How do you answer the interview question, “What are your salary expectations?” This post is the fifth in a series of excerpts from my upcoming eBook, Get That Job! The Quick and Complete Guide to a Winning Job Interview, available from Amazon.
“What are your salary expectations?”
Answering this question too specifically can lose you a lot of money, or an opportunity. Naming a figure that’s too low can result in a lower offer, or even loss of the opportunity if your answer creates doubt about your value. A figure that’s too high can immediately disqualify you.
This is one of the few questions where formulaic, memorized verbiage may be the best approach.
First, as soon as you apply for a job make sure you understand the range of typical salaries for the position and geographic area, because this may be one of the first questions you will be asked in a phone screen, which could happen at any time.
You can research salaries via websites like Salary, Payscale, Glassdoor, Indeed, CareerOneStop, JobSearchIntelligence, a simple Google search, and sometimes via word of mouth. Use more than one source, since a broader range may give you more negotiating flexibility.
When the question is asked, respond with “Can you tell me what range you have budgeted for the position?”
If they tell you a range, say something like, “That seems like a reasonable ballpark. I’m sure once we agree I’m the right person for the job, we’ll be able to agree on a salary that’s fair.”
If they won’t state their range and put the question back onto you, say something like, “I’ve done some research and I’m seeing salaries anywhere from X to Y. I’m sure once we agree I’m the right person for the job we’ll be able to agree on a salary that’s fair.”
Click here for an infographic that makes these steps visual!
A related question: “How much have you been making?”
In many states, it is illegal for a potential employer to ask what you made in your last job. Nevertheless, it’s possible that they’ll ask anyway, and calling them on their mistake can destroy rapport and cost you an offer. If you’ve been paid substantially below or above market rate, stating your salary history may result in a lowball offer or a rejection. Instead, consider deflecting the question by asking about their budgeted range, and if necessary referring to a range based on your salary research, as described above.
More Help with Common Interview Questions
Earlier posts in this series explored the common interview questions “What are your weaknesses?”, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”, “Why did you leave your job?” and “What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made on the job?” For more posts like these you can subscribe to my helpful job search blog.
For tips on dozens of common interview questions (and some not-so-common ones) and much more, check out my book on Amazon.