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What are your salary expectations?

Salary negotiations are a sensitive and complex issue. If possible, try to avoid discussing the salary in the first interview. However, if the issue is raised by the interviewer, prepare yourself to respond accordingly.


Salary Expectations - The Don'ts

Prior to elaborating the mistakes you should avoid, let us use our interview video guide as a way of stepping into the interview environment.


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"salary expectations are not my concern"

Most interviewees face a dilemma; what salary should I ask for, that is not too high, not too low and yet acceptable for all sides? Some would try to avoid this question by stating that the salary is not the important issue in the job, 'it's the job itself that is important' they would argue. In most cases, this is simply not true, even if the salary is in fact not the most important factor in your job application it is probably a consideration – and indeed it should be.

Therefore, trying to create an impression that the salary does not concern you actually is counter productive. It indicates that you have trouble coping with the question and may even insinuate that you under value your self or have low self esteem. Some interviewees will quote a figure that is low, concerned that if they quote a high figure it may compromise their chances of success. This tactic achieves the same result; it suggests that you under value your self.

"I should quote a high salary figure"

Some interviewees may quote a very high figure thinking that if they do so it shows that they value themselves and perhaps may impress the interviewer. This too, will achieve a negative result. If you aim too high the interviewer may conclude that the disparity between what the employer can offer and your expectation is excessive and in fact there is no point making an offer.

Moreover, the interviewer may conclude that your expectations are unrealistic for the job description.


Salary Expectations - The Do's


In the following scene, the interviewee has made a choice and presented a salary expectation that is suitable to his sector and global location.

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Salary expectations should be built upon five factors


  1. The salary you earned in your last position.

  2. The salary standards in the industry.

  3. The current market situation – it's all a question of supply and demand. If demand is currently high in your profession, you can suggest a higher salary and offer a tougher bargain. If the opposite is true you may have to compromise.
  4. Your work experience and qualifications / credentials – the more experience and / or qualifications you have the more your services are 'worth' to the employer (in some professions the work experience is more important than the credentials; in other professions it's the other way around and yet in others it may be a combination of both).
  5. The salary you aim for.

Ask for what you deserve

Do not assume that employers will always prefer an applicant that has lower salary expectations.
On the contrary, if you managed to impress the employer, they are likely to seriously consider hiring you despite the fact that your salary expectation may be higher than a fellow candidate. Hence, making a good impression in the interview subsequently elevates your salary negotiation point.

If you are still unsure, try to deflect the question by inquiring the interviewer what they are offering. Alternatively, rather than quoting a figure present a range.


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Salary Expectations - when to raise the question


The salary negotiations are always a complex and delicate matter; consequently it is wise to postpone it to the crucial meeting or point in the interview after most other issues have been dealt with. If you have more than one interview, then use the first interview as an initial platform to make the right impression. After you have made a positive impression your start-off point for negotiation will be favourable; a potential employer is more likely to view your salary request positively at that stage.

Looking for average salary data for a certain position?  Click here.


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