What are you salary expectations

This is arguably the most sensitive question in any interview.

It's also a question where your priorities may conflict with the employer. Answering it requires diplomacy, and a clear idea of what you want.

There are a few considerations.

Your considerations are:

  • Preferred salary level You require a certain salary. You do need to get that salary, or something close to it.
  • Value of package Some packages are extremely valuable. They're worth thousands, and can save you a lot of money in health insurance, etc.
  • Your personal budget The bottom line. This is the minimum requirement, and has to be met.
  • Market rate for your work You're entitled to fair wages. Anything too far below this rate really isn't likely to be worth your while.
  • Quoting a competitive salary to get the job Allowing for the bottom line, you do want the job. You don't want to quote your way out of it.

The employer's considerations are:

  • Getting value for money This is basic business. People are supposed to be employed at a profit. The value of work is more than the salary.
  • Ensuring competitive salary quotes The employer needs to see some options, and who will work for what price. Making salaries negotiable is one sure way of getting good quotes. In a job interview, it's really salary negotiation by other means.
  • The business payroll budget This one of the business bottom lines. Employers aren't masochists, and this budget figure is sensitive.
  • Requirement for skills This is the other bottom line. The business must have skilled people. That's not avoidable.
  • Performance expectations This is the big stick, and the employer uses it in self defence. Non performance isn't really an option. The value of wages must be justified.

When you get this question sprung on you at a job interview, you're at a disadvantage, in several ways.

Your own needs are the real, defining issues.

However, you don't need to commit yourself to an unworkable series of options. There are a few possible approaches, based on your considerations, as defined in those points above.

Introduction

I haven't really decided on a figure, because I'm not sure what you're prepared to offer, and I don't want to pull a figure out of thin air.

This is simple negotiation. You're also being honest, because you don't really want to be producing figures based on a lack of information.

Preferred salary level

I do have a preferred salary level, but I'd be interested to hear what you have to offer.

You're not committed, and you've put the ball in their court.

Value of package

I'd like to know more about the package you're offering.

Same deal, you aren't committing to anything, but you're listening.

Your personal budget

I do have a bottom line to consider, so I'm hoping to do a bit better than that.

Statement of the obvious, but you do know where you draw the line.

Market rate for your work

I'm obviously looking at the market rate at this level.

So is the employer, and this is where the negotiations really start.

Quoting a competitive salary to get the job

After the previous points, you are now in a position to make a basic quote.

I've been looking at a few similar positions, and the bandwidth seems to be ,000 to ,000

Expect an offer of ,000.

Remember, both you and the employer have a common interest, which is your getting the job in the right bracket.

Few employers expect to go much lower than market rates, but they care about that ,000 bandwidth you just quoted them. If they can get you for ,000 less, they're doing themselves a favor, and you're still getting ,000 above the lower end of the market rate.

You answered the question by:

  • Giving credible answers to their questions
  • Giving a plausible quote for the market rate.
  • Not committing yourself to a lower rate. (You could have cost yourself money. If you try to get the job by giving the lowest quote, say ,000, you'd have cost yourself ,000 in one sentence.)

Keep these points in mind.

You don't really have to commit to anything but a salary package which is reasonable and meets your needs.