How To Answer “What Are Your Salary Expectations?”

One of the most awkward questions you might face during an interview is, “What are your salary expectations?”

Many candidates get thrown off by this question, and for a good reason. It’s a tricky question to answer.

On one hand, you don’t want to sell yourself too low. If you provide a figure that is below what you could have actually gotten, you may suffer the consequences for months or years to come, earning a lower figure than you could have.

There is a risk of stating a figure that is too high as well. You might scare away a potential employer who cannot afford your desired salary, and they may pick another candidate without even telling you why.

Fortunately, this article will give you excellent advice on answering this challenging question.

Also Read: Signs Your Interview Went Bad

Why Do Employers Ask This Question?

Why Do Employers Ask This Question?

Image Source: Shutterstock

You may wonder why interviewers ask this question in the first place. After all, don’t they know how much they are willing to offer?

Understanding why your interviewer is asking this question will help you answer it correctly.

Make Sure They Can Afford You

Sometimes, the recruiter simply wants to know if they can afford to hire you. If you state a figure that is too high, and you are unwilling to accept a lower salary, they might have to hire someone else instead.

It’s a simple compatibility issue.

Also Read: What Motivates You In Life? Interview Question Answered

Determine Your Worth

Determine Your Worth

Image Source: Shutterstock

However, another big and more subtle reason interviewers ask this is to determine your worth. They want to know how much you value yourself.

Someone who knows their worth will charge higher. They know what they deserve and are not willing to sell themselves short.

They also have the confidence to ask for what they want, knowing they can get a job with another firm with their desired conditions if they are refused.

Someone who doesn’t know their own worth might hesitate when answering this question, fumbling for an answer. Alternatively, they may state a figure that is too low based on their experience and education, which demonstrates that they lack confidence in their own skills.

Why is this important to interviewers? Someone who isn’t confident in what they do won’t be assured in making the right decisions at work.

They may fail to take on a leadership role when required. Alternatively, they may be unsure of their skills because they know, deep down, that they aren’t that good at what they do.

Also ReadGood Signs You Will Get The Job After Interview

Tips for Answering the Question, “What Are Your Salary Expectations?”

Now that you understand what your interviewer thinks when they ask this question, how can you go about answering it? Here are some tips for answering this question.

1. Research the Market

Research the Market

Image Source: Shutterstock

You must research the market beforehand. Otherwise, how can you know which range to give when asked about your desired salary?

It’s best to do your research before you even attend your first interview because you never know when this question will come up.

There are a few online resources you can use to research the market and discover the average salary for your position – and for someone who has your experience and education and fits your demographics.

Here are some helpful websites to use:

It’s best to use several sources to get a more accurate understanding of what the position should pay.

Also ReadAnswers To Weaknesses Question In An Interview

2. Consider Your Needs

Consider Your Needs

Image Source: Shutterstock

The average salary in the industry shouldn’t be the only thing that influences your answer. You must also take your own needs into account.

For example, if you need to relocate to a new city to get the job, you might want to ask for a higher salary to cover the relocation costs. Alternatively, you may ask for a one-time signing bonus to help you cover your moving cost.

Another big thing to consider, if you are relocating, is the cost of living in your new area. While you may be accustomed to spending $3,000/month on living expenses, the new city may require a monthly expenditure of $3,500 to maintain the same standard of living.

You must factor that into your equation when considering a salary range.

Transportation is another issue. If you need to commute to the job when you would otherwise be working at home, you might have to budget extra for gas, tolls, or public transportation.

Of course, there are your personal needs as well. If you are looking for a higher-paying job because you have a baby on the way, make sure the salary you decide on will cover it.

Also ReadBest Follow Up Emails After An Interview & No Response For A Week

3. Consider Your Experience and Education

Consider Your Experience and Education

Image Source: Shutterstock

While the average salary might be a certain amount, you may be qualified to get more based on your extensive industry experience and top-notch education.

Potential employees may very well be willing to pay you extra if you are in demand due to your skills, so don’t be afraid to ask for more.

Also ReadZoom Interview Etiquettes

4. Take Into Account Perks Like Health Insurance

Take Into Account Perks Like Health Insurance

Image Source: Shutterstock

The actual salary isn’t the only thing that you should care about. If the perks and bonuses are reasonable, you may be okay with getting a lower wage.

For example, if the job offers commuter benefits, you can save on transportation costs. The commuter benefits program allows employees to use their pre-tax dollars on commuting costs, up to $300/month, as per the IRS limit.

The type of health insurance your employer provides also makes a difference. As per the Affordable Care Act passed into law by Barack Obama, certain businesses (those with 50 or more employees) must provide health insurance to their workers.

Small businesses, however – those with fewer than 50 workers – don’t have to provide health insurance. The vast majority of American companies fall into this category.

Just because a business doesn’t have to provide health insurance doesn’t mean it won’t. The Affordable Care Act established SHOP, or the Small Business Health Options Program, for small business owners wishing to provide health coverage to employees.

In either case, your health insurance benefits will make a big difference in your life. If you have employer-provided health insurance, you won’t have to pay extra for private insurance, thus saving up to hundreds of dollars a month.

Not only that, but if you have a good plan that offers more comprehensive coverage, lower deductibles, and lower copays, you will save more money on your medical bills.

Does the employer offer more paid time off? If they do, you might settle for a slightly lower salary, knowing you’ll be able to enjoy a vacation without losing your paycheck.

Some companies will give employees company stock shares. That might be valuable enough for you to accept a lower salary upon negotiation.

However, it really depends on the actual value of the company, its growth potential, and its long-term outlook. If it’s an established company, owning stocks will mean a lot more than if it’s an unknown startup.

Also Read: How To Get Your Resume Noticed In 15 Seconds Guaranteed?

5. Give a Salary Range

Give a Salary Range

Image Source: Shutterstock

I recommend providing a salary range rather than a set figure. That helps avoid most of the complications that could arise from answering this question incorrectly.

By providing a salary range, you open things up to negotiation and show you are flexible. Instead of stating a salary that might be too high or too low, you can come to a middle ground, so you are both happy.

Furthermore, I recommend using a starting range that is the minimum you’re willing to go.

For example, let’s say you want a salary of at least $75,000/year. Many people will say they are okay with a wage that falls into the range of $70,000-80,000, but the employer might very well choose the lower end of the spectrum ($70k) instead of choosing the middle.

Instead, say you are okay with a salary of $75,000-85,000. That way, you will either get the minimum wage you are OK with or a higher salary that may even exceed your initial expectations.

Giving a salary range is often a better tactic than stating a set figure and saying you are open to negotiation (for example, “$75,000 negotiable”).

That’s because when you say you are negotiable, you aren’t being assertive enough with your desires. The vibe you’re giving off is that you might want $75,000, but you’re not sure if you truly deserve it, and you’re okay with something lower as long as you get the job.

It makes you look a little desperate. On the other hand, if you state a salary range, you are being more firm in what you wish for while also being flexible.

Also ReadWhy Should We Hire You With No Experience?

6. Don’t Sell Yourself Too Low – Know Your Worth

Don’t Sell Yourself Too Low – Know Your Worth

Image Source: Shutterstock

This is so important. When giving a salary range, don’t devalue yourself.

Believe in yourself! Use your research to come up with a figure that is appropriate for the industry and position and also meets your needs.

State what you want with confidence. Don’t hesitate.

Use affirmative, confident language when stating your desired salary. Here are examples that make you sound unsure of yourself:

  • “A salary of $40,000 is probably okay.” Avoid the use of words like “probably,” as that takes away the confidence factor. In addition, a better substitution for “okay” might be “reasonable” or “acceptable.”
  • “I’d like a starting salary of $50,000, but I’m willing to go lower if that’s not acceptable to you.” If you want a salary of $50k, go for it. If you are okay with going lower, state that upfront. Don’t be neither here nor there.
  • “How about $40,000 a year? Do you think that might be okay with you?” Don’t base what you want on what is okay with others. Remember, the interviewer wants to see how much you value yourself.

Also ReadWhat To Wear For Zoom Interview?

7. Explain Why You Gave the Answer You Did

Explain Why You Gave the Answer You Did

Image Source: Shutterstock

It’s always a good idea to back up your stated salary with a good reason. Here are some examples of how you might do that:

  • “Based on the responsibilities of the position, $80,000-90,000 is what I’m looking for.”
  • “I believe $50-55k to be an acceptable range based on my extensive experience in the industry and my qualifications.”
  • “$30,000-40,000 is the range I was thinking of. Ultimately, it depends on factors such as healthcare benefits, paid time off, and other perks.”
  • “I’m willing to begin with a starting salary of $45,000, subject to raises in the future.”

Explore: How To Answer “Walk Me Through Your Resume?”

8. It’s Okay to Deflect the Question

It’s Okay to Deflect the Question

Image Source: Shutterstock

It’s always best to be prepared for this question and answer it confidently.

However, what if you haven’t prepared for this question? Whether you haven’t researched average salaries in the industry, or the job includes responsibilities that you weren’t expecting (requiring you to adjust your salary), you can deflect the question in the short term.

You might say that you’ll decide once you figure out relocation costs or learn more about the roles you will have to take on.

Alternatively, you may turn the question around to the interviewer and ask them how much they think the job is worth.

Check OutShort & Sweet Follow Up Emails After A Job Interview

9. Some Things to Consider

Many recruiters will lowball you with offers well below what you are worth. You can avoid many of those situations by simply asking upfront what their salary range is or stating your desired salary range in your application.

Furthermore, don’t get too ahead of yourself. If you currently have a good job that offers security but are looking for something that pays better, feel free to state a number as high as you want (within reason).

After all, you have nothing to lose. You still have your current job to fall back on, and why leave it for something that doesn’t offer a significant salary increase?

On the other hand, if you have been looking for a job for a long time, and there isn’t a lot of availability in the industry, consider going a bit lower. If talent is in abundance and jobs are scarce, be realistic – if you’re not willing to go below a particular figure, it might take you a long time to find a good job.

Wrapping It Up

It takes a lot of courage to state your desired salary with self-assuredness. It’s important to practice being assertive and confident in general, as that will help you make a better first impression in your interviews.

Learn how to be assertive in your tone of voice, posture, and body language. Speak clearly and avoid filler words like “umm.”

About Author

Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.