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How to Answer Questions About Salary in a Job Interview
Interview Questions About Salary Expectations
Interviewers ask a variety of questions to determine how much you want to be paid and what you feel you are worth. Planning your answer in advance of the interview will ensure you remain calm, confident and assured. Here's a few examples.
1. “Tell me about your salary expectations”
2. “Tell me what you are worth”
3. “On a sliding scale from £-£, tell me where you fit in”
4. “What package are you looking for?”
5. "What would a fair compensation package be for you?"
What Salary are You Worth?
Everyone wants to earn a decent salary and at the very least; earn what they are worth.
Before you answer any questions surrounding salary expectations, it is advisable to research your sector and if you can, find out the salary range the company is willing to offer, together with any benefits that may be available additions or included as standard. Many job descriptions detail some or all of this information, but if not; call the company for more information. They may not provide a solid answer, but you should expect them to at least give you a salary range for most positions.
If the company won't give out salary information - many will want to keep this confidential to all except the successful candidate - search online for salary calculators (many job boards provide this service) and type in the job title, area in which the company trades, sector in which it operates and level of seniority if it is an ambiguous job title, such as Duty Manager or Team Leader, for example.
By having the knowledge of what salary is likely to be realistic, you will be in a stronger position to negotiate a reasonable package.
Be Honest With Yourself
Be completely honest with yourself when trying to guesstimate the salary you are worth. Note that here, I am saying "worth" and not need. What you need to get by financially should not be the deciding factor for the monetary figure you choose.
Place yourself on the sliding scale of the salary range according to your transferable skills, experience and expertise. It's no good asking for the top end of the money if you have not worked in that industry before or have limited experience. If you have oodles of experience, tick every requirement on the job specification and have a great reputation, then go in high.
Similarly, if you have perhaps worked for one of the organisation's competitors, smashed all targets and have won awards, then go for it! You deserve it!
Do be prepared for further questions on why you feel you are worth your selected amount. Now is not the time to be shy. If you are completely honest about your salary expectations, you should be able to verbalise your justification for your end figure.
Most companies nowadays offer in-work benefits to their employees. Typical examples include a selection of the following:
- Travel expenses
- Company car
- Mobile cell-phone
- Discounted or free meals
- Product discounts
- Gym membership
- Health or life insurance
- Medical care
- Eyesight tests
- Dental care
- Enhanced holidays
- Free or discounted training
- Incentive rewards
- Professional memberships
- Childcare vouchers
- Cycle to work scheme
Negotiating Your Salary During a Job Interview
This is where you have to think carefully and thoroughly prepare in advance. Remember that this is about determining what you are worth, however, it is important that you don't sell yourself short and work yourself to the bone without meeting your financial needs to survive.
Money is not the only thing on offer in many jobs, so find out what the in-work benefits are. Many companies offer a selection, which I have detailed in the box on the right.
Whatever is on offer, remember that everything has the potential to be negotiated so talk in terms of the whole package and not just the money, but in order to be effective, you need to have all the facts. Maybe the company just can't budge on the money they offer, but they might be able to give you an extra 10% staff discount or increase your holiday entitlement. If you don't ask, you don't get!
Another consideration is to work out any tax deductions that will arise from salary and benefits packages or if additional money may put you into a higher tax band. Have a look online for tax calculators where you can play around with some figures if you think thresholds may affect you.
Don’t feel pressurised to give a complete answer during the interview. You haven’t got the job yet, and the last thing you want to do is alienate yourself from the running by pricing yourself too high or undervaluing your skills and experience.
Politely give a salary range or indication of the package and say that you will give this your full and informed consideration if you are offered the role. Most interviewers will respect the fact that you are taking this question seriously and are not a loose canon when it comes to financial decisions.
Most hiring managers are just looking for a rough idea to see if they are able to afford you, but if you are pressed for an answer, then go for the mid-range so that you have room for negotiations when the offer is on the table. It is important to realise that no matter what you say during the interview, you can change your mind and negotiate a higher salary or an increase of benefits once they offer you the job as you will be in a stronger position.
Striking a Balance
You may be asked how much you are currently earning or what your salary was in previous job roles. If this happens, make sure that you include any perks of the job or in-work benefits so that the hiring manager understands your full compensation package and not just the monetary figure.
If you have completed an application form where you have included previous salaries or salary expectation, ensure your answer is consistent with the information you have already provided.
Whatever you say during the interview, allow the interviewer to see that you are flexible and talk confidently using examples of why you have come to a particular range of figures. Never be ambiguous or use sweeping statements, such as "I feel I am worth it."
Finally, never raise the subject of salary in a job interview. Leave it to the interviewer to start this topic. The same can be said about asking about perks of the job, such as holidays, benefits and overtime hours. The interview should always be run on the premise that you are trying to show the interviewer how you can benefit their organisation, why they need you above all the other candidates and that you are a perfect fit rather than you trying to establish what's in it for you - you can do that once you get your foot in the door!
Good luck! Let me know if you have had any success in negotiating your salary and share your top tips. I am also keen to hear if you have made any mistakes and are now regretting not asking for more.