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9 Tips to Answer The Dreaded Salary Expectations Question + Example Answers

Sarah O’Mahoney

Marketing Specialist and Freelance Writer


When it comes to the big “salary expectations” question in an interview, people often seem to dread this conversation. It can be awkward discussing salaries and finances at a job interview, but it is an important aspect of figuring out if the job is a good fit for you. 

Most interviews are cenetred around discussing your experiences, skills, and knowledge of the job, but having a conversation about salary expectations is definitely essential. Going through the hiring process for a new job is a great feeling. It may feel like you are getting closer and closer to your dream job. No matter how excited you are about a new job, your salary and wages may be the deciding factor for you. At the end of the day, the job you are applying for will have to offer you enough money so you can comfortably live. 

Knowing how to tackle this question in an appropriate way will help you navigate your way to expressing what salary you expect and deserve. Let’s have a look at some strategies and plans you can put into action the next time you are asked about your salary expectations.

Plan Ahead

If you have been called for an interview, you will most likely spend a significant amount of time preparing for typical interview-style questions. During this time, have a think about your salary expectations too. It might be best to just presume that the interviewer or hiring panel will ask you about your salary expectations. This way, you will be fully prepared if it does come up. 

When thinking about your salary and how much you expect to get paid, it’s important to not sell yourself short and not to go way higher than the average salary for your industry and job. It should be balanced and appropriate. Consider the job you are going for. If it has more responsibilities than your last job, your salary expectations should reflect that. For example, let’s say the job you are leaving was a manager position, but the job you are applying for now is a director role. Naturally, the salary expectations will go up if you are going for a high position within a company. 

During the planning ahead stage, it also may be valuable to have a look online. There are many resources online that will show how much companies pay their employees. This will give you an insight into what is the “norm” for the company. This should help you navigate the amount you expect to be paid.

Research Salary Trends

Doing some research ahead of your interview will be a great help. If you know someone who is working in the job or industry you are applying for, consider having a chat with them to get an idea of the salary you should be expecting. There are also plenty of publications available where you can see salary trends in each industry. Any information you can get access to, to help you come up with a realistic salary range will be super beneficial. You can also check out this Salary Calculator to aid you in gauging your salary expectations.

Depending on the economy and other factors influencing the job market, such as the COVID-19 crisis, salaries may reflect current trends. It’s important to keep this in mind when looking at trends during the research stage.

Select a Salary Range

Companies like to see candidates that are flexible and able to negotiate. That is why it’s important when asked about salary expectations that you give a salary range. If you tell the hiring team and interviewers that there is one exact figure you expect, this may turn the company off. When you tell the company the salary you expect lies somewhere within a range, then there is wiggle room. The general rule of thumb is to give a salary range that is between no more than $10,000, so, for example, you may express that your expected salary is between “$78,000 and $85,000”.

This is especially important during the earlier rounds of interviews. You may feel more comfortable and confident giving a specific number you expect for your salary further on in the hiring process. If you are being offered a job, for example, there may be the presumption that you will give the company a more precise figure that you expect. 

Ask Questions

As we mentioned before, there seems to be a taboo around discussing salary expectations during interviews but it is completely within your right to ask questions. If you feel a little nervous about answering the question “what are your salary expectations”, try and turn the question back to the interviewers. You could try and ask something like “what is the typical salary for other Marketing Managers at Company X?” Asking this question will give you another chance to find out the typical salary the company pays its employees doing a similar job to you.

Don’t Forget Compensation

When applying for a new job, sometimes a company may have to pay compensation if the job requires some extra effort, such as moving cities or towns. If the job you are applying for requires you to pack up your suitcase and move across the country, or even across the world, you should be compensated for such. Take into account how much it would cost you to relocate, and ensure this is accounted for when thinking about the salary that you expect. Generally, anywhere between $1,000 and $2,000 is the usual compensation amount for relocating. 

Be Honest

If you have taken the time to think about and research your salary expectations, be honest about the figures you have come up with during the interview. Hiring teams appreciate honesty. If it is the case that the company cannot provide you with the salary that you expect, they may be open to negotiating or compromising. 

It is also common that you come to an interview completely unprepared for this question. Of course, it’s best to consider this question before the interview, but if it has slipped your mind, don’t panic! Simply explain to the interviewing panel that you need some time to think about this and you will come back to them with an answer once you have learned more about the job and what will be expected of you. 

What to Avoid When Asked About Salary

Things to not do when talking about salary expectations

Don’t Sell Yourself Short

Selling yourself short when it comes to telling a hiring team how much you expect for a salary is not ideal. Consider how hard you have worked to gain your qualifications and work experience. Now is not the time to undersell yourself. Searching for a job is the perfect time to come to terms with what you are worth. Sometimes we, as people, tend to downplay how good we are at our jobs or in other aspects of our lives. Being confident in yourself and that you do deserve the salary you are expressing, shows that you are self-assured! 

Don’t Give an Exact Figure

We touched on this earlier in the article, where we mentioned that you should give a range as opposed to an exact figure. The reason for this is simple. Giving a range that you are open to shows the hiring panel that you are flexible and have the ability to negotiate. 

Don’t Price Yourself Too High

Underselling yourself when it comes to salary expectations should be avoided just as much as pricing yourself too high and out of the job. Try to stay realistic and reasonable when discussing your salary expectations. If you express to the hiring team that you are looking for a salary that is way above the industry average, the company may not be interested in going any further with your application. 

Example Answers to “What are Your Salary Expectations”

Hopefully, the above pointers will help you to navigate and prepare an answer for when you are asked about salary expectations. To make sure you are fully prepared, we have written some example answers that may aid you in coming up with your own answer.  Have a look at what we have come up with… 

  • “Considering my skills and experience, which match up perfectly for this position, I am expecting a salary somewhere between $70,000 and $76,000 a year. Of course, I am open to discussion around salary and I would be happy to negotiate.”
  • “I would love the opportunity to think about this a little bit more. Once I know what exactly the job entails and have more information on the job description, I will be able to come up with a better salary range. 
  • Seeing as the industry average lies between $64,000 and $72,000, I would be looking to earn somewhere in between this bracket, although I am flexible. 

Conclusion

By now the thoughts of discussing salaries and how much you expect shouldn’t seem so daunting. Once you have put some time and effort into considering the industry average and other aspects, you are on the right track. Remember, be self-assured and know your worth!

Happy Job Searching!

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