How To Confidently Answer “What Are Your Salary Expectations?”

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How To Confidently Answer “What Are Your Salary Expectations?”

Embarking on interviews can feel like an exhilarating journey—a chance to showcase your skills and leave a lasting impression. Yet, amidst the excitement, there's often a moment of uncertainty when the interviewer asks, “What are your salary expectations?” While it may seem daunting, it's an opportunity to affirm your worth and align your aspirations with your potential role. Let's navigate this question confidently and optimistically, ensuring it becomes a stepping stone towards your professional success.

Even if you have a sense of your desired salary, you, like many, struggle to answer this question. Getting asked about your current salary or your salary expectations often trips people up.

You feel the need to respond with a specific amount, but if you go too low, you may earn less than they would be willing to pay. You could price yourself out of the position if you go in too high. It pays to get this answer right since your starting salary is often the basis for future compensation decisions and discussions.

Here is some of RecruitMyMom’s best advice on answering this question so you can feel prepared and confident in your next interview.


Strategies for answering “What are your salary expectations?”


Strategy #1: Redirect the conversation

You may not want to answer this question directly for many reasons, and that is fair. You may feel you were underpaid in the past, and anchoring on your current or previous salary will work against you. But remember, you do not need to give a number.

During an interview, you are navigating uncharted waters, and this is not the ideal place to negotiate a salary. Wait until your personality and experience have completely blown them away. You will then have more leverage and confidence in your negotiations.


Here are two ways to redirect the conversation:


1. Turn the question around and ask about their budget:

“I don’t understand the full scope of the role at this point in the process to accurately price myself, but I would love to know the budgeted salary range.”

If the interviewer is transparent about their budget, they’ll want to know whether that meets your expectations. It’s OK to be vague at this point and say:

“That’s helpful to know. If you were to offer me the job, is there room to negotiate?”


2. Move past the question and go back to your qualifications:

You could say something like:

“I’m still trying to understand the role and what’s involved. I’d love to continue discussing my qualifications and why I think I’m a good fit for the position.”

While it may seem as though you're sidestepping the question, considering the significance of the matter, these responses are entirely fitting.


Strategy #2: Offer a salary range

You may enter the interview with enough information to answer the question, “What is your salary expectation?” Or your attempts to deflect the question have not worked, and the interviewer is pressing you for an answer. In this scenario, it will help to give a salary range.

If you go this route, you will need to do your research before the interview so you have a realistic idea of the typical salary range for the role and your experience concerning it.


Here are some tips to help you determine a salary range:


  1. Sometimes, a salary range will accompany the job posting. This will give you an idea of what the company will pay, and you can place yourself within that range.
  2. Compare your qualifications and experience with the job description and determine where you may fit in the range.
  3. You can do your research using websites like Payscale or Glassdoor. This will help you understand what the going rate is for the position you are applying for and its’ seniority level.
  4. Don't hesitate to seek support and guidance from mentors, peers, or professional networks, especially from other women who have navigated similar negotiations. Their insights and experiences can provide valuable perspectives and empower you to advocate effectively for yourself.
  5. If you are working with a recruitment agency, you can always ask them for the salary range. They are experienced and will be able to guide you concerning your qualifications and experience.  

This is a good exercise to do before any interview, regardless of whether they ask you what your salary expectation is or not. This information will help you when it comes time to negotiate your salary, should you be offered the position.

Read our article: Salary negotiation tips for working women.

Be careful not to get fixated on a specific number. If you are not offered the salary you had in mind, you may be disappointed.


After determining a suitable salary range through research, here's how to effectively communicate it during your interview:


Indicate your range and explain why you chose it. Highlight that your value proposition makes you a strong candidate for the job and some of your research.

Acknowledge that salary is just one factor in your decision to accept the job. Make it clear that you’re interested in learning more about other benefits as well.

Signal flexibility so that your answer doesn’t come off as a demand but as the beginning of a conversation. Express your enthusiasm about potentially joining the company.


Here are three examples of how to share your answer in an interview:


Example #1:

“In line with my experience and qualifications, I am looking for a competitive salary. Based on my research and the requirements of the role as I understand them, I would expect a salary in the range of X to Y. Of course, I’m open to discussing the details of the entire compensation package since salary is just one factor. I’m particularly excited to learn more about the opportunities for growth and development here.”


Example #2:

“I’ve done some research on similar roles in the industry, and with my background and knowledge in [name details pertinent to the job description], I hope to earn between X and Y in my next position. I am confident that I would be a great addition to your team, and I would be interested in finding out more about your salary range for the position as well as any additional benefits you provide.”


Example #3:

“Considering my experience, my expected salary falls between X and Y. There are other factors that are significant to me besides pay, so I would be interested in learning more about your benefits package and other advantages. What matters most to me is finding a place where I can thrive. I can be flexible around the exact numbers for a job that’s a great fit.”

Select the option that you find most comfortable, and personalise the wording to make it sound like you. 


Why do employers ask, “What is your salary expectation?”


It is useful to understand why employers bring up this question at this stage of the interview process. In short, they want to be sure they can afford you.

It is in their best interest not to waste their time (or yours) going through multiple rounds of interviews and offers if they cannot meet your salary expectations. Employers ask this question because there is a budget for every position within an organisation, and they want to ensure your salary expectations meet that budget.

From your perspective, this question will ensure that the budgeted salary meets your expectations. This will also provide a foundation for salary negotiations later in the interview, should you succeed.

Equipped with this insight, you can approach your interview with readiness and confidence. Remember your inherent value; as you respond to "What are your salary expectations?" in the interview, trust that you deserve to be there. Speak with confidence; we have faith in you.

RecruitMyMom understands the immense value of hiring women, so get past the awkwardness of the question and get to the good stuff: you!

Read our article on 5 Invaluable Interview Answers To "What’s Your Greatest Weakness?"

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