If there’s one interview question that’s sure to make job candidates squirm, it’s “what are your salary expectations?” You probably remember the times you’ve been asked this question. No doubt it left you for a loss of words once or twice.
Let’s face it – discussing money with perfect strangers can be just plain awkward. In particular, many job seekers feel embarrassed about making their salary expectations known to potential employers. As uncomfortable as it can be, it is necessary to be clear about what you expect to be paid. An ambiguous answer to the salary-expectations question can result in a salary offer that you can’t live on. On the other hand, an overambitious answer can signal arrogance to an employer, which is never a good thing. The right answer is somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.
The Best Answer to Questions About Salary Expectations
The best answer to the question, “What are your salary expectations?” is one that is honest, researched, and flexible. Let’s take a closer look at each of these characteristics.
Honest — It is absolutely crucial that you are honest about what it is you need financially from a company. This holds true even if you must ask for what you think is outside an organization’s budget. However, don’t shoot too high in your salary request. As Liz Burke wrote, “(Asking for too much money) may not cost you the job, but it can earn you a whole lot more work and responsibility than you’re cut out for.” Safeguard yourself from this scenario by researching what your salary should be before you go in for an interview.
Researched – If you want a prospective employer to take your salary request seriously, research it well before your interview. Start by finding out what others in similar positions are getting paid. Alison Green, writer for US News Money, said, “Unfortunately, salary websites often aren’t as accurate as you need because they generally don’t account for the fact that job titles frequently represent wildly different scopes of responsibility, or vary significantly by type of company or geography. But you can get a far more accurate idea by simply bouncing figures off of other people in your field, checking with professional organizations in your industry or talking with recruiters. Do your research and come up with a range based on what comparable positions pay for your experience level and in your geographic area.”
Flexible – If your answer to “what are your salary expectations” isn’t flexible, it needs some work. If you are determined to get paid a certain salary and won’t consider accepting less, you might miss out on some great jobs. Sure, we all have a specific amount of money we need to earn in order to survive and thrive. But, for some people salary expectations are more a matter of pride than need. Know what you need and want salary-wise, but keep an open mind at the same time.
Any answer to salary-related questions that is honest, researched, and flexible is the right one. How have you answered these questions in the past?
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