How to answer the interview question: ‘What is your salary expectation?’

Salary ExpectationsHas this question ever been a challenge for you at your previous interview? Have you encountered a difficult interviewer who wants you to answer this question with a figure? I know this is the second most popular interview question after ‘Tell us about you’. A lot of candidates have always fought not to underpay themselves or over state their expectations which might eventually disqualify them from landing the job.

In answering this question, I will like us to take it one after the other. Imagine you have just been invited for a job interview and you know that out of many questions that will come your way is your salary expectation, then you need to actively prepare for it. I will recommend you start from where you are. What do you presently earn? How do you spend your salary? What percentage goes into transportation, rental, family, education, development, medical, social, spiritual, investment, savings etc.

What is the desired sum you feel is worth your present competence as an expert in your field? You need to be realistic in answering this question. Break it down into transportation to the potential new office, feeding, spiritual and all other you can think of.

Now let’s go to the company where you are being invited for an interview. Will it be possible to source internal information from a potential colleague or your network who is capable of assisting with information on what is obtainable within the company in terms of remuneration. This is a very important task. It will ease your anxiety.

Another aspect of trial is seeking to know what is obtainable within the industry. Most of these organisations carry out salary survey which allows then insight into what competitions are paying and what could be the industry average. With information of this nature you are sure to have a good start in deciding what to table before your interviewers.

You can also explore the various online forums using your anonymous profile in seeking information on pay. Visit these forums and ask members your questions and you might be lucky with reasonable answers.

At the interview when all questions seem to have been asked and then comes the second to the last or final question ‘What will be your salary expectation?’. You will be advised to approach the question as follow:

Make them realize that you are aware that a structured organisation like theirs will have their grade levels and appropriate salary structure (please be mindful of their countenance and facial expression. Once they show they are only interested in a figure sum, then move on to the next line).

‘Having said this’ Make them aware of what you presently earn and clearly state your expectation and why that will be your expectation (reasons should be anchored on your acquired skills, competence and ability to deliver on specifics).

Close by going back to your opener that their offer will be expected. This approach cannot be exhausted. I will like to introduce you to the different kind of organisations we have:

  1. Those who are well structured and are conscious of their industry. Salary for staff is derived from happenings within the industry alongside their capacity to pay.
  2. Those who are not concerned about the industry and will only design an internal pay structure and whoever wants to work for them will receive whatever they are offering.
  3. Those who really don’t have a structure. What you get is a function of your bargaining power.

Bottom-line, going into interview with the intent of not answering the question ‘What is your salary expectation?’ is no longer in vogue.


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