How to respond to questions about salary expectations

It can be an awkward moment when a recruiter asks you about your salary expectations during a job interview.

As a job seeker, you don’t want to ask for too much, lest you be deemed to be too expensive for the company and get passed over without negotiation. At the same time, you don’t want to aim too low and end up getting less than what you’re worth.

If you ask for a low salary, a recruiter may also pass their own internal judgment about the value you can bring to the company: If they’re asking for so little, maybe they aren’t as experienced as I thought.

Talking about money also lowers the conversation to a transaction, as if being evaluated for a job is the same as deciding which washing machine you want to buy. It shifts the spirit of the conversation away from one of partnership, where the focus is on achieving goals and being inspired, to one of hard numbers.

If you can avoid talking about money on the first interview, do it – but the recruiter may ask you about your salary expectations regardless. This is because the employer wants to quickly determine what your expectations are to ensure that neither of you are wasting your time. It doesn’t make sense to go through an entire selection process with a candidate only to find out that their salary expectations can’t be met.

Know your market

The first step in knowing how to answer questions related to salary is to do your homework. Find out what the average salary is for your type of job, with your level of experience, and put this information into context for the type of organization you’re applying to.

You can visit this site: to get a sense of pay scales in many different fields.

You could also ask friends and colleagues in your industry and who have jobs similar to yours about how much they make in their positions.

It’s always a good idea to decide on an absolute base minimum salary that you would accept for the position you’re interviewing for. What you choose as your minimum is up to you.

Try to empathize with the level or resources the employer is working with. For example, it won’t help you to have unreasonably high salary expectations from non-profit organizations, or small companies that are just getting off the ground.

If you can avoid the question…

The first time a prospective employer asks you about your salary expectation, do your best to not commit to a firm number. As we mentioned, there’s often more to lose than there is to gain from answering directly.

You could answer that your salary would have to be discussed, and would depend on the company’s pay scale and of course whether or not there is interest in your candidature.

The recruiter might ask for a hard number anyway, for reasons I already explained. They may simply ask what your current salary is and then ask what your expectations would be for the position you’re applying for.

Faced with these types of questions, adapt and tell them what your expectations are. You don’t have much choice if you want the job!

How to say it

If you do state a number, you must not hesitate when you say it.

If talking about money makes you nervous – practice! Salary negotiations are a key moment of the interview process, and will reveal how much you value your own work. It’s a good way to evaluate your level of confidence.

When you give your number, explain why you think it’s the right amount. You can talk about the market, the level of responsibility of the position, your experience, what the position is going to demand of you, and other pertinent information.

How to negotiate on other points

I always advise my clients not to negotiate too forcefully during the interview, especially if they are very interested in the position.

If you are really dissatisfied with the offer, you can always renegotiate several months after being hired. At that point, you will be in a better position to ask for more: you already have experience and know the real value of what you’re bringing to the organization.

During the interview, you can accept their offer but also mention that you want to revisit the terms of your agreement once you achieve certain objectives.

Another option is to ask to be tasked with certain special projects that you find interesting, or to have access to a coach or mentor.

If you are at the beginning or in the middle of your career, keep in mind that the opportunities you will be able to develop through your work are often more valuable financially over the long term than your base salary.

Developing new skills that may be well-appreciated by future employers is very similar in concept to investing your money in the stock market – the idea is to grow your value over time.

It’s not only about money

Remember that your salary will never determine your true value. Accordingly, don’t think that someone who makes less money is less important, or that their work has less value.

Many different factors affect a person’s compensation. Avoid building your sense of self-esteem solely on how much you make in salary.

Also remember that while salary responds to an essential need, in the long term, one’s salary tends to have little to do with overall job satisfaction.

In closing, I suggest you check out the content of this article in video format via the link below. At the same time you can explore my YouTube playlist that features different types of content for job seekers.

Source: Jobboom – Mathieu Guénette

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