Help! What do I say when asked about salary during an interview?

Dear Aunty,

Could you provide tips on what to say when you are asked about your salary expectations?

Thank you.

Aunty says,

This is a question that many people struggle with during an interview – it is also a question that is frequently asked so knowing how to answer could save you from losing your chance of getting the job.

Below are my 5 tips on what you need to do in order to answer this question well.  I also provide some sample answers for you to consider.

1. Prepare in advance

As with most things, proper preparation prevents poor performance so make sure you prepare for these questions in advance.  Is there a salary or salary band mentioned in the job advert? Are there any other benefits included as part of a salary bracket?  If no information is provided, do some research into the marketplace.  Look at other jobs on www.gozambiajobs.com and find similar jobs in order to compare the salary information provided. You could also ask for information from friends and family who may be able to help you.

2. Know what you want

Try and work out in advance what salary you would want if offered the job.  Remember to consider benefits such as medical insurance, life insurance, pension, bonus or incentive schemes etc.  Are your salary expectations realistic? What value will you bring to the organisation? How much competition is there for this job? Being informed and realistic about your salary expectation will enable you to be more confident when discussing salary during the interview.

3. Know your own value

It can be useful when asked about salary to highlight some of the value that you can bring to an organisation.  For example, you may be able to explain how you generated sales income of x kwacha or made cost savings of x kwacha in your previous role(s).  Demonstrating the value you can add to an organisation helps a prospective employer determine what salary to offer.  The more you can demonstrate the value you can bring to an organisation the more likely it is that you will be offered the job.

4. Be honest

When you answer questions about the salary package at your previous job(s) be honest.  Remember that your salary can be verified through the references you provide to a prospective employer.  However, do not forget to put a value on the benefits that you received.  You may have received a lower salary in a previous job but it may be that you received additional non-financial benefits such as holidays, training and study. Alternatively you may have received a lower salary as you had less responsibility or have since acquired additional skills that have increased your worth.

5. Sample answers

Below are a couple of common interview questions about salary together with some advice on the how to respond:

a) What salary are you seeking?

  • Consider turning the emphasis onto the employer by asking a question such as, “What is the salary range for similar jobs in your company?”
  • Alternatively, you could use the research you have done to produce an answer such as, “Having researched the salary available for similar roles at other organisations and given my skills and experience, I believe that a salary in the region of X would be appropriate. Is that a similar figure to what you might offer.” 
  • Furthermore, you could use your current salary as a starting point, “Currently I receive a salary in the region of X plus benefits. Given my skills and experience I believe that a salary in the region of X would be appropriate. Would that be appropriate for this role.”

b) What kind of salary are you worth?

  • From the preparation you did, together with the knowledge of your expectations and the value you can add, you can answer with a suitable salary range, “In my previous role I increased sales by X generating income of X. As such, I believe that a salary in the range of X to X would be appropriate. How does this sound to you? 
  • If you are nervous that this salary range could be too high or low you could always add that this is subject to any additional benefits (i.e. working conditions, incentive payments, holidays, pension, insurance etc.).

I hope that this information will be of assistance to you and wish you all the best with your job search,

Aunty

Ps You may also want to check my answer to this letter regarding when to ask about salary:

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