What you should know about discussing salary requirements
Hiring managers often ask a few predictable questions during the course of the job interview, regardless of the industry or position. One such question often has to do with salary requirements and history. This is one of the trickier questions to answer, so preparation before the interview is vital. Learn why employers ask about salary, look at a step-by-step guide to answer the question, review example answers, and see tips for earning a high salary.
Why employers ask about salary requirements
This is a very important question for both your potential employers and you. For potential employers, asking about your salary requirements and salary history can help them establish an appropriate salary for you specifically based on your request, job history, skills, and position requirements. For you, it provides the opportunity to share how you value your experience and skills with a monetary figure.
Responding appropriately to this question is of utmost importance, however. If you provide a figure that’s higher than the potential employer anticipated, you might get screened out of consideration. If you offer a figure that’s too low, your potential employer might think you don’t have the appropriate skills or experience to perform the role.
How to answer questions about salary requirements and history
When asked about your salary, either your requirements or history, use these steps to help you craft an effective answer:
- Consider your skills and experience. Answering questions about salary requirements should start before you enter the interview room. List out your skills and experience as they apply to the position. The more years of experience you have and the more specific skills you demonstrate directly from the job posting, the better prepared you’ll be to defend a higher salary ask.
- Research the industry. Look up average salaries online. Many tools can help you establish averages for the industry, location, and job title. Remember, your specific skills and experience can help inform you whether you should ask for more or less than the average.
- Find details from the company. If you can, see if there’s salary data available from the company itself. This may be a challenge to come by, but the more specific data you can get about your potential salary, the better prepared you’ll be to make an initial salary offer and negotiate.
- Use a salary range. When offering your compensation requirements or salary history, consider using a range rather than a specific number. This shows the company that you’re flexible and gives you room to negotiate.
- Think about benefits. Remember, many companies offer benefits like healthcare and paid time off in addition to a salary. Consider what benefits are available as part of the compensation package when coming up with a number or range.
- Offer flexibility. Hedge your response with your flexibility on salary. You don’t want your potential employer to think you’re unwilling to negotiate.
Example answers to salary requirements questions
Here are some example answers to the question, ‘What is your desired salary?’:
Example answer 1
‘Considering my skills and experience in the field in addition to salary averages for the position, I would like to receive between $60,000 and $65,000 for this position. Does this match with what you are considering offering?’
Example answer 2
‘With my previous leadership positions and experience in the industry, I believe I’m a competitive candidate. I would like to receive an annual salary between $71,000 and $77,000, depending on the benefits package. I definitely have some flexibility there.’
Example answer 3
‘In considering my experience in the field and unique skill set, I think a salary between $43,000 and $50,000 would be reasonable. Could you tell me more about the potential benefits included in a compensation package? I could adjust my required salary range depending on the benefits offered.’
Tips for negotiating a higher salary
Usually, after you make your first salary offer, the hiring manager will take that information to their team and come up with a counteroffer. More than likely, this will happen some time after the interview, potentially alongside a job offer. Use these tips to help you negotiate effectively and receive the highest possible salary:
- Start high. Your initial offer should be high — potentially higher than you actually expect to receive. This gives you room to make concessions and still land on a salary you’re comfortable with.
- Prepare examples. You should be ready to defend your salary request with examples of your skills, experience, and qualifications if asked.
- Be flexible. Know that you’re unlikely to get the first number you ask for in your salary negotiation. Ask questions about benefits and their value as you work through the negotiation to land on a number you and your potential employer are both happy with.
- Display confidence. Go into the negotiation with confidence. Employers expect negotiations and want to hear your thoughts on an acceptable compensation package.
- Bring notes. Consider bringing notes with you to the negotiation to help you stay focused. List your starting number, the lowest number you’re willing to accept, any questions you have about the salary package, and potential benefits or perks.
- Stay positive. Avoid adopting a ‘me vs. you’ mentality during the negotiation. Remain positive by reminding yourself that you and the company’s representative are both working towards the same goal — getting you hired with an acceptable salary.
- Offer a specific number. When answering the salary requirement question during your job interview, a salary range is advisable. When you’re at the negotiating table, it’s a better strategy to provide a number, and the more specific the number, the better. For example, instead of asking for $60,000, ask for $61,750. The negotiator might assume you’ve done extensive research to come up with that exact number and be less likely to make a considerably lower offer.