So you’re in a job interview and you are feeling confident about your chances of getting the job. You nailed the question on strengths and weaknesses, but you have just been asked to talk about your salary expectation. What should you do?
Questions such as “what salary do you expect to earn from this position?” are common in job interviews. They help employers better gauge how much money they will need to hire you.
In this guide, we’re going to discuss why employers ask about salary in job interviews and how you can answer salary questions in a job interview.
Why Am I Being Asked about My Salary Expectations?
Employers ask about salary expectations for many reasons.
First, your response to this question will help an employer learn more about how much you value your experience. Employers know that good workers have a strong sense of worth relative to the current market. They also know people who have unreasonably high salary expectations are less likely to have done their research.
Second, your salary expectations will help an employer decide whether proceeding with an interview makes sense. For instance, if an employer has budgeted $50,000 for a role and you think you are worth $60,000, they may decide to pass on you because they cannot increase the cap.
Here are a few ways in which an employer may ask about your salary expectations:
- What are your salary expectations?
- If we were to hire you for this role, what salary would you expect to earn?
- We are currently offering a salary in the range of $35,000 and $40,000, depending on your experience. Does this suit your needs?
You could be asked this question at any stage of the hiring process, even in a phone interview, so you should make sure that you spend time preparing for it to come up.
How to Answer Salary Interview Questions
You may feel uncomfortable talking about salary in an interview – it’s not exactly an easy topic to talk about. On the one hand, you don’t want to propose a salary that is too high and does not accurately reflect your skills. On the other hand, you don’t want to undersell yourself. What should you do?
Here are four tips you can use to effectively answer salary interview questions:
Tip #1: Do your research
The best way to present an informed answer to a salary interview question is to base your expectations on the current market value of someone in your position.
Before you go into a job interview, spend some time researching the salaries that people in your industry and job earn. This will give you a better idea of what the employer may have in their budget and help you come up with a reasonable number.
When researching salaries, you should take into account your experience. More experienced candidates may have more leverage when discussing salary. Less experienced candidates, on the other hand, may have to settle for a lower or entry-level salary.
Location is also a factor you should consider as each city has its own unique labor market.
You can use sites such as Paysa, Indeed, or Glassdoor to research the average salaries of people in your particular industry, location, and position.
Tip #2: Use a range
Giving an interviewer an exact salary that you want to earn, such as $60,000 per year, may feel especially uncomfortable. What if they can’t reach that amount? What if they expected you to propose a lower number?
To prevent this feeling from coming up, you can mention a range instead. For instance, you could say that you are open to a salary between $55,000 and $60,000 per year.
Using a range allows you to appear flexible when discussing salaries and also shows to an employer that there is room for negotiation. However, you should remember that an employer may decide to offer you a salary that is lower on your range. So make sure the lower end of your range is not too low.
Tip #3: Discuss benefits
Some companies offer benefits in addition to a salary package. For instance, you may be eligible to receive a healthcare, dental, and vision package, or be able to work from home.
You could mention to an employer that you are seeking a salary within a certain range, but that you are also willing to discuss benefits as part of the package. While an employer’s budget may not be enough to secure you as an employee, they may be able to supplement some of your expected salary by offering you the benefits that you desire.
Tip #4: Justify your worth
Before you go into an interview, spend some time thinking about why you think you are worth the salary that you have in mind. Do you have a particular set of rare skills? Did you work at an industry-leading company? Do you have extensive experience using technology and processes used at the company?
Thinking about this in advance means that if you feel comfortable doing so, you can mention in your interview how you decided on your salary range by breaking it down. This will make it easier for an employer to understand your motivations and helps them evaluate your sense of worth.
Tip #5: Express confidence
Money is a difficult subject to talk about, especially in the context of salaries – the numbers with which you are dealing are in the tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands.
With that said, you shouldn’t let the subject matter put you off from being confident. If you know that you are worth a certain amount, then be confident in telling the employer that you think you are worth that amount. Back it up with a good reason and then move on with your interview.
While it may sound tempting to use phrases like “I think” or “I’m not committed to a salary, but…” these make you sound indecisive. Avoid doing so as it is not a good signal to a potential employer.
Example Answers to Salary Interview Questions
So, how should I go about answering questions about salary? To help you out, we have prepared a few example responses which you can use to respond to salary interview questions.
“I am looking to earn between $55,000 and $58,000. I arrived at this number by looking at the average market salary for people in this job. Given my extensive experience and unique skill set, I feel as though this range is reasonable.”
"Career Karma entered my life when I needed it most and quickly helped me match with a bootcamp. Two months after graduating, I found my dream job that aligned with my values and goals in life!"
Venus, Software Engineer at Rockbot
“Thanks for asking. I am flexible on the final number, but I feel that a salary between $62,000 and $65,000 is reasonable, given the average salary offered to people in this industry with a similar amount of experience.”
“Thank you for asking. I expect to earn $44,000 for this position. I believe that my experience using tools such as Salesforce CRM which you mentioned are critical to the job, as well as my range of soft skills, justifies this number. Does this work for you?”
“This sounds like an excellent position, and I again appreciate being brought in for an interview. I am looking to earn a salary of between $38,000 and $43,000 per year. I believe this is reasonable given my range of soft and hard skills and subject matter experience in this industry. However, if the right benefits were offered, I believe that I could be more flexible on my salary expectations.”
“My expectations are to earn between $70,000 and $75,000 for this job. I believe that my background in the paper industry, as well as my experience managing large teams, positions me well for this role. However, I am flexible and would love to hear more about your budget for this position and what number you had in mind.”
The question “What do you expect to earn from this position?” may throw you off base, but it doesn’t have to.
Having an answer that is backed up by data, as well as a pinch of confidence, will make you sound professional, and also showcase that you have done your research on compensation given to people in your line of work.
The numbers you mention in an interview will likely be recorded by the company, as they will use them to evaluate how much to offer you if you advance to the final stage of the hiring process. But, there is almost always room to negotiate further down the line – you don’t need to have a specific number in mind from day one.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.