Most people advise not to discuss salary until after receiving a job offer. But what happens when a hiring manager asks during an interview “What are your salary expectations?” Here are a few tips on how to prepare to answer this question and what to avoid saying.
Do your research
As you look for your next job opportunity, be sure to do some research on the salaries you can expect from the roles you are applying for. Many sites such as Glassdoor, PayScale, and LinkedIn will give you a salary range for the job titles you’re applying to. Double-check that the salary range you’re looking at is for your specific region. A salary range for New York City is going to be very different from the ranges you find for Des Moines, Iowa.
Once you have an idea of the salary ranges, think about where your skills and experiences put you in that range. Are you currently a Financial Analyst applying for a Senior Financial Analyst role? If so, you may be at the lower end of the range. Are you someone with ten years of experience when the job description only asks for five? Then you might be at the high end of the salary range. Understanding what the market pays for the roles that you’re applying for will give you a leg up when talking about salaries with employers.
Highlight your skills
If you’re asked about your salary expectations, you can start by talking about your relevant skills and experiences. You could say something like, “I’ve worked in the finance industry for three years and I’m a pro at excel. As a financial analyst, I’ve built many financial models that have helped drive management decisions and streamlined internal processes.” You can take this opportunity to sell your skills and experiences so that you get the best compensation they can offer. You can conclude with, “Given my skills and experiences, I’d love to discuss a fair compensation after I learn more about the role through the interview process.” This will show that you’re flexible and willing to negotiate, but it also tells your potential employer that you’re looking for a salary that speaks to your skills.
Give a wide range
Sometimes, interviewers will press to get a number out of you with this question during the interview. If that is the case, you can give the interviewer a wide salary range based on your research. Keep in mind to only give numbers that you’ll be happy with and do not lowball yourself. Remember to give yourself a raise. Offering a wide salary range will show that you’re willing to negotiate, and it increases the chances that your range and their range align.
Interviews are stressful and getting the salary expectation question could make it even more stressful. But if you do some research before the interview and remember to highlight your skills, you’ll be able to negotiate the best salary for yourself given your skills and experiences. Good luck!