What are your salary expectations? 4 tips for how to give a great answer

Advice for how to answer the “what are your salary expectations?”  interview question

Know your market worth

Know your market value before you go in – it’s all part of your interview preparation.  If the job advert hasn’t indicated a range for the salary you should do your research and find out what comparable jobs are paying.

You can use online job listings, salary surveys, agencies, LinkedIn or good old fashioned asking people who are in that industry what they would expect to pay / be paid for that role to get an idea of what will be on offer.

Be confident – but realistic

Strike a balance between bargain basement and “in your dreams” levels but always start the discussion firmly on the side of an optimistically but realistically aggressive level.

Give them something to work with

Quote a range.  If you are aiming to earn €60,000 p.a. then answer the salary expectations question by saying that based on your experience, what you believe you can bring to the role and your knowledge of the market you would like to earn between €60,000 – €70,000.  Don’t make the range so wide that it becomes meaningless and always place what your target is at the lower end of the range.


Don’t say no too early 

Everything is negotiable. There may be other elements to the total compensation that are not captured in the salary number.  If they tell you that your number is too high, ask them what else is included in the package.

Anticipate that when you answer their “What are your salary expectations?” question  they will say your number is too high.  Be ready for the conversation. Sometimes you will just have to walk away if the level if too low for you to live on but other times asking questions re benefits, bonuses and opportunities for promotion may give you some more information that will translate to a higher overall number for you in the short to medium term.

Tell them that the salary level is lower than you are targeting but you “would be interested in seeing the complete remuneration package”. Once you have seen it and calculated what the other non-salary items are worth to you you can give them your answer.

If you want to practise answering other tricky interview questions and receive detailed feedback before your upcoming interview, Hilt’s Interview Training service is for you.

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