There comes a moment in every job interview where the interviewee is asked that one pivotal question. “What are your salary expectations” might seem like a straightforward question, but the answer can quickly slip through the palm of your hands as you crack under the pressure of the interview.

Understanding what to say, and what not to say, when it comes to your salary expectations is crucial to landing a job offer. Read on for how to prepare for the inevitable question: what are your salary expectations.

Understand your worth

The interviewer is trying to gauge two things: whether they can afford you, and how much you value yourself. The first step in laying down your salary expectations is to find out where you stand. How do your skills, experience and qualifications stack up against the role you’re applying for? Use our handy salary calculator tool to find out whether your expectations are above or below the average for your industry.

Wording is everything

You want the interviewer to understand that you’re flexible, but that you know what you’re worth.

Try these starters:

“With my experience, I would expect to receive a salary in the range of $X to $Y.”

“My salary expectations are flexible and in line with my skills and qualifications.”

Avoid going in with a set salary. Not only will this blow your chances of a fair negotiation, but the employer will be put off if it looks like you’re not willing to budge. Presenting the interviewer with a salary range opens the discussion up for negotiation and puts you in the driver’s seat.

Give yourself a pay rise

Think about what you were earning in your previous role. Now think about what you would consider a fair pay rise, and use that as your low-end starting point in your interview. Now add 15% to 20%, as long as it’s within a rational range for your industry and skill level, and use that as your high point. As long as you can prove it with stats and figures, you deserve it, and it’s good to give yourself more of an incentive to change jobs.

While it might be tempting to aim high, try not to aim further than the company’s salary range. Equally, avoid going too low, or the negotiation might end up even lower and you’ll end up without adequate compensation.

Related: How to ask for a pay rise (and get it!)

Sing your own praises

Who’s going to toot your horn if you won’t? And no, that isn’t a euphemism. If you’ve had great personal results in a past role, note them down. If you played a key role in the successful delivery of a company project, make sure you keep records of the part you played. When it comes time for the inevitable salary question, you’ll be armed with an arsenal of real, factual ammunition with which to prove your worth. You may be great, but simply saying so just doesn’t cut it.


Ready to chat salary expectations with the experts? Our recruitment consultants are standing by to give you the edge you need on your quest for employment. Reach out to us today.

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