How to answer salary expectation questions
Knowing how to answer salary expectations questions is an important part of your job interview process. You need to be ready to respond when asked how much you hope to be paid for the position.
It’s a balancing act...go too high without backing up why you deserve that salary and you may lessen your chances of landing the role. But go too low and you risk sending the message that you don’t know the true value of your work.
Research and preparation can help you get it right - it’s time to discuss money more confidently!
Why do job seekers get asked this question?
Employers want to know whether you recognise how skills and experience equate to remuneration in the industry.
It’s also a way of finding out whether you are at the level they are looking for - salary brackets often equate to experience, and whilst it’s not an exact science, it’s a good way of judging your level of seniority beyond what you’ve outlined on your CV.
Use our salary guide calculator and toggle between years of experience to see how pay for your role changes the further you progress.
Ultimately, it’s how the employer or recruiter makes sure they’re not wasting their, or your, time. There’s usually no point progressing with the recruitment process if your salary expectations are way above what has been budgeted for the position.
This said, it can still be worth having a discussion. If you’re willing to sacrifice a bit of a pay cut, you could negotiate on other matters of the contract including benefits or hours.
How do you go about researching salaries?
Multiple factors contribute to the salary you are requesting - experience, qualifications, achievements, demand for your skills and current trends in your industry.
Whilst you should know the first three off the top of your head, the latter two are not so easy for you to ascertain alone. That’s why it’s always a good idea to have a conversation with a recruiter. They know what’s happening in the hiring market and will be able to give you a better, wider understanding; from speaking to multiple professionals and hiring organisations everyday, they really know what’s going on. The information you gain from them will put you in a powerful position to effectively negotiate why you’re worth the salary you’re requesting!
It’s also worthwhile checking in with other professionals who work in similar positions to you. If you don’t know any personally, try connecting and messaging on LinkedIn. You’ll be surprised at how many people are willing to help you out! Failing that, take a look at online forums as it’s almost inevitable that others will be looking for the same information.
“It’s vital that you research how much people at your level are being paid in similar roles.”
Beyond actually speaking to a recruiter or industry peers, our interactive salary guide calculator contains global data for a wide variety of roles across numerous industries. Simply select the most relevant options from each dropdown, click calculate, and see the industry benchmark salary for your role appear on the dial.
How to answer salary expectations in 5 simple steps
1. Get the timing right: Whilst you should always be ready and prepared to discuss the money side of things in an interview, you need to be mindful about when you actually bring it up. Don’t be too eager and mention it early on - ensure the person interviewing you is fully aware of your skills and experience first. Set yourself up as their ‘dream candidate’ before introducing any discussion about your pay.
2. Demonstrate you’re worth it: It’s vital that you prove your salary expectations are justified based on compelling business reasons, and not just on your desires. If you have data or figures around return on investment and the revenue you can generate that support what you are requesting, that’s even better - especially if you are asking for a higher salary than they were initially advertising.
3. Be flexible and realistic: If you give a salary range instead of a fixed figure, it allows the hiring manager some room for negotiation. The upper end should be marginally more than your true expectation so that any bargaining from them will keep you close to your desired amount, but be realistic. Again, it’s important to consider the whole package of the contract here. There could be benefits and other fringe perks which would make the contract as a whole more attractive - money isn’t everything!
4. Ask them the question: Sometimes, if you lay all your cards on the table and outline your salary expectations, you risk being screened out of the process. This can happen if in the job description the compensation is highlighted as ‘competitive’. To avoid this, ask them what the company would typically pay for the role. They will then either give a range or provide more details about the position and then ask the question again, at which point you can make a more informed call.
This is where working with a recruiter is beneficial as they will have this conversation for you. You will still have to tell the recruiter what salary you are expecting to be paid, but they will also be able to give you the insights as to how much you can ask for given your experience and skills, as well as how much the company is willing to offer. They will then, based on all the information, manage the salary negotiation discussion on your behalf with your potential future employer.
5. Request more information: If you’ve done your research and spoken to people but are still not sure about how much to request, don’t be afraid to ask for more information about the vacancy before outlining your salary expectations. It’s not advisable to accept an offer on the spot. Thank the interviewer and show your enthusiasm, but go away and evaluate the total package before accepting the offer or negotiating further.
It’s an inevitability…
You never quite know when it will come up, but you will always be asked for your salary expectations at some point in the interview process. It’s inevitable.
After reading this article, you should be well-equipped to respond to the question with the utmost confidence and get the salary you deserve!