This interview question can put many of the best candidates on the spot if they do not prepare their answers. An employer with salary expectation questions wants to know if they can afford to hire you and if you value yourself in the workplace. Advance planning by researching current salary trends will help you answer this question in your next interview.
Here are 10 ways to help you craft the perfect answer for your next job interview.
3 Tips for Your Answer
- Do your research and prepare.
- Keep an open mind for negotiations.
- Be honest.
3 Mistakes to Avoid
- Providing your current salary information.
- Coming across as inflexible or arrogant.
- Discussing their current employee’s average salaries.
Example Answer #1: Delaying Your Answer
Essentially, you deflect this salary question by giving them a vague response as a starting point that does not include a salary amount until later in the interview process.
“Before I decide on a salary range, I would like more information about the current position and what the job duties are. Can you expand on what the requirements are for this job?”
Why we like it: This answer does not set you up too low or too high, leaving it wide open for negotiations later. This way, you show your heightened interest in the position and your object of making a knowledgeable decision.
Example Answer #2: Starting Negotiations with a Range
Some job seekers prefer to give a reasonable salary range to keep further negotiations open.
“I have done a lot of research during my career as a marketing rep and found that the going rate of between $40,000 and $60,000 is average for positions that are similar to this position at ABC Company.”
Why we like it: Choosing a salary range will give you some wiggle room when it comes down to deciding on a final number later. This way, you do not sell yourself short, but you also do not scare away a potential employer with a number that is too high.
Example Answer #3: Expand on Other Compensation Expectations
Money is not the only consideration for many employees in today’s industries. Other compensations methods, including benefits, can come into play.
“I try not to choose a specific figure when it comes to salary amounts since I take the total compensation package into mind when deciding on employment. Can you tell me more about any additional benefits or compensation that you offer your employees?”
Why we like it: This response shows the hiring manager that you look further than just the dollar amount in a job title. Compensation can include excellent health benefits, stock options, pension contributions, and other employee bonuses.
Example Answer #4: Ask the Employer Its Salary Range Cap
No rule says you cannot turn the question around on the prospective employer. You can use it to deflect from your answer and get an idea of what the company’s available salary range will be.
“I do not have salary expectations at this time, as I have not put much thought into compensation because my focus is whether I am a good fit for this position. Are you able to provide a general idea of what your current salary range is for this role?”
Why we like it: Not only will you avoid putting yourself on the spot during the recruitment process, but you can also find out what the company is willing to pay for the position.
Example Answer #5: Give a Confident Answer
Sometimes job hunters are confident in their workplace skills and a specific number that is desirable in a salary. This confidence can be beneficial during salary negotiations, provided that the confidence doesn’t come off as arrogance.
“I have over 15 years of past experience in the customer service industry and feel my current skillset and talents can benefit the team at XYZ Company. In addition, I am looking for an annual salary of around $45,000, which is on par with other competitors in the market today.”
Why we like it: This response lets the employer know of your senior experience level, and that you have certain salary requirements. Having the confidence to ask for what you want shows you take pride in your skills and feel you would be a valuable asset to a company.
Example Answer #6: Discuss Current Market Salary Trends
You should expect some negotiations whether you are in the first, second, or even third interview with an organization. Discussing current salary trends in the industry may help you receive a more competitive offer.
“I found while researching local companies that the average salary ranges from $35,000 up to $65,000 for similar roles within the local shipping and receiving market. Can you indicate how your company fits within this industry-standard range?”
Why we like it: Knowing your worth and what other companies pay their employees will be helpful when negotiating a salary at a new job. The above sample response prompts the potential employer to provide you with a ballpark figure in case you need to revise your expectations from your initial offer.
Example Answer #7: Offer No Set Salary Amount
Some entry-level jobs will require no experience, and the candidate will want a position no matter what the salary is. So, although you do not want to seem desperate, you can still provide a vague answer to this common interview question.
“Starting as an entry-level employee, I realize that the salary offered will reflect the position. Although I do not have an ideal salary in mind, I am certain that your company would offer fair compensation for this role. In addition, I would be comfortable discussing how my recent educational background can help benefit the team here at ABC Company.”
Why we like it: This answer has the job candidate coming across as reasonable and puts trust in the employer for a fair salary without seeming desperate for a job.
Example Answer #8: Talk About Flexible Work Schedules
Sometimes employers love a candidate but cannot afford to hire them full-time. Countering with flexible work schedules can help both parties meet in the middle.
“I am looking for a position with a base salary of around $60,000 annually. If that is out of the company’s current budget, I am open to a flexible work schedule or alternative remote workdays as an option if it is a great fit for everyone.”
Why we like it: Responding with a figure but leaving it open-ended to negotiation and the potential for decreased work hours or remote options can help the employer’s budget and make the position more desirable with a better work-life balance.
Example Answer #9: Ask for a Higher Salary
Some individuals have a successful career, and although they are entertaining the idea of employment elsewhere, they may not need it. Asking for a higher range in salary can help weed out any lowballers that will not pay enough for the position.
“I feel fortunate to have been working in the service industry for decades, and my current role reflects my extensive background knowledge. My 20 years of experience is typically compensated with an average salary of $110,000. In addition, all of my certifications are current, and I am ready to hit the ground running here at XYZ Company.”
Why we like it: This response includes your extensive level of experience and how you can benefit the organization while ensuring the employer knows your worth. This approach can help sift through companies that are not prepared to pay what you want and will save both you and the hiring team time during the hiring process.
Example Answer #10: Offer a Lower End Amount
Sometimes job seekers are desperate for a job. It happens to the best of us. If this is your situation and you are comfortable with working your way up through the ranks, the below type of response can get your foot in the door.
“After researching your position for a mail clerk, I found that the salary range typically falls between $25,000 and $35,000 for full-time positions. Honestly, I would love to just be a part of the team here at ABC Company to learn and grow my skills in the industry. I think the $25,000 annual rate is more than fair for this role and would be excited to start as soon as possible.”
Why we like it: This response shows you have researched the company and the industry average while indicating your interest in the organization. In addition, a lower salary offer can mean the difference between two job candidates of equal skills getting hired because one has already accepted the lower rate.
Going into the first interview with an organization can make anyone nervous, especially when a recruiter asks you about the kind of salary you expect. But with a little preparation, job seekers do not need to be nervous about responding to tricky salary expectations questions. As a general rule, you should prepare for this important question. Do a little research into market trends to provide them with an informed answer that will benefit you and the employer in the end.
Keith Miller has over 25 years of experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith's work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.