How to answer questions about pay and salary

5 Tips on how to deal with questions of pay and salary

Many job seekers forget to prepare an answer to interview questions about salary, such as “What are your salary expectations?”  An interview can be going wonderfully well until the question of salary and income is raised.  Like it or not, money and salary discussions are often part of an interview.  Being prepared for this question could be the difference between getting the job or not.

So how should you answer this important question?  Here are 5 tips to help you solve this problem:

1. Prepare

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 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. Expectations

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

3. Value-added

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.  Obviously 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. Honesty

When you answer questions about the salary package at your previous job(s) try to be as honest as possible.  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.

5. Practice

Practice makes for a better answer.  Here are a couple of common interview questions about salary together with some advice on the how to respond:

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?” If they do not provide an answer, you could use the research you have done to offer a salary range based on what you understand you are worth in the marketplace.  You could also use your current salary as a base and say that you are looking to improve on this amount.

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.  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.)

Further Information

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4 thoughts on “How to answer questions about pay and salary”

  1. Sometimes there is no harm in finding out from the person who held the job previously (that’s if u know him/her and can easily get in touch with him/her), then structure you answer based on the information that you acquire.

  2. I would like more information on this subject of pay and salary .is it fine to be asked to provide payslip from your previous employer? What other incentives can you ask when you are being interviewed for a sales or marketing job?

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