How to Share Salary Expectations in an Interview

From your initial application to landing a job offer, your interviewer will ask you numerous questions as the company evaluates your qualifications. Salary is an important point for both you and the employer, so you can prepare for the question about salary expectations before the first interview. Planning ahead will help you decide what you should expect for salary and other compensation so you can share this effectively during an interview.

How to discuss salary expectations in an interview

Here are the steps you should follow to share salary expectations in an interview: 

1. First, research a salary range for your job title

From the beginning, you can have a range of salary you are willing to accept. This range might not be the same as that of your current position, but your current range can be one factor in determining your salary expectations for a new job.

You can research salary trends for similar job postings to come up with a reasonable salary range. Other than knowing your current job’s salary range, search for your job title and city. 

2. Secondly, be aware of factors that can impact salary trends

There are a number of other factors that can affect a reasonable salary range, such as your education and experience, the size of the company and its location. For example, a start-up company might not be in a position to offer competitive salaries at first. Some companies may offer a lower base salary but more opportunities for bonuses, advancement or profit sharing. To get a better understanding of company factors, research the company. It is possible the job description may discuss compensation, and if it does, it will help you assess how this company fits into the average. 

3. Next, understand why an appropriate salary expectation is important

Being aware of an appropriate salary range, and where your skills and experience place you on that range, will help make sure you don’t state an unrealistic salary expectation. 

An unrealistically high salary expectation is very unlikely to be met. Instead of offering a lower salary, the employer may simply turn to a candidate with more reasonable expectations. 

Some people may feel it’s a good idea to state a lower salary expectation just to get the job. However, that can go wrong in a couple of ways. For one, the company is aware of your qualifications and what your skills are worth on the job market, so this might be interpreted as a lack of confidence. Secondly, if you indicate a salary amount that is lower than what you’re actually looking for, you may not receive any more than that. While you could earn pay raises in the future, you could find yourself getting a job offer from a company you’d like to work for but at a starting salary below what you should be making. 

While it may be true that some companies are focused on hiring at the lowest salary possible, it’s hard to know ahead of time whether that’s true for the company you’re interviewing with. Some companies prefer to offer competitive salaries as part of earning their employees’ loyalty, making it less likely that those employees will leave for a better opportunity. Ultimately, you are likely to be happier, especially over time, at a company that invests in its employees with a good starting salary. 

4. Then, consider other forms of compensation

Other forms of compensation, besides the base salary, might include the flexibility to work from home, more vacation time, or an excellent retirement plan. Some companies have particularly strong reputations or particularly appealing cultures that might make them desirable workplaces, even at a lower salary. 

Considering how you feel about other forms of compensation allows you more flexibility in salary negotiations. You may find that you value certain things more than salary, such as achieving a better work/life balance. Be sure to mention these alternatives when the topic of salary comes up. For example, if an employer wants to hire you but can’t quite offer your ideal salary, you may want to ask for additional benefits such as more flex time for working at home. 

5. Finally, speak with polite confidence

When discussing salary expectations, speak with polite confidence. Don’t act as though salary is unimportant or speak as though you’re preparing for a conflict. You’ve done your research, so what you’re expecting should be reasonable. You can reference your research by saying something like, ‘Based on my experience and the current market range, I believe $40,000 would be a reasonable starting salary.’