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How to Answer ‘What Are Your Salary Expectations?’

If you’re new to the workforce or seeking your first full-time gig, the question ‘What are your salary expectations?’ can be challenging to answer.

For many new job seekers, the challenge is striking a balance between not wanting to undervalue themselves and not wanting to appear ‘overconfident’.

So, how DO you answer this question?

Keep reading to learn why employers ask this question and Findex’s top tips for answering it like a true professional!

Why Do Interviewers Ask this Question?

Employers ask this question as the response will demonstrate the applicant’s knowledge about the industry they’re trying to enter. It also shows their understanding of an entry-level employee’s expected skills and capabilities.

When you’re new to the workforce, it can sometimes feel like employers are trying to catch you out. And perhaps even trying to get away with paying you less than they should! Rest assured, this is rarely the case, and policies are in place to ensure you get a fair wage.

In some situations, employers ask this question as they might be willing to negotiate for top talent. It also allows them to consider resourcing requirements in the hiring process.

What to Consider When Providing Your Salary Expectations

Some roles will typically have set salaries and progression structures. For entry roles like apprenticeships or in industries like hospitality and retail this is usually the case.

This question might arise if you’re applying for more professional opportunities, such as graduate-level roles.

Fearful that you’ll give an answer that’s aiming far too high or way too low? Follow these tips, and you won’t have to fret:

Do Your Research

Thanks to websites such as Seek, Indeed, Glassdoor and LinkedIn, obtaining salary information is no longer an elusive game! Use these tools to drill down similar entry-level roles hiring in your industry and city of residence to get a picture of a typical salary. Coming to the interview with insights into the market rate for your position demonstrates pragmatism and that you think realistically.

Good to Know: If you’re applying for a formal entry-level graduate program, the salary will likely be fixed as per the advertised amount and often not open to negotiation. Instead, you could look to understand how your pay will be adjusted as you grow in experience and skills.

Propose a Salary Bracket

Take your research further by identifying the minimum and maximum salaries for the role (or similar) you’re applying for. This creates wriggle room for negotiation, as you can draw on any experience, including study, to demonstrate why you have the skills to deserve a higher salary within the given range.

Check Out this Example: “Given the industry standard range of $62,000 to $70,000 for an entry-level role in this field, and in line with current experience of this role, my salary expectation sits at $65,000 plus super.”

Don’t Undervalue Yourself

Never go into the interview with a salary expectation much lower than the industry average for a similar entry-level role out of fear that you don’t have the right or enough experience. This is a guaranteed way to throw the interview panel into doubt about your skills. If your worry is appearing cocky, know that as long as you have the data to back up your claims, you won’t come across as such – instead, employers will respect that you know your worth.

Consider Other Factors

Ask about training and any benefits that will help your career development and higher earning potential in the future. Before accepting any job offer, consider if what the company is offering is worth the expected salary and will be enough to support you financially and developmentally in your career.

Put Your Best (Salary) Foot Forward!

The question ‘What are your salary expectations?’ shouldn’t be scary, as long as you come prepared and demonstrate your research.

With your experience and industry research to back you up, be confident you can present a reasonable salary expectation at your interview.

Remember, a well-thought-out response will impress the interview panel and present you as someone who knows their worth and knows their skills would be an asset to the company.

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