Q. What answer do HR people really and truly expect when they ask, ‘how much do you expect to earn’? If I quote something too low, will the HR people still give me what they had budgeted for?
Though dreaded by many candidates, this is a very fair question to be asked during an interview and it is equally as important as all others.
It is not about a right or wrong answer, but rather a final opportunity to convince the interviewer that you are the best fit to the role, whatever the cost.
But that said, let me give you some ideas on how to exchange your skills and competencies for the right financial value instead of giving the most common answer ‘I am happy to discuss your offer’.
Do your homework and get some salary benchmark on the going rate for the role within the market. Ask around, do some research, look for past surveys, talk to friends or colleagues in similar roles and get some idea of what other employers pay to avoid underselling yourself.
Use this information to link to your competencies and experience to demonstrate justification- “as I bring on-board key expertise, knowledge and experience, I would expect a salary of this much, which is well within the market range for the role”, or “the market rate for this role is this and I would be keen to discuss an offer close to it”.
Remember that every new job presents in most cases a higher responsibility and is likely to demand more of your competencies and hence should be compensated well.
Linking expected salary to your budget is a common mistake to avoid. Some candidates reason that “if I get a 20% increase on my cur-rent salary, it will be sufficient to cover my financial needs” only to land on the job and realise that others are earning far much higher for similar work.
Although it is seems safe to be modest and instead of stating your expectations you prefer to discuss an offer, you will be at the mercy of your potential employer.
You need to understand that many employers have salary ranges that have a minimum, mid and maximum salary and it would be easier if they stated the offer salary in the adverts.
Two outcomes are likely, if you quote too low but are just at the entry point of your job’s grade, you are likely to be placed at the start of your grade. If you ask for a salary outside the range and your interviewer is convinced you are the best, they are likely to go out of their way to meet your demands.
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