiring manager may question if you truly know the industry and the quality of your job performance. You may end up unhappy with the compensation package or the company may bypass your application altogether.

Additionally, you may decide to offer a brief explanation as to why you think you deserve your salary request. Highlight your skills and experience before saying any numbers. Remind the interviewer of how you will add value to the company and that they want to have you on their team by compensating you fairly.

Sample Answers

Here are some sample answers you can use to frame your own response:

  • “Before I answer, I would like to find out a bit more about the job responsibilities and the role I would play at this company.
  • Based on my experience and research, my understanding is that $75,000 to $80,000 is the average salary of a position with these expectations. However, I am open to negotiation depending on benefits, paid time off, and stock options.”
  • "Based on my 10 years of experience in this field as well as my award-winning sales record, I am seeking a position that pays between $36,000 and $41,000 annually."
  • "My salary requirements are flexible. I am open to discussing what you believe to be fair compensation for this position. However, based on my previous salary and knowledge of the industry, I understand that positions similar to this one pay in the range of $20,000 to $25,000 annually."

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