How to answer ‘What are your salary expectations?’ in a job interview

Job interviews can be nerve-wracking experiences. You have to impress a stranger with your confident communication style while you know they are actively scrutinizing and judging your performance. To make things even more challenging, you are often asked questions that are not easy to answer.

One of the most difficult questions for job seekers to respond to is the enquiry about their salary expectations. This is a high-stakes question. If you answer too high a number, you could price yourself out of contention for the role. If you state too low a salary rate, you may end up being hired and working for less money than you could be earning for the foreseeable future.

When you are changing jobs is one of the best times to see a pay increase. Employers are almost always more generous with the money they will offer to a candidate they are trying to recruit than they are with raises for existing employees. So, your salary negotiations for a new job are your best chance of getting a pay boost.

Those negotiations begin during the job interview when the employer asks you what your salary expectations are. Here’s how you answer it.

Strategies for discussing your salary expectations in a job interview

Employers like to ask this question for several reasons. It is an awkward topic to discuss, as many people have been told from a young age not to talk about money. So, it is a good test of a candidate’s abilities to communicate under pressure in uncomfortable situations.

More importantly, however, employers genuinely want to know how much they need to pay in order to bring you onboard. If they can’t afford you, there’s not much point in wasting time with the rest of the screening process. So, pricing yourself out of a job is an actual risk.

This is why you should not ask about the salary for the job in the interview process. The later this conversation takes place, the more advantageous it is for you. Delaying that discussion gives you more time to impress the employer with dialogue about your skills and work experience. The more they want to hire you when you start talking about money, the better that negotiation will go for you.

Conveying your motivation for the job and passion for joining the team will also help your chances of being hired. It shows that you’re not just in it for the money. However, when the interviewer asks you what your salary expectations are, you have to say something.

Have a number in mind

Do your research before the job interview to have some idea of what a reasonable amount to be paid for the job is. Some companies list the pay range for a position in the job description itself. Other websites may include salary data from current and former employees. Armed with whatever information you can find about how much the company pays and what the going wage rate is for jobs such as yours, you should be able to begin the salary conversation.

State a range

When asked what your salary expectations are, it is best to name a wide range. For example, try saying something like, “I know that positions at this level usually pay between $80,000 and $100,000. Given my level of experience and accomplishments in the field, I would fall towards the higher end of that range. However, the amount will depend upon many details of the role itself. Can we discuss those in more detail first?”

Then be prepared to elaborate on why you should be higher up in that compensation range. This is where you discuss your list of previous accomplishments and how they demonstrate the levels of success you can achieve for this new potential employer. You need to indicate that you bring a greater value to the company than other candidates might, and that’s why it is in their interest to pay a little more to hire you for your contributions. Be confident about your skills and experience, this is a negotiation, and you need to be assured of what you can bring to the table in order to convince them. Just be careful not to come across as arrogant or boastful.

Also, when giving a salary range, remember to say that you are flexible or willing to negotiate. If your numbers are higher than the employer was hoping to pay, they are less likely to rule you out as a candidate because you’ve told them that there is some wiggle room.

Be prepared to negotiate

Make sure that you are willing to work for the full range of salaries you name to the employer. For example, don’t say that your salary expectations are between $75,000 and $100,000 if you would not accept anything less than $80,000. Similarly, the top of your range should be higher than you actually expect to earn because you and the company will most likely meet somewhere in the middle.

Part of the salary negotiation will be based on the specifics of the job itself. The hours you would be expected to put in, the day-to-day activities of the role, and how much stress and pressure you would be under all factor into how much it pays. Whether or not you are leading a team and managing people should also be considered.

Keep in mind that when you are negotiating a salary, the company might offer other perks and benefits that would make it worth your while to accept slightly lower wages. Be sure that you discuss the full compensation package being offered before being firm about your base salary demands. You might be happy to accept $5,000 less in salary for an opportunity that comes with four weeks of vacation time, Fridays off all summer long, or 100 per cent coverage of medical, optical, and dental benefits for the whole family.

Just make sure that you know the full value of the offer and what the work will be. You don’t want to sign a contract for less money than you deserve for the role. It’s a job seeker’s market right now, and companies are competing to attract the talent they need to hire. This puts you in a strong bargaining position with potential employers. It also means that you don’t have to feel pressured to take the deal if one opportunity doesn’t offer you reasonable compensation for the job. There will be other opportunities available with organizations that are willing to pay you what you deserve to earn.

Originally published on Talent. com.


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