Interview Tips

How to answer: What salary expectations do you have?

By: Melanie Bacallao
Aug 24, 2020 • 2 min read

How to answer: What salary expectations do you have?

Discussing pay can be stressful for such a straightforward question. Recruiters typically ask candidates to provide a range on their application — whether through a cover letter or phone screening. Other employers like to directly question salary expectations during a face-to-face interview. This question is often asked, especially by smaller companies, because of their strict budget. But in turn, they also want to know how highly do you regard yourself in terms of your skills and confidence. Knowing how to research so you can state a decent compensation range can be a significant gain for you and your hiring manager.

You can take many approaches to this type of question without risking a job offer. These tips provide a way to relieve stress from being asked any salary-related questions during your interview.

salary expectations

1. Research Industry-standard Wage

It’s pivotal to provide a well-informed response that matches what you believe you should gain. An excellent way to measure how much you should be paid is by researching the industry standard of the position. Pay varies depending on geographical location, cost-of-living, company, degree, experience, and more. By examining the industry-standard wage, it gives you a foundation to work on to determine how much you should get paid.

There are many sites when it comes to determining the industry average:

Example: “According to the industry-standard, this role typically gains $55,000 annually. I believe that my thorough experience and career level should place me somewhere higher than that.”

2. Provide a Range

Providing a range to your employer can be rather tricky, as they will typically go with the lower end. Your target compensation should be the smallest number you provide; that way, you won’t feel like you’re not adequately compensated. Providing an amount lower than your target range would only make employers take advantage of your skillset. It may also inform employers that you undervalue yourself, or that your skill set may not be up to par with what they read on your resume. In turn, if you only suggest a specific number, it would be harder to negotiate pay.

Example: “I expect my salary range to be around $75,000-$85,000 annually due to my expertise and degree.”

salary expectations

3. Deflect or Negotiate

Introducing flexibility for your compensation can act as a safety net for a potential offer. Negotiations don’t have to be settled on just your salary, but also other benefits that the company can provide. However, some pay is usually sacrificed to have benefits and other opportunities. This can be a risky move to discuss for those who are more dependent on salary rather than benefits. You can always dodge the question if you feel like you still need to learn more about the position first before giving any sort of answer. 

Benefits to discuss in trade of compensation:

  • Health or dental insurance
  • 401k matching
  • Equity or stocks
  • Bonus pay
  • Flexible hours
  • Employee discount
  • Other opportunities

Example: “While the industry average is around $65,000 annually for this position, I would love to discuss other options such as benefits within your company.”

Example: “Actually, I would love to know more about the role before I can give a proper response in regards to my salary.”

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