“What are your salary expectations?”
Answering interview questions is rarely easy, but when a hiring manager asks a job candidate what their salary expectations are, what ensues can be described as a mountain of additional pressure.
While it’s not easy to negotiate salaries, it is easier to get the salary you want if you can negotiate it before starting a new job, rather than pleading for a raise in the future. At the same time, job candidates may worry that suggesting a salary that’s too high may take them out of the running.
So, how should job candidates answer salary questions?
The following resources can help jobseekers and career practitioners successfully navigate compensation discussions that take place during the interview process.
Articles to help candidates address the “salary expectations” question in an interview
In this article designed to help candidates negotiate a salary they deserve, Austin Belcak, the founder of Cultivated Culture, is inspired by his own experience with salary negotiation. He started out receiving salaries based on very little or no negotiation, and then managed to increase his salary with confidence by the time he got his third job. To help other job candidates negotiate their preferred salary, he shares his tips in this article organized in the following three parts:
- Part 1: Why You Always Need To Negotiate Your Salary & Benefits
- Part 2: Salary Negotiation Starts Early In The Interview Process
- Part 3: A Step-by-Step Guide To Negotiating A Salary & Benefits Package You Deserve
While most articles explore what to say to help negotiate a desired salary, this article helps job candidates by drawing their attention to nine things not to say, and why.
In this article, Eileen Chadnick – principal of Big Cheese Coaching – provides direct, clear and actionable tips for answering the “salary expectations” question during an interview. She explains why an interviewer may be asking this question, and how you can shape your response so that you not only answer the question, but also demonstrate that you’re an excellent choice for the job.
This article, written by interview coach and Big Interview co-founder Pamela Skillings, helps job candidates tackle the “What are your salary expectations?” question from multiple angles. The article explores:
- Why the question is asked
- Two forms the question might take
- Four problems with revealing salary expectation too early in the interview
- Tactics to delay answering the salary question
- Tips for researching reasonable salary ranges based on the job position, company size, location and experience level
- How to answer “What are you making now?”
- Tips for salary negotiation
Written as though Mike Simpson, co-founder and CEO of TheInterviewGuys.com, is talking directly to you – and with a lot of understanding for what job candidates are going through – this article emphasizes helping job candidates boost their confidence to a healthy level that will help them negotiate their desired salary. Simpson also offers detailed tips on not only how to negotiate your ideal salary but also at what point in the interview process, with tips designed specifically for multi-step interviews and “one-shot” interviews.
This article explores the following aspects of answering salary-based interview questions:
- The difference between questions about salary history versus salary expectations (in some places, it is illegal to ask about salary history)
- Tactics for delaying and deflecting answering the question
- Tips for answering the question directly
- Tips to help determine a reasonable salary, as well as compensation and non-compensation factors that might influence the way you perceive salary
- Negotiation tactics for women
In addition to providing tips for strategically answering the salary expectations question, this article provides suggestions for guiding how you approach your answer and shaping how you see your ideal salary.
Resources for salary range research
Described as being “the most comprehensive of its kind in Canada,” the Canadian Nonprofit Sector Salary & Benefits Report provides up-to-date information regarding compensation and benefits packages in Canada’s non-profit sector.
To help with salary research, you can purchase the 2021 report or watch this webinar recording that provides a basic introduction to the report, a review of the executive summary and tips regarding how to interpret data in the report.
Glassdoor [Website and tools]
Glassdoor enables you to search for salary information by location and job type or company name. You can also use its salary calculator to get a free estimate of a customized recommended salary based on your years of experience, job title, location and company, or use Glassdoor’s “analyze offers” tool to analyze offers and receive negotiation tips.
The Government of Canada’s salary tool provides information on low, median and high hourly wages organized by location (province or territory and region). You can search by job type or location (city or postal code).
PayScale provides multiple ways to direct your salary and compensation research. You can search for a customized salary recommendation by inputting your job/title, years in field and location, or conduct a broader search by filtering by job, employer, industry, degree/major subject, certification, skill/specialty, school attended or location.
Additional reading regarding questions about salary history
- Do I have to tell interviewers what my current pay is? (The Globe and Mail)
- Coaching Career Clients on Salary and Other Workplace Negotiations [Book]
- An interview coach says there’s a right way to answer the dreaded salary history question (Quartz)
- Salary History Versus Salary Requirements (Monster.ca)