How To Answer “What are Your Salary Expectations” [Video + Transcript]
Hi, everybody, and welcome. I’m Jenn, a career coach at Indeed with over 10 years of experience in career services. Today, I’m going to share some guidance on answering a very important interview question, “What are your salary expectations?” In this video, I’ll provide three strategies for addressing your salary expectations. And if you stick around until the end, I’ll share a bonus tip on how to identify the salary range for a role.
There are two points in the hiring process where employers tend to ask about your salary expectations, during an initial phone screen and during the final interviews. Recruiters may ask this question early on to assess if you’re within the budget that they have for the role and therefore a possible hire. Salary negotiations don’t actually begin until after a formal offer is made. And when you’re asked about your salary expectations prior to an offer, the employer is simply gathering information.
Now, what if an employer asks you about your salary expectations early on and you’d rather not share that information yet? If you choose not to respond because you’re still assessing a reasonable salary for the position or any other reason, it’s OK to let them know that. Since you’re still early on in the hiring process and still learning about the specifics of the job and the duties, just say you prefer to address the salary later.
You can always put the ball back in the recruiter’s court by saying, “I’m aiming to consider the entire compensation package, including insurance, stock options, retirement planning and other benefits that come along with the base salary. What does this role offer?”
Another option is to say, “Before I answer, I’d like to ask a few more questions to get a better idea of what the position entails. That way, I can provide a more realistic expectation.”
While these responses are great to have in your back pocket, if you’re taken off guard by the question, it’s often a good idea to wait to respond to the employer’s question about your salary range rather than asking the question about what they offer. It’s also common for the first-round interviewers to not have access to information about salary. Plus, when you wait to be asked, you have the power to begin the compensation conversation with a salary range you know you feel comfortable with rather than with a range provided by the possible employer.
At some point in the hiring process, there will come a time where you will have to provide your salary expectations. Be ready for this by researching comparable salaries as soon as possible. I’ll explain how to do that at the end of this video.
Strategies for answering “What are your salary expectations?”
Provide a salary range
Once you’ve done the market research to identify a reasonable salary, one strategy I recommend is to provide the employer with a salary range with a difference of $5,000 to $10,000 rather than providing a single number. It’s wise to make sure you’re comfortable receiving the bottom number and to specify that this is your base salary range, not your total compensation.
Another example would be, “I’m looking for a base salary roughly between $90,000 and $95,000 annually. Due to my technical skill set and years of experience, I feel that this is a comfortable and appropriate range for my work and the value I can provide.”
If the salary range was stated in the job listing, you can say something like, “I saw in the posting that the salary range is $70,000 to $85,000. Based on the range provided, I feel that $80,000 is an appropriate starting base salary based on the experience, credentials and industry knowledge I would bring to the role.”
Include an opportunity for negotiation when the time is right
As you might have noticed, I specifically address our annual base salary in these first examples. When considering compensation, it can help to consider other benefits such as vacation days, sign-on bonuses and the opportunity to work remotely in addition to any monetary compensation. It’s wise to always consider these benefits and how their presence or absence can impact your target salary range.
Mention your interests in benefits as part of your response to what are your salary expectations. If your salary is outside or on the higher end of the budget, the employers are then aware that you’re open to discussing elements beyond the base salary that could impact your overall compensation package pending a formal offer from them.
So, if this is something that you’re willing to do, say something like, “I’m seeking a position that pays between $120,000 and $130,000 annually. But should we both determine that I’m the best person for this opportunity, I would be open to exploring how salary, benefits, bonuses, equity, stock options and other opportunities can impact that.”
Remember, it isn’t standard to enter into negotiations prior to an offer. But it can be helpful for employers to have some perspective on your viewpoint regarding compensation prior to the extension of one.
After an employer extends an offer, I recommend expressing gratitude and then opening the lines of communication to discuss the components of your expected compensation more specifically, and then enter a negotiation.
How to Answer “What Are Your Salary Expectations”
Understandably, you might find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the idea of having questions in regards to your salary expectations. You don’t necessarily need to answer this question right away. Let the interviewer know that you would first like to go over the position even though you are interested in discussing salary.
Research the role. Make sure you have a complete grasp of the responsibilities. Your first instinct may be to use an online search engine. This will result in multiple web pages showing you the average salary for your chosen profession. However, some might find this to be overwhelming.
Start by looking into our very own career research page on Zippia. This page will help you explore the job market more efficiently. It offers you the opportunity to find your desired position, what salary is the best suited for it, how to tailor your resume, the skills that would be ideal for this role, and more.
Factor in expenses. Think of cost of living in a location and how much you need to set aside. How much will gas cost? Will you need to buy a car or use public transportation?
You must always remember that location plays a key role, as the old saying goes, “location, location, location.” For example, an anesthesiologist’s average salary from Nevada may be slightly lower than one you can find in New York. This can also be determined by looking at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Choose a salary range. After doing your research on the position and location, pick a range in which you would like the salary to fall. Keep the range tighter, such as $50,000 to $56,000.
Deflect the question. You can always take a moment and delay answering this question until the very end of the interview, or even after the interview. That way, you will have ample time to think about how to answer it while telling them about your skills, qualifications and why you would make an ideal candidate.
Another alternative is to turn the tables and ask the interviewer to share what they have in mind regarding your salary. Once you have a particular number in mind, ask the hiring manager what the company is willing to answer. By doing this, you can take the pressure off you and put it back on them.
Be open to negotiation options. There are other ways to be compensated by an employer. If the salary isn’t exactly what you had in mind, consider other benefits they are offering. This could include health benefits, paid time off/vacation days, relocation costs or even equity in the company.