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How To Answer “What Are Your Salary Expectations?”

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated 21 Apr 2021
|4 min read

Talking about money can be awkward at most times but it’s an important conversation to have when you’re applying for a new job. Failing to mention it during the application and interview stages could lead you to be offered a job where the salary doesn’t reflect your skills and experience.  

But, being too forward about the salary and the employer may feel that you’re only interested in the money and nothing else. Striking the right balance is vital, so here we cover when the best time is to talk about salary expectations, how to approach it and also what to do if the salary offered doesn’t match what you’re looking for. 

How to determine your desired salary

Being asked what your salary expectation is, is a common interview question, so you should have a figure in mind. But, how do you come to this? Research! 

Visit Glassdoor’s salary checker to see what the industry average is for the area you live or work in. 

Check out advertised vacancies that are similar to the job you’re applying for to see what salary is on offer. Speak to any professional organisations you’re a member of to see if they can offer some guidance.  Also, speak to colleagues or friends who are in similar roles to see what they think you should be being paid. 

When to mention your salary expectations? 

There are numerous points throughout the application process that you could be asked what your salary expectation is; when forwarding your CV or submitting an application form, during an initial phone screening or during the interview itself. 

Be prepared to bring up the subject of the salary, particularly if it isn’t mentioned on the job description or if the recruiter or employer isn’t forthcoming with it. You could politely ask  “What is the salary on offer for this job?” or, “Do you have a salary in mind for this job?”

How to answer interview questions about salary expectations 

What is your salary expectation?” or “What salary are you looking for?” is a common interview question. 

Here are some examples of answers you could use in response:

I’m looking for a salary between £40,000 to £43,000. Taking into account my number of years of experience and skill set, I think this is a fair salary range.” 

Firstly, thank you for taking the time to discuss the benefits package that comes with this job. Taking into consideration my vast sales experience and the value that this will add to your company, I’m looking for a salary that pays approximately £50,000 per year. How does that sound to you?”

The industry average for a job of this type is around £45,000. Given my experience, qualifications and skills, I’m looking for a role that pays around the same.” 

Thank you for asking. While I’m certainly flexible, I’m looking at jobs that are paying a salary of around £50,000. Is this similar to what you’re offering?” 

Why do employers ask about my salary expectations? 

The reason employers ask about salary expectations is that it helps them determine if you’re a suitable candidate. 

If you’re looking for a salary that’s significantly higher than what they can pay, you may be too senior for the role. This also works the other way as well; asking for a much lower salary and you may be too junior for the role or you may be undervaluing your skills and experience. 

What to do if the salary on offer doesn’t meet your expectation? 

If the salary they’re offering is lower than what you’re looking for, then you have some options:

  1. You could ask what non-salary items they can provide to make the job offer more appealing. For example, this could include flexible working, paid volunteering days or private health insurance or gym membership. 
  2. If you love the job and the company and you don’t want to miss out on the opportunity of working for them you could decide to accept the lower salary. 
  3. You could negotiate for a higher salary. This countermove has to be handled delicately as the company may refuse to budge on the salary. Handled correctly, though, and you could end up working for a company you like and being paid a salary that is above the industry average. 

Summary of tips for communicating your salary expectations 

Being open and honest about your desired salary gives you and the employer the opportunity to see if you’re both on the same page about salary and to see if you’re a good match for each other. 

To communicate your salary expectations professionally:

  1. Do your research so you understand what the industry average is for someone with your skills and experience.
  2. Be prepared to start a conversation about salary if the employer / recruiter doesn’t mention it.
  3. When asked what salary you’re looking for, be confident with your answer.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for extra - either as non-salary perks or through negotiation for a higher salary.