It’s natural to want to be paid fairly for your work. And yet discussing your salary expectation with a hiring manager who has way more inside information than you, can feel very unnerving. “What is your salary expectation?” is a straightforward question and yet the answer is so complex. It's difficult to know what to say (and what not to say) so that you receive a job offer that's a win for both yourself and the company.
You should go into every interview with your salary expectations in mind. By researching and preparing an answer ahead of time, you can demonstrate to the employer that you're not only flexible with your salary, but you also know what you're worth. We recommend checking industry salary reports online and tapping into your network to help you negotiate your worth in the labour market.
In this article, we explore why employers ask about your salary expectations during interviews, how to answer this question, tips to keep in mind when providing your salary expectations, and what to avoid when answering this interview question.
When an employer asks about your salary expectations, it’s usually for one or more of three reasons:
They have a budget. The interviewer wants to make sure your compensation expectations align with what they’ve calculated for the job. If they find most candidates are asking for more than anticipated, it might mean requesting a larger budget for the position.
They want to gauge how well you know your worth. A good candidate knows how much their skill set is worth in the market and can share it with confidence. To determine appropriate market value, factor in your level, years of experience and career achievements.
They want to determine whether you’re at the appropriate professional level. An applicant who asks for a significantly higher amount than other candidates may be too senior for the role. Alternatively, answering with a salary expectation on the low end could indicate you’re at a lower experience level than the job requires.
Here are some tips on how to effectively present your salary expectations during an interview:
Flip the Question. If you don’t feel comfortable with the option above or want to try to get some more context on the position of the company, try turning the tables and asking them the question. The truth is, every company has a certain budget in mind when hiring for a new position. The budget range varies depending on the size, success, and values of the company.
Politely asking about the budget range the business has set for the role in question can help you better understand the situation, make last-minute adjustments to how you want to answer the salary expectations question, and signal to the hiring manager that you’re a strong interviewer.
Once the interviewer answers your question, they’ll expect you to say if the salary works for you. So you still need to do your research, but now you’ll be able to tailor your response to the budget the company has. If the interviewer gives you a number or range in line with what you expected or higher, great! You can talk about how that sounds perfect for you. But if the response is lower than you’re happy with, you have to come up with a plan to respond.
Here are a few things to avoid when answering a question related to your salary expectations in an interview:
Always remember, a great way to prepare for interview questions is to have a friend or family member pretend to be the interviewer who asks you questions while you practise your answers.
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