The job interview process can be difficult and nerve-wracking. While talking about your skills, experience and qualifications is essential, we can all agree that the most difficult question to answer is about your salary expectations.
Some job seekers fear putting forward a high number that puts them out of consideration for the job, or going too low when the hiring manager may have been willing to pay much more.
If you have an interview coming up soon, don't worry! We have some tips for how to answer a question about salary expectations, and how to have the dreaded salary discussion.
Tact, timing, and research play a significant role when it comes to discussing a starting salary and salary requirements.
Why do employers ask the salary question?
It is natural to question the motives of the hiring manager when they ask about your salary expectations. They may do it for several reasons.
A fixed budget
Many companies have a fixed budget for various positions that they can't stray from. By asking you this question at the interview stage, they want to make sure that they can meet the salary you expect.
Check your level of qualification
If you ask for a really high salary that is more than what other candidates ask for, or that the company can give, you might be over-qualified for the position. It's certainly not a bad thing, but the company will probably not be able to pay you what you request and deserve.
On the flipside, if you ask for a lower salary than the average salary in the industry, it might indicate to the hiring manager that you are less qualified and don't have the necessary experience.
Assess your self-worth
This question is actually an opportunity to show these interviewers that you know your worth and what you bring to the table. When you confidently state your salary expectation in a range that's appropriate for your skills and experience, it sends a message that you're not afraid to ask for what you rightfully deserve.
In fact, savvy companies actually prefer candidates who are confident in their value and can articulate the value they can add to the business. So don't be shy about stating your salary expectations - it could be the key to landing that dream job!
How to answer a question about salary expectations
Ah, the infamous salary question. It's one of the most commonly asked interview questions out there, and it can make even the most confident job candidate break out in a sweat. But with a little preparation and some savvy know-how, you can ace this question and impress your interviewers.
So, how do you come up with an answer to the expected salary question?
Research your expected pay
Even if you don't have a specific salary expectation, it’s never a good idea to just go into a job interview blindly - make sure you have some understanding about what a fair salary is for the job description, and prepare to answer the desired salary question.
Knowing the average salary for the advertised position will help you make an informed answer to the salary question. Research the job title and other similar positions, and find a rough salary ballpark. There are plenty of places online to search for the average pay range of various positions in your area so you can arm yourself with insider knowledge.
Make sure you understand the job description of the advertised position, and ask further questions about the responsibilities if you're unsure. This will help you make an informed decision around your desired salary.
Desired salary range
You don’t want your desired salary to sound non-negotiable – which is often the case if you mention a specific number. Instead, propose a pay range. This way, there is a better chance of you getting the salary you want, but it doesn't make the demand seem too outrageous.
A salary range also reflects your flexibility and your willingness to cooperate with your potential employer.
Consider your current salary
You should take into consideration your current salary. This may help you decide your starting point if you're going to move up within the same industry.
Comparing the salary from your last company is a good way of determining a pay range you would be happy with.
Sometimes a new job means relocation. If that is the case with you, be sure to include the expenses that come with it in your salary request.
For instance, if the move to the new job's city costs you $2,000, you can ask for this money to be included in your salary or as direct compensation.
It’s essential to realise that you add value to the company you join, so you should get the pay you deserve. Generally during salary negotiations, your new employer will agree to a starting salary at the lower end, so it's essential to give them a higher range.
For instance, if you want to earn $50,000, give them a range of $50,000 to $60,000, instead of $45,000 to $55,000. Low offers can be disappointing, so start your own range off with a base pay you're happy with.
You need to be able to show why you have given the proposed pay range. Be prepared with some justifications as to how you arrived at the number, then explain yourself.
Don't get into extensive details, but highlight your educational level, skills, and experience, as well as the average salary for similar roles, to justify why you deserve the salary you asked for.
Confidence is key
Employers appreciate those candidates who know their worth and are confident of their abilities. We're not saying be arrogant during the interview, but don't sell yourself short and risk not getting what you deserve!
Salary expectation example answers
Having discussed the strategies you can use to come up with a pay range for your salary expectations, have a look at some of the salary expectation example answers:
- "Though I am flexible, I am expecting to receive a salary between $60,000 and $70,000 annually because of my experience and skill set."
- "I believe that a salary between $73,000 and $78,000 annually matches the industry average and goes well with my experience level and skills. However, I am open to hearing what the company expects to pay for this position."
- "Based on the requirements of the role as I understand them and in line with my experience, I believe I would be a good fit for the job. I am open to negotiations for a compensation package from between $40,000 and $50,000 a year."
Negotiating low offers
Low offers can be disheartening, but receiving a job offer with a lower starting salary than you are happy to accept doesn't mean you need to turn down the job.
Remember, it's important to know your worth. By offering you the job, the hiring manager has indicated they think you'd be a good fit for their company. It's perfectly okay to say, "Thank you for the offer, but the current salary offer is too low." You can then ask if they are open to negotiating.
It's okay to need to take a moment to think. If you're offered the job but the offered salary is underwhelming and you need a chance to think, it's a good idea to say something like, "Thank you for the job offer. I need to take a few days to discuss it with my family." This will give you some breathing room to think through your next steps.
Be polite, and be prepared to mention the justification for your desired salary, including your skills, experience and what makes you a good fit for the role.
If the hiring manager doesn't appear open to negotiation, it's okay to politely say "I'm sorry, but that offer is too low, and I can't accept anything below (minimum salary)." Sometimes, they may find different ways of getting you on board, such as including other perks or benefits. Other times, it simply isn't meant to be and another role better suited might come along soon.
It’s essential to research and prepare yourself to answer the desired salary question and appear sure of yourself during a job interview. Make sure you have an answer in mind before the interview.
Make your job application stand out from the rest with the right qualifications. MCI Institute offers online business courses in Australia to help you refine your skills and add to your resume, which makes you a valuable candidate for any job you apply to.
After completing a course with MCI Institute, you will be prepared for the job market and ready to ask for the salary you deserve!
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