How to answer: “What’s your expected salary?”

“What’s your expected salary?” This question can either strengthen or lessen the chances of securing a new position. From the candidates side, they’ll expect their potential employer to match their demands; from the employer’s perspective, if they can’t match the candidates demands, the recruitment process will be cut short. 

This can be an awkward question to answer, because you don’t want to come across as over-demanding, but you also want to ensure you are being offered what you’re worth. Understanding how to answer this question is crucial to your chances or being successful. Discussing salary expectations is nothing new; as both candidate and employer want to achieve the best deal for their respective sides. 

The positive news is that there are various steps you can take to make sure that when discussing salary expectations, you are giving figures that are fair to you and are within the employers budget. Understanding how to research and negotiate will be valuable skills along the way. 

Research the market and Salary Trends 

It’s not uncommon for salary expectations to be in fact one of the first questions your potential employer or recruiter to ask you. This gives them a rough idea of your experience and the  type of positions you will be pursuing. Your interview is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate why you deserve the salary you’re requesting. If you impress your potential interviewer during the interview, you will put yourself in a position where they feel like they must meet your demands and hire you. Despite your salary expectations, this will put you in a strong position. 

It’s a wise move to do some research on the salaries trends in your chosen industry and gauge an accurate idea of the salary range or number you feel you match. With this research, you will be ready to answer “What’s your salary expectations” question. 

If you’re looking for some guidance on the salaries, have a look at our Salary Survey guide. 

Provide a range, not a number

Whilst you are likely to be tempted to suggest an exact salary figure when posed the question: “Do you have a salary bracket in mind?” you may be better off providing a salary range during the initial stages of the interview process. 

Being too eager to get your message across about salary may send out the wrong message to the employer: that you’re only interested in the financial aspect of the position. 

Some positions may ask you to submit your preferred salary when completing an application process; however, some roles can be pretty clear about the salary they are willing to offer. Some positions may say they “offer in the range of £x amount” so by doing your research or speaking to an experienced consultant, you’ll understand more if you’re in a better position to match or negotiate the salary. 

When working through a recruitment agency, advertised roles may not always state the exact salary on offer, instead, they’ll state a range; eg. “from £30,000 - £40,000” or in some cases the exact salary will be stated but your eligibility for the salary will depend on relevant experience.

 Assess the role and responsibilities 

As touched upon earlier, salary expectations will often be dependant on your experience and skillset. During the early stages of the interview, the employer will be aiming to find out as much about you as possible; and it’s your chance to find out about the role and responsibilities. 

As salary is likely to come up, rather than feeling pressured to state your exact salary expectations, why not turn around the question and find out more about the roles and responsibilities before speaking about salary. You could say: 

“I saw from the job advertisement, you are looking for someone to manage content calendar, whilst being involved with day-to-day running of social media platforms – would you be able to elaborate on your expectations? 

“Also, can I ask what your salary expectations are for this position?” 

By asking this, you are showing that you are more focused on the position, it’s duties and potential career growth, before the salary. The employer will respect this. As you’ve asked politely and have demonstrated your eagerness to learn and develop, they are more likely to then share exact salary expectations with you. 

Once you have established how much the employer is willing to offer, this makes the situation much clearer. If their salary evaluation matches your expectations, then that’s great news, if not, make clear your expectations but say you’d like to find out more about the role. 

The reason for that is because if you can demonstrate that you have all the qualities the employer is looking for, they are far more likely negotiate a salary in order to hire top talent. Some roles may come with benefits packages, but package details must be made clear. 

If you find the employer is not willing to negotiate salary, then thank them for their time and pursue other opportunities. 

Is it time to provide a number? 

Towards the later stages of the interview process, you will have likely found out all you need to know about the job. Whether the roles and responsibilities match your expectations, the working conditions – is their flexible working? Have you met the team members? Are there bonuses and perks included in the position? The employer will have established by now the salary range they can offer. Before they can officially offer you the job, you will need to decide on a salary. When they question beckons: “What’s your expected salary?” you must be ready to give an answer. 

Remember all the research and advice you have received during the process. If you’re still unsure about whether the employer can match your salary, you can state a starting salary range and then be open for negotiation. 

A few of the following responses could help you: 

“After reviewing the roles and responsibilities, I believe a starting salary of £X0,000 is a fair evaluation”

“Considering my past experience and current skillset, I am open to discussing salary offers from £X0,000 onwards” 

“I understand the starting salary for this position has been stated in the advert, however, after taking into consideration the job and it’s demanding responsibilities, I believe I have the skills, training and industry expertise to bring value and success to the position. I respect you are working within budget, and I was hoping it would be possible to negotiate to £X0,000 as a starting salary”. 

Remember to keep a positive and polite tone during your negotiations. 

Be honest 

Although you’re searching for the best salary package, it’s important that you remain honest throughout the process. Always be truthful about your previous experience, achievements and educational background. Afterall, there’s no reason for the employer to conduct an interview assessments to see if you can back-up what you say. They can also conduct referral checks to see how past colleagues and employers felt working with you.  

If you are happy with the conditions and your offer, accept the position promptly. Get all the details in writing and make sure everything you have discussed is also part of the offer; including any benefits, perks or working arrangements. Do not risk having any misunderstandings about your agreement.