How to Answer: What Are Your Salary Requirements?

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May 16, 2020
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min read

It can be intimidating to discuss your salary during the interview process. The more prepared you are, the more likely you are to have a successful negotiation. Below you'll find tips to best formulate an answer when it comes to salary requirements.

Prepare your salary requirement before an interview

Before you come up with a salary range, think about why you are looking for a new job. If you are unhappy with your current pay, take some time to consider how much you'd ideally like to get paid. If you're unsure what the going rate is for the positions you're interviewing for, compare salaries on a number of salary information websites.

There are two common situations where you will be asked about your salary requirements.

The initial conversation with human resources or a recruiter

Oftentimes, candidates have initial screening interviews with human resources or a recruiter. These can be phone calls or in-person interviews. This is typically where the salary question will be asked.

Be honest with the interviewer. Let them know what you want to get in terms of salary. You can also say that you are willing to entertain a lower offer depending on other aspects of the job. Unless you are looking for a new job just for a new salary, make it very clear that you are flexible.

Be careful not to be too insistent on a specific number before you understand the full scope of the role. There will be time to negotiate once you get closer to an offer. When that time comes, be sure to negotiate over the phone rather than over email.

Screening email tips

Your first interaction with a potential employer may be over email. Be careful not to undersell yourself.

Don't give firm number that you aren't willing to budge on. Rather, give a salary range you'd like to land in. Make sure you also say that you are flexible and willing to discuss salary options.

5 mistakes to avoid when discussing salary requirements

Discussing your salary requirement can be touchy, depending on when you bring it up. Here are a few tips on things to avoid saying when it comes to discussing compensation.

  • Your current salary: Instead, focus on the value you're bringing to this new position.
  • A single number: A range provides you with more wiggle room.
  • Anything that's dishonest: Getting caught in a lie can cost you the job opportunity.
  • Other company's salarie: Keep it general when discussing what you believe the market rate to be for the position.
  • Not having a number: Saying you don't have a salary requirement could come off as if you're happy to accept any offer.

How to speak about your salary requirements

Discussing money can be uncomfortable, so here are some tips to keep in mind when formulating your answer.

  • Consider your experience level and your current salary.
  • Do research on what salary ranges your industry pays for the role.
  • Decide if you want the job even if the salary is lower than what you were hoping to get.
  • Get career advice from a mentor before discussing an amount.
  • Keep your responses flexible to increase your chances of getting a job offer.
  • If you are switching industries, ask people you trust for help coming up with your salary requirements.

Think about the current state of the market and business in general. If things are trending down, you might find yourself giving up a little more when it comes to salary. If the industry is booming, you could potentially ask for a relatively high figure.

If you are in the process of a move, consider where your job will be located. If your location is changing, your salary expectations may need to be adjusted. Oftentimes employers take cost of living into effect when it comes to salaries.

For example, if you used to work in a major city, your salary was likely higher than someone doing the same job in a small city. You want to get as much data and information as possible before answering a question about your salary.

Final thoughts

While it might be hard to know exactly what the company is willing to pay, there are ways you can get more information. If your first salary question comes from a recruiter, you can ask what the company is willing to pay. It's good to share your honest salary requirements early in the process so you aren't wasting your time or the company's time.

Remember, there is always time for negotiation. Experts say you can get creative when it comes to your salary requirements. Make a list of what is important to you and ask yourself:

  • Is this your dream position that you are willing to lower your price for?
  • If the salary isn't what you were hoping for, does a bonus or commission get you close to the right number?
  • Based on my previous experience, what number is a must for me to leave my current job?
  • Is this job a big opportunity to advance my career regardless of the salary?

Based on your answers to these questions, you will be able to better answer what your salary expectations and requirements are. If you tell a company what you want and they still can't get there, don't be discouraged. Maybe this isn't the right job for you.

Feel free to turn down a job offer if it doesn't work for you and your current life situation. Focus on the bigger picture and you will be better off in the long run.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I determine a reasonable salary range to present when asked about my salary requirements?

To determine a reasonable salary range, research the average salary for your position in your industry and geographical area. Consider your experience, skills, and the value you bring to the company. Factor in your personal financial needs and the market rate for the job. Present a range that is competitive but also leaves room for negotiation.

Is it better to provide a salary range early in the interview process or wait until a job offer is made?

It's generally advisable to avoid discussing salary until the employer brings it up. If pressed early in the interview process, you can provide a broad range based on your research or deflect by expressing your interest in the role and the company. Once a job offer is made, you'll be in a stronger position to negotiate.

How should I respond if my salary requirement is higher than what the employer is prepared to offer?

If your salary requirement is higher, communicate your flexibility and willingness to find a mutually beneficial arrangement. Highlight your qualifications and the value you can add to the company. Be prepared to discuss other forms of compensation, such as benefits or opportunities for professional development, that might offset a lower salary.

Dave Fano

Founder and CEO of Teal, Dave is a serial entrepreneur with 20+ years of experience building products & services to help people leverage technology and achieve more with less.

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