How To Answer “What Are Your Salary Expectations?” Interview Question

What You Need To Know Before Your Next Interview

When you’re interviewing for a job, one of the most difficult questions to answer is “What are your salary expectations?”. It can be a tricky question to navigate, and to avoid coming off as greedy or undervaluing your worth. The key is to be comfortable and confident when discussing your desired salary with potential employers. This seemingly mysterious question is more clear cut than you might think. If you know how to prepare. Let’s take a look at how to properly answer job interview questions about salary expectations. 

Do Your Research 

Before going into any job interview, it is important that you do your research on the position at hand. You’ll want to gain understanding of the market value of that particular position prior to the interview. This way, you can give an informed response when asked about your salary expectations and ensure your expectations are in line with industry norms. It also shows prospective employers that you understand the value of their offer. A quick Google search can give you a general range for the salary of the position you are applying for. If you are working with a recruiter, they can offer helpful insights as well into industry pay ranges. 

Be Confident 

When you’re asked about your expected salary, it is essential that you remain confident and comfortable. The number agreed upon should be based on what works best for both parties, not just the company. Do not hesitate when giving them an answer and avoid giving vague responses. Answers such as “I am open to negotiation” or “My expectations are flexible” don’t give potential employers enough information on which to base their decision-making process. 

Don’t Just Give A Number, Give A Range

When asked “What are your salary expectations?”, you never just want to give an exact amount. This leaves little room for negotiating or compromising. If the company has a set budget they can offer, and your number is higher, they might feel less inclined to come to a compromise. The professional thing to do is to decide on your number, then give a range that goes about $2,000 under it, and about $5,000 – $7,000 over it. This leaves room for a trial salary, usually starting on the lower end of range. 

Once you build trust with them in your abilities and work performance, you can move towards the higher end of your salary range. We recommend getting your agreement with salary increase expectations and timeline in writing. This will alleviate any misunderstandings, and help to hold you and your new employer accountable and focussed on a specific goal. 

You will want to figure out your bottom line number. This is the least amount of money you would accept for your salary. If they can’t match it, or commit to matching it after a certain timeline, then you should consider other options. Taking less than your bottom line number will often lead to poor work ethic as your pay won’t motivate or support your best work. Of course you must be realistic based on industry ranges and your experience / skill level. If you have a reasonable bottom line number, and the company can’t or won’t match it, keep looking. 

Focus on Benefits 

It is wise to focus more on benefits rather than salary alone since benefits can add significantly more value than money alone over time. If there are certain benefits that would be beneficial for yourself and your family, then make sure to emphasize those during the interview process so that they know what kind of package works best for you in addition to a competitive salary range. Some benefits include IRA matching, health insurance (full or partial), profit sharing, allowances for extended training, amenities like gym or club memberships and more. These benefits can easily add an additional $5,000 – $10,000 a year to your salary, and often won’t be taxed. Make sure to ask about these before giving your range if possible, or research the job posting as many of them include this information. 

Language For Answering The Salary Expectations Question

To keep it simple, when asked the salary expectation question, you will want to be clear and articulate. Practice your answer in the mirror or with a trusted friend. Say something like, “My research showed, the industry standard salary range for this role is about $54,000 – $59,000 a year. I have over 3 years experience in this industry, but I realize you don’t know me or my capabilities yet. My desired salary is $58,000, but I’m willing to come in a bit lower if needed to show what I can do. If we both agree I’m a good match for your company, then we can look at raising my salary back up. Does that sound fair?”. 

Practice your own wording, but this is a good general outline. Clear, confident, to the point and it leaves room for discussion. After you say your piece, just wait. Let them think, or pause or respond. Stay calm, and don’t change your answer. If they say that is too high, ask what they had in mind. Ideally, it matches your bottom line or higher, and you can accept and move forward. If it is too low, you can tell them your bottom line, and ask if there is any room for them to meet you there. 

Were The Salary Expectations On the Application or Job Listing?

Oftentimes the salary range will be on the job listing or there will be a spot on the application for you to enter a range of your own. This can be helpful as if they already listed a range, you know what to expect. If they asked you for a range already, there is a good chance they will offer at least the lowest number you provided. Consider this information when practicing for your interview.

Sometimes the interviewer isn’t aware of the number on the application or job listing, so it’s ok to remind them or inform them about it. You can say “I saw on the job listing the salary range for this position you  are offering between $54,000 – $59,000. I feel my experience puts me somewhere around $57,000 as a starting point, and would be happy to accept that salary while working towards the top end of this range.” 

Final Thoughts & Pointers

Job interviews can be nerve-wracking experiences but they don’t have to be! By doing some research beforehand, staying confident during negotiations, and focusing on benefits rather than just salary alone, answering job interview questions about salary won’t seem so daunting after all! With these tips in mind, potential employers will understand how valuable of an asset you are and how much benefit you bring to their organization—which could result in higher compensation for yourself!

The best way to gain confidence in your salary expectations and how to answer this question in an interview, is to work with a professional recruiter. Recruiters help to open doors that are otherwise closed, and they increase your value in the eyes of a potential employer. They can answer any questions you have before your interview to help you prepare. Need help? At JFC Staffing, we understand exactly what employers are looking for, and our team of recruiters are here to help you get hired while creating win win situations for everyone involved. We have quality job listings of companies that are looking to hire today. Contact us here to get started!