How to Handle that Interview Question: “What Are Your Salary Expectations?”

“What are your salary expectations?”

This question can be a bit tricky to navigate during a job interview.  Answering it causes a bit of a balancing act between not answering too high, which may put you out of the running for the job, or answering too low, which locks you in at a lower salary than you feel you deserve.

According to Monster’s 2020 State of the Candidate survey of 1,000 full-time and part-time employees in the US, 73% said salary is the most important factor when considering a job offer.  And what is the top reason employees started their last job search?  Yup: they wanted a higher salary.

So, it is best to be prepared when the question comes up.  Our recruiters at MaintenanceBest have offered some tips on how to handle it:

Why Hiring Managers Ask the Salary Question

During an interview, you will typically be asked a question regarding your salary expectations for the position.  It’s a loaded question that will provide lots of insight for the hiring manager.

One reason employers ask it is because they are trying to determine whether your salary requirements align with their budget.  Also, your answer reveals how you see yourself.  Good candidates will know their worth and will share it with confidence.  Lastly, it gives an indication of experience level: higher wage indicates a more senior level whereas a wage on the lower end shows a more inexperienced level.

Tips on Answering

  • First step, that is a MUST, is to research the job position to know your worth!  As Rocky Balboa says, “If you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth”.  Once you’ve looked into the average compensation of the role, and you’ve taken into account your experience level, then you can have productive and informative conversations about salary.  Working with a recruiter, like those at MaintenanceBest, can help you with this piece.  As hiring professionals, who understand the various job positions and companies, they are your best free resource who can help you with every aspect of your job search, including the expected salary range.
  • Be confident with your answer: If you’ve done your research, then state your salary expectations with a confident voice.  Showing confidence will inspire others’ confidence in you and this can only benefit you in your job search.
  • Provide a range and have reasoning to support your answer.  Keep your range somewhat tight, like $5/hr, and justify it with your experience, education and skill level as to why that hourly range is suitable.

What NOT To Do

  • Do not commit yourself to any salary too early in the hiring process/interview.  Delaying this conversation may put you in a better negotiation position later on in the process when you have convinced the interviewer that you are the best candidate for the job
  • Do not provide an exact number. This can indicate that you aren’t open to negotiations.
  • With your salary range, expect the employer to opt for the lower end so make sure your true target number is as close to your bottom number in the range as possible.  If after your research, you feel you should be making $28/hr, then don’t provide a range that’s $23-$28.
  • Do not be the first to bring up the topic of salary.

Example Answers to Salary Questions

When asked what your salary expectations are, here are few examples on how to respond:

Example 1: Deflect the question until later in the interview

  • “Before I answer, I’d like to learn more about the role and the company so I can give you a more accurate salary expectation.”

Example 2: Turn the question on them

  • “That’s a great question – it would be helpful if you could share what the range is for this role.”

Example 3: Shows flexibility and reasoning

  • “While I’m certainly flexible, I am looking to receive $30-$35/hour.  Due to my skill set and experience level, I feel that this is a comfortable and appropriate range for my work.”

If you need more guidance with handling the interview questions, or any other aspect of the job searching and hiring process, be sure to reach out to our team at MaintenanceBest.  Our local recruiters are experts in this field and can provide helpful insight to make the process faster and smoother so you can get the perfect job.  Call us today at 623-777-0701!


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