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Answering salary expectations can often be a bit of an awkward topic; what if you ask for too much? Too little? We know, it can be overwhelming. So, that’s why we’ve created this guide on how to answer salary expectation questions for both entry-level and experienced professionals. We’ll go over why employers ask what your salary expectations are, how to figure out yours, and how to express that to employers. So, read on to become an expert on how to answer salary expectation questions, or scroll down to our key points for the rundown.
Why employers question your salary expectations
Employers ask about your salary expectations for two main reasons: to see if they can afford you, and how much you think you’re worth. The first reason is quite self-explanatory; recruiters have budgets, so if you’re out of their salary range, there’s no use continuing with the recruitment process.
The second reason is a bit more abstract; how you value your worth, experience, and skills. Recruiters will have a good idea of the industry-standard pay for your experience and skill set, but what’s on paper doesn’t mean everything. Are you asking for below the industry average? That could signal that you are unqualified or unconfident in your abilities. On the other hand, asking for above the industry average might signal you’re too senior for the role or come across as plain cocky. So, it’s important to get it right. How? Let’s prepare for how to answer salary expectation questions by first figuring out what your salary expectations are.
What are your salary expectations?
Preparing an answer to ‘what is your expected salary?’ is important. You don’t want to just randomly blurt out a number, as this can hurt your chances of getting paid as much as you should, or even getting the job! But figuring out your worth is tricky, so let’s go over what to put or say for salary expectation questions.
Researching how much your position pays on average is the best benchmark for minimum salary expectations. Look at salary info sites, LinkedIn, other vacancies, and ask colleagues or people in your network. This will give you an insight into the range you should be asking for. But, make sure to gather info from multiple sources; don’t take the first figure you see or hear as your answer for salary expectations.
It’s also important to look inward; what are your costs, priorities, and desires? Does the company you’re interviewing for offer other benefits which are more important to you than a high salary? This could be anything from the amount of annual leave to free lunches at work. Salaries are just one part of the picture, so make sure you take a step back and consider everything. Looking inward also means considering your background and skills; are you top in your field and so deserve more than the research tells you? Believe in your abilities and worth.
Tips for answering salary expectation questions
When answering salary expectations, your behaviour and presentation are just as important as what you say.
You want to appear confident and open. How? Our interview tips and body language tips will come in handy here. When you’ve got the right attitude, you appear more trustworthy and like you really are worth how much you say you are. You’re far more likely to get the salary you’re after.
If you don’t look the part, you’re much less likely to get your desired salary expectation - especially if you’re high-balling. So, dress for success; find interview outfit inspiration on our site. Proper behaviour and presentation only apply when you’re being interviewed about your salary expectations, not in job applications or emails. There, your words are what matter. Take a look below for what you should say.
What to say when asked for salary expectations
You’ve got three main options when it comes to answering salary expectations on applications, in emails, or in person. Give a range, negotiate, or flip the question back. Each are valid methods that are useful in different scenarios.
No matter what your approach is, we recommend always aiming a bit higher. Not by a ridiculous amount, but employers will often try to come in lower, so it’s best to have some wiggle room. Also, give a brief explanation to employers why you think you’re deserving of that expected salary. This could be your skill set, experience, or something else. Now, let’s go over the three ways on what to say or write for salary expectation questions with examples.
Give a range
If you’re unsure about how to answer salary expectations, this is your best bet. Giving a range still answers the question, but gives you a bit of leeway. It can also show employers you’re flexible - a desirable trait. This doesn’t mean to go wild, though. A salary range of £30,000-£50,000 isn’t helpful for anyone. We recommend not exceeding a gap of £10,000, with a few thousand being the sweet spot. For example:
‘Due to my experience in the field and what I know about the position, I’m looking for a salary between £36,000 and £40,000 per year. I’m a bit flexible with the amount since other benefits, like holiday pay and growth opportunities, are also important to me.’
You don’t just have to give one salary expectation answer and that’s that; you can start a negotiation with your employer. This can show employers you’re flexible and confident; negotiating a salary is often not attempted by reserved individuals. For example:
‘Considering my skill set and the position offered, I’m looking for a salary between £34,000 and £37,000 per year. However, I’m open to negotiating this based on other benefits, bonuses, or opportunities you can offer.’
Flip the question
Flipping the question back to the employer can be a great way to figure out the minimum salary expectations. This is typically done when you want some more information before answering, or to try pull their salary expectations out. Flipping the script and requesting them to answer first can be risky, though; some employers will view that negatively. Below are examples of asking for some more information and having employers answer their salary expectations.
‘Before answering my salary expectations, I’d like to hear more about the position first. Can you please tell me some more about the main skills and qualifications you require of the ideal candidate, and some of the benefits offered by your company?’
‘Instead of giving my expected salary, it would be valuable to hear the salary range you are willing to offer to the ideal candidate.’
How to respond to salary expectation questions: key points
Answering salary expectation questions can seem daunting at first, but our tips make it relatively simple. First, figure out your expected salary beforehand. Research the position’s industry standard on Google and LinkedIn, ask colleagues, and view similar job vacancies. Consider what else is important to you too; does the position offer good benefits? Lots of holidays?
Now, time for the answer. How do you want to do this? We recommend giving a range slightly higher than you actually want, with a brief explanation of why this is what you expect. You can leave it at that or follow up with negotiations. Aren’t ready to answer? No problem; flip the question back to them.
Additionally, if you’re answering your salary expectations in an interview, you’ll want to keep your behaviour and presentation in mind. Appear confident, open, and trustworthy, and make sure your look is up to snuff. This is a great way to give a positive impression to employers and ensure you get your desired salary.
There’s the short of it. Keep these ideas in mind when figuring out how to answer salary expectation questions. Want some more job seeking advice? Check out our other salary tips, or browse through our articles on CV and interview tips. Then, you’re ready to begin your hunt. Stand out to employers; create or polish up your resume with our free CV maker.
FAQs about how to answer salary expectations
What should I put for salary expectations?
What are salary expectations?
Why do recruiters ask for salary expectations?
That entirely depends on the role you’re applying for. Do some research on the industry-standard salary for the position, and ask any colleagues or people in your network. Then, you’ll have a good idea of how you should answer your salary expectations.
You’ll often be asked in an interview what your salary expectations are, which just means how much you think you should be paid. Base this answer on your experience, skill set, and how much the position pays on average in your region.
Recruiters ask for salary expectations to see if you can fit into their budget and to get an idea of how you view your worth. It’s important to note that it’s illegal for employers to ask about your current salary; they should only ask what your salary expectations are.
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