How to answer what are your salary expectations (Job interview tips from the experts)

Job interviews were never designed to be easy. They’re filled with hurdles that can trip you up at any moment. The interviewer is used to catching candidates off guard, so they are armed with tricks to get you to open up.

The good thing is however, with a little bit of practice, you can be just as well-equipped with a set or carefully prepared answers to clear each level (such as the ones we prepared here for answering ‘What is your greatest weakness?’!).

And for jobs that don’t already state a salary range, ‘What are your salary expectations?’ might be one of the first questions you’re asked, before you even get to speak to the hiring manager.

Either a highly experienced Recruitment Consultant (you can find the very best right here) or Talent Acquisition Specialist will fire that one at you fairly early on in the beginning of the hiring process.

So, what’s the answer? Below, we cover why companies ask this question in the first place and what you should say to keep the doors open!

Why do companies ask what your salary expectations are?

There are a few reasons why companies ask for your salary expectations. Money is the simplest way to quantify your experience. How much value do you bring to this role and what are you expecting as compensation?

Additionally, every business has its own budget and will want to know that a person like you with your skills and experience, falls within that budget.

Asking this question is basically the quickest way to see if you are in or out.

Best answers to, ‘What are your salary expectations?’

Negotiating salary isn’t easy and our best bet is the person you’re speaking to has had a lot of experience already at nailing the right candidate for the right price.

But that’s not to say it’s impossible – here’s how to get the process off to a great start, that keeps the control, firmly in your own hands.

When you’re asked for a figure straight up

There are so many unknowns when you first apply for a job so you want to make sure you keep all of the doors open.

Our recruiters are best placed to guide you through this process ahead of your interview. However, do ensure the recruiter has been fully informed of your current salary and expectations, so they can help your negotiating power during the interview process.

When you’re pushed for a salary range

Some applications will push you for a salary range. As above, you can go the ‘I’m open to offers’ or ‘Negotiable’ path. Or, if you are pushed for an answer the next best approach is to put a range.

This at least demonstrates where you are at, what you are expecting and that you’re flexible too. A good thing to do, however, is to research an appropriate salary range beforehand – we can help you with this so if you’re not sure, you can always give us a call.

Additionally, many job listing sites such as Indeed give a good insight into what is expected for certain roles in your city. Evaluate your experience in this area and put a range that you would be happy with.

It’s ok to give yourself a raise – after all, none of us work for free! However, be careful not to completely price yourself out of their budget. Your expectations and the value you offer need to match.

Back up your answer

Whether you are on the phone or writing an application, it can be worthwhile to support your answer. This might be a comment on your experience and expertise to justify your answer, or it might be that you explain this is the salary you would expect from this particular role but would like to find out more so you can discuss.

Either way, it will give a little more information about what you’re happy or not happy to accept.

When they ask you what you’re currently earning

Don’t feel pressured to answer this question. If your current job doesn’t pay your worth, you don’t want to repeat the same situation in your next job.

Tell them that the job you are applying for is different to your current role so you would like to understand more about the responsibilities and what will be expected of you, so you can assess the appropriate amount of financial compensation.

There’s always room for more

Talking salary upfront is a quick way for the recruiter to assess your abilities and expectations. However, this is just the beginning of the hiring process!

Remember that there will always be some wiggle room and once you have a clearer understanding of the role, you will have some facts to bargain with and will be able to – potentially – up the figure.

In addition, the hiring manager will have a better idea as to your skillset and experience and will equally be able to demonstrate how keen they are for you to join the team with a salary that’s right for the role.

Talk to the experts

Still not sure? Talk to our Recruitment Experts! We see job salaries day-in, day-out. And a quick review of your CV will tell us straight away what sort of figure you should be asking for.

We can also guide you on what qualifications will be best to help get you up to the next level within your field of expertise. You can also find out more in our Interview Preparation Guide which you can download here.

Whatever your career needs, you can talk to us.

Career Advice