It may sound innocent enough, but the interview question about salary expectations is a loaded one. Talking about money is awkward at the best of times, but in an interview situation it can be particularly tricky.
Ultimately, they want to know if they can afford to employ you but will also be asking this question to gauge how much you’re worth based on the experience you’ve gained. Do some research and prepare your answer before going to the interview, it will demonstrate to your interviewer that you understand your value, but that you are flexible and realistic, with your salary expectation.
At the interview stage, you’re still being pitted against other candidates. The value in having done your research is that you’ll know what to say to avoid being eliminated too early.
Deflection is a good initial strategy – try saying something along the lines of:
“I’m sure the salary you’re offering is in line with the current market. What I’m most interested in is finding a job which is well suited to my skills and experience.”
You can also turn the question back on the interviewers and ask:
“What is the range being offered?”
This is a great answer for demonstrating self-confidence and good negotiation skills and gaining the interviewers’ respect.
But if they persist on trying to squeeze a number out of you, try this tactic:
“My understanding is that £50-60K would be the typical salary for this role.”
This answer doesn’t commit you to a specific number, although you could use it as an opportunity to demonstrate your competitive qualifications or skills by adding:
“Given my experience with….I would be looking to receive something in the range of….”
If you are applying for a job online, you have filled out the whole application and then you are asked ‘what is your expected salary’, it is normal to feel stumped and unsure on what to put.
Sometimes there are multiple choice options with different salary brackets, or sometimes you will be asked to manually type this in yourself. If this field within the application is required (i.e. you have to fill this section in, in order to submit your CV and application), then of course answer this as you see fit.
However if this box is not a required field, we recommend that you leave this section blank. This is something that can be discussed with more flexibility in person further down the line of the interview process. If it is important then the employer can always get back in touch with you to ask the question at a later date!
Just remember that naming a rate doesn’t lock you into accepting it. At the vast majority of companies, you can still negotiate after getting an offer. In fact, negotiating for a bit more might work in your favour, since companies will see that you believe in yourself and have done enough research to know the value of your work.