What to Say When an Interviewer Asks About Your Salary Expectations

Many technology professionals will tell you that the worst question they’re asked during the interview has nothing to do with their stack or experience. It’s the dreaded, “What are your salary expectations for the job?” If you haven’t prepared for this question, you may blow it. Make no mistake, it’s a pivotal question in the interview process. After all, your offer letter may be based on it. Here’s how to answer the question in the best possible way.

How To Answer Salary Questions in the Interview

The salary question is one that could disqualify you for the job. If you address it early on, you end up not wasting time on a job you can’t afford to take. But at some point, we guarantee the money issue will come up again if you know the role has a range that fits what you’re looking to do. 

Many jobs these days list salaries right in the ad. This keeps everyone from wasting their time. If the information isn’t listed, then you should ask about it when you speak with the recruiter. Today, creating salary transparency from the onset of the hiring process is preferable to the alternative. However, not all employers follow these rules.

Now, let’s remind you that you are a technologist and, depending on your skills, you have options. This should give you some confidence when talking with a recruiter about your salary expectations. Keep in mind, you may be asked two questions:

  • What is your current salary?
  • What are your salary expectations?

These two questions are quite different. In fact, some cities and states have made it illegal for organizations to ask you the first question. Answering the first question is easy, if it’s asked. The second question takes some preparation.

Some interviews cannot progress until you share your salary expectations. Keep that in mind. You can prepare for the question by first, of course, looking at your budget and how much money it would take to entice you away from your current role. But that’s not all. You should be well aware of what the average salaries are for similar positions. There are many websites devoted to salary research, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to Glassdoor. You can even talk directly with your network if you know other people working in your field. 

This process of research and reflection will help you move toward an answer to the question, “What are your salary expectations?” However, we recommend that you also leave some room for negotiation even as you answer the question as honestly as you can. A good answer is something like, “Well, I’m open to negotiation, but I won’t be able to accept a role for less than X.” This gives you some wiggle room while still giving the interviewer what they need to move forward. 

Another tip is to always let the recruiter know that you’re interviewing with other companies, if you are. This is a subtle trick that can push the door open just a little further down the road during the negotiation process.

The Custom Group of Companies is here to help you negotiate with potential employers. We work with candidates just like you in the tech field to represent them to top employers. We’re here to help. Call on us to find out how.

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