How To Answer: What Are Your Salary Expectations?
Rene Cheng
July 20th, 2021
How To Answer: What Are Your Salary Expectations?
Salaries. It could be awkward at times when the recruiter asks you, “What are your salary expectations?” You might think to yourself, “I don’t want to sound greedy with my salary expectations, yet I don’t want to be underpaid based on my experiences and qualifications.” There might also be times when you respond out of panic because you know you may be disqualified for a job if your expectations do not match the company’s expectations. It is common to worry about being asked your salary expectations at the interview stage, especially considering other financial responsibilities, like the cost of living, car insurance, and so forth. However, with research carried out in advance, job seekers could respond to this question with confidence and ultimately lead to a “win-win” outcome. Here are some steps you should take to answer the “right and fit” answer to “What Are Your Salary Expectations?” and talk about structuring your answer professionally. 
Research The Position & The Company 
Research a company
Researching about the company is undoubtedly required before an interview; however, job seekers should try to explore further by understanding similar job descriptions in the area. This will be a better indicator of what you should be earning as national averages based on the responsibilities to the same role. 

Andrew Fennell, the Director at StandOutCV, says that job seekers could ask for more details about the role and company with the recruiter before discussing pay. Asking more information about the position may reveal responsibilities you haven’t taken into account through your research. You may justify your salary expectations through the details and allow you to have an informative conversation with the recruiter. 

Resources like Glassdoor, Payscale, and JobSeer could be helpful to find salary information for job positions and provide an average figure based on years of experience and location. In JobSeer, you could not only find out the expected salary range based on the position, location, and company to help you better craft the salary expectation response, but you could also find out how well your qualifications align with the given job description. 
Be Honest & Don’t Lie About Your Abilities
When it comes to being asked about your expected based salary, Ken Olling, the Co-Founder at MELD, suggests all job seekers should always tell the truth and never exaggerate experiences and training. The truth eventually comes out through various sources like reference checks, skills exams, or even performance in the new position. Suppose the new employer found out the candidate lied about statistics and experiences. In that case, the candidate may lose the employment offer even if the qualifications and experience levels align with the position.  

In addition to being honest in your current pay and experiences, it is always best to frame the response around the data and adjustments based on the unique circumstances. Karl Rinderknecht, the COO & Co-Founder at Whoco, suggests approaching the question as a discussion. As a potential employee, discuss what you think a reasonable salary range for the job and why. Explain why you think your starting salary is appropriate and fair. Meanwhile, expect the recruiter or the hiring manager to explain their thinking. This discussion allows you and the recruiter to be on the same page about what is “reasonable” regarding salary expectations. 
Be Prepared To Negotiate Professionally
Try to acknowledge your value and experience on why you are the right candidate through your conversation with the recruiter. In addition, mention how you are flexible with the offer, but you are looking to be compensated well at the same time. 
salary negotiation
If you are asked for salary on the first phone call, it would be great to deflect the answer. For example, Krystal Yates at EBR Consulting suggests saying something along the lines of, “I am not familiar enough with the position to give you a good range at this point, could you please tell me what the typical pay range for this position?” 

While not many companies are ready to reveal this information, you may never know unless you ask. If they insist on a number from you, your goal is to provide them a wide range. Here is what you can say, “I can go as low as $X if everything else falls into place, but I’m looking for $Y, with $X being about 10% above your absolute minimum and $Y as your maximum. “ 
The key in responding, “What Are Your Salary Expectations” is not finding yourself losing a negotiation that you have prepared through your research before the call. 

Pro Tip: The main takeaway is that it isn’t about what you want to make but about what the market is paying. 
Be expected that the recruiter might try to bargain or respond with a counter range for your discussion. Sometimes, this part of the conversation might be intimidating. However, use this time to revisit your qualifications, experiences, and how you could be an asset to the company. 

So, the main question is: “How To Craft a Professional Response to the Question, ‘What Are Your Salary Expectations?’”
Alicia Reece, Founder & CEO at The Reece Group, says that crafting a professional response to salary expectations comes into consideration with these factors: 
1.  Ensure that you have a clear understanding of the scope of the role with all responsibilities, expectations, etc.
2.  Do your research to understand the going market salary range for the role & the location.
3. Revisit your compensation elements
4. Get clear about what’s essential from a total compensation package perspective (For example, salary, stock, benefits, etc.)
5. Share your understanding of the role and provide a salary range that aligns with your expectations. Never provide one complex number; instead, allow room for negotiation.

In all responses, try your best to research the position and location to provide yourself the best practice in responding to this question. If you are someone who is juggling between multiple offers, there is another strategy in negotiating. 

Final Advice From Former Recruiters & Career Coaches 
While it might seem that avoiding this sensitive question is the best approach in the interviewing stage, that will complicate the hiring process later on, especially when many other candidates are interviewing for this position. Without a concrete common ground in salary expectations, it may waste time and resources for both the recruiters and candidates. 
Irina Cozma, Career Coach at Irina Cozma Consulting, provides her piece of advice to all job seekers:  

Suppose a candidate was making $50,000 a few jobs ago and now targeting $70,000+. In that case, everybody should know that a given job range is $45,000 - $55,000 to avoid any confusion and misunderstanding. As a former recruiter, Irina says the most elegant solution is to provide a range that will help the recruiter estimate if the candidate is at least in the bulk part with what the company could offer.  

When answering this golden question, it is best to do your intensive research beforehand to avoid confusion, misunderstanding, complication. While the job searching process is exhausting, so is the hiring process for recruiters. Prepare your salary expectation range through your research and find common ground with your potential employer. 

Ready to find out how much you should get paid based on your experiences? Check out JobSeer’s extension to help you with this. 
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