“What are your salary expectations?” is a common interview question.
Pay may come up at some point during the interview process. Recruiters might ask this question in the first phone interview or wait until you meet in person to talk about pay. On an application form or in response to a salary range given by the employer, you might be asked directly how much money you want to make.
Even though asking about your salary expectations is one of the more straightforward questions an employer might ask during an interview, talking about money can be stressful. You can deal with this stress by being ready for questions about your salary. You can talk to potential employers about pay in a useful and informative way if you look up the average pay for the job and your level of experience.Why
employers want to know how much money you want to make
When an employer asks how much money you want, it’s usually for one of these three reasons:
- They have a plan for money. The person who is interviewing you wants to make sure that what you think about pay is the same as what they’ve decided for the job. If they find that most candidates want more than they thought they would, they might ask for a bigger budget for the job.
- They want to see if you know what your worth is. A good candidate knows how much their skills are worth on the market and can talk confidently about it. Think about your level, how long you’ve been in the field, and what you’ve done in your career to figure out what your market value should be.
- They want to know if you are acting professionally enough. If someone wants a lot more money than the other applicants, they might be too old for the job. On the other hand, if you say you want a low salary, it could mean you don’t have as much experience as the job needs.
Your answer to this question could be the first step in figuring out how much money you want. Because of this, you should make sure that your answer is based on good research.
How to talk about how much money you want when asked (with examples)
When a recruiter or hiring manager asks, “What are your salary expectations?” you can answer in a few ways. Here are some ideas and ways to answer them:
Provide a range
If you don’t want to give just one number, you could instead give a range. Keep in mind, though, that the employer may choose the lower number in your range, so make sure your goal number is as close as possible to the lowest number. Also, don’t make your range too big—it shouldn’t be more than $5,000 to $10,000.
I’m looking for a job that pays between $75,000 and $80,000 a year.
Offer choices for negotiating.
You might think that your benefits, perks, or other forms of pay are just as valuable as your salary. You could also use these things to try to reach a deal with someone. For instance, the employer might not have enough money in the budget for your ideal salary range, but they might be willing to give you stock in the company to make the pay package more appealing to you.
“I’m looking for a job that pays between $75,000 and $80,000 a year, but I’m open to negotiating my salary based on benefits, bonuses, equity, stock options, and other opportunities.”
Switch the topic.
If you’re still early in the hiring process and don’t know much about the duties and expectations of the job, you might want to save this question for later. But remember that you’ll still have to talk about pay at some point. Even if you don’t have all the information yet, it’s best to be ready with a well-researched number.
“Before I answer, I’d like to find out more about the job by asking a few more questions. So, I can tell you more about what you can expect.”
Here are a few more examples to help you choose the best answer as you look up average salaries.
“I’m open to different things, but I’d like to make between $83,000 and $87,000 a year. I think this is a good and comfortable range for my work because of my skills and level of experience.”
“I need at least $94,500 a year. I think that what I’m asking for pay is fair for the skills and value I can bring to this job. Do you understand this?”
“Let me start by saying again how thankful I am for the perks of this job, like paid time off and health insurance. So, I think my annual pay for this job will be between $45,000 and $50,000. The organization can benefit from my many years of experience in customer service in this industry.”
“I’m glad you asked. I think that a salary between $67,000 and $72,000 per year is about average for the field and a good fit for my skills and level of experience. I’m also willing to be flexible and find out how much the company plans to pay for this job.
How to figure out what salary you want and how to talk about it
It can be awkward to talk about your ideal salary in an interview, especially if you’ve never been asked this question before and are talking about it for the first time. Here are some things you can do to make sure the conversation goes well and you get a fair salary:
When you know the average salary range for a job, you might want to ask for a little more. Most of the time, an employer will start you off at the low end of what you can offer. By aiming higher, you can make sure that you’ll make your goal number even if they offer the lowest number. For example, if you want to make $45,000, don’t say you want a salary between $40,000 and $50,000. Say between $45,000 and $50,000 instead.
Some employers care about what you say as well as how you say it. If you’re sure of yourself and confident, it shows that you know what you’re worth and won’t settle for less than you deserve. If you try to get ahead by underselling yourself, you might end up making too little.
Why did you do what you did?
You don’t have to go into too much detail about how you came up with the salary you want, but it doesn’t hurt to explain. If you want to earn more than the average in your area, highlighting your experience or level of education can help you justify your salary. Be careful not to go too far over the amount, or you could be seen as overqualified. This tip could be used in the following way:
“The average salary for a professional with my level of experience in this field for this job is between $110,000 and $115,000, so that’s what I’d expect for this role.”
When an interviewer asks what salary you want, having a well-thought-out answer that is backed up by data will make sure you don’t undersell yourself or aim too high. By giving an honest, well-thought-out answer, you can help the interviewer figure out if your expectations match up and, if everything goes well, what salary would be enough to get you to join the team.
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