How to handle the tough question about salary expectations?

This question is probably one of the trickiest ones. A good sign is if the interviewer is asking you about your salary expectations, this is probably because he is interested in your profile.

You need to be well prepared to give a pertinent and coherent answer. This question may seem easy but it can blow your chances of getting the job in a snap.

To begin with, let’s understand why the interviewer asks you this question. There are two main reasons. The first one is that the recruiter doesn’t want to waste neither his time nor yours. When a company decides to recruit someone for an open position, they always set a salary range for it. If you are already earning more than the maximum they are willing to reach and you don’t want to go below this salary, there is no point in putting you through. This is why the recruiter usually asks you this question when you apply for a job or get head hunted. He needs to know whether your expectations are compatible or not with what the company offers for this role.


If you get a job interview, this topic will be brought up again in a more detailed way. Asking what your salary expectations are is a roundabout way to get a glimpse of your personality. Indeed, your answer will enable the interviewer to know if you are able to evaluate yourself. You need to appreciate your true worth. The number of years’ experience you have, the projects you conducted, the skills and knowledge you have are what makes you special. If you give a salary below the average of what professionals get for the same position, the interviewer will think you don’t have enough experience for the position and that you think you are not skilled enough to do this job. This raises the issue of self-confidence. Keep in mind that an interview is comparable to a sales negotiation. You need to convince the company you are the perfect match for this job. Not believing in yourself is not going to make them want to hire you.
On the other hand, if you give a salary above the average, it can be viewed as a bit pretentious. You have the right to ask for more but be ready to explain why. You need to have good reasons and a solid argumentation. If you think you should get a higher salary, prove it. If you are right and the company wants you they will probably readjust their offer.

As you can see, there is no reason to be anxious. The key is to be honest, confident and above all realistic. Here are a few tips to prepare your answer to this question.


1. Carry out a little investigation

You need to know what the salary range is for this position. There are salaries surveys published every year which provide a clear picture of the market and that you can take as a starting point. Most of them are available on internet and will give you impartial and accurate data. They enable you to have a quick overview of the salaries of people who held the same position are getting.
Be careful! You need to take into consideration the following elements as the salary range may vary depending on these factors:

- The country where the role is located
- The size of the company
- The sector in which the company operates
- Number of years needed for the position
- The responsibilities you would have to handle
- If you would have to manage people and if so how many


2. Ask people around you

Have a chat with your workmates and friends who are currently doing the job you are going to be interviewed for. They might be able to give you precious information and a few tips on how to conduct a successful salary negotiation. They were in your shoes when they had their own job interview so they know what the objections can be and how to overcome them.


3. Know your strengths

Go through your CV and spot the information which will be taken into account in the salary negotiation. That can be previous work experience, skills, knowledge of the sector, languages you master… Be able to emphasize all of them and to explain why they are valuable for the job and the company.

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