What Salary Would You Like?
You can expect to be asked about your salary expectations, usually towards the end of an interview. You can try to dodge the question "What are you offering" but it rarely works. The company know their salary criteria and generally you don't - unless it's a role in your current company - so it is an unfair question to ask but they do. So how do we answer? Well let's try to categorise the situation so we can simplify your answer choice.
The easiest is when the job is advertised with salary information
It is more difficult when it says Up to £xxK depending on experience
It is most difficult when No salary is given or it says Highly Competitive
The job is advertised with salary information- such as £20,000 to £ 25,000 depending on experience. Ok you want the top but how do you meet the experience criteria?
Remember this is a negotiation so allow space for it. If you nearly meet all the criteria then tell them so, remind them of their advert and go for the top.
"Your advert offered £25,000 for an experienced candidate; I believe I meet your requirements and would want that figure."
They might come back and dispute your view, so ask them how you fall below their needs? Be prepared to politely argue and back yourself in the discussion. They might say we can hire another candidate for less, your reply is:
"I have no knowledge of the skills of the other candidates I only know I fully meet what you requested and what I feel I am worth to you."
They might say - would you accept an offer if it was less than this? Remember never turn down a job until you have the formal offer - so hedge and be pleasant. "I have been impressed by what I've seen of the company and would give careful consideration to an offer once I receive it."
If you want to be a little stronger you could after the question- would you accept an offer if it was less than this - say "What salary are you offering" and establish what the gap is and then discuss it.
What if you fall short of the experience requirements? Be honest and say so and amend the salary accordingly - but still sell yourself.
"You offered up to £25,000 but I realise I am still gaining experience and would grow in the job so I would think £24,000 is about right"
Remember once you have an offer in writing you have more power and control. You can then be sure you are the preferred candidate and can go back and negotiate for more within the advertised range. There are more tips on salary negotiation later.
Up to £xxK depending on experience
When only a top figure is given it is more difficult to pitch as often these figures are there to lure good people into applying only to find reluctance to offer that salary on appointment. How should you evaluate the situation?
Firstly you know your industry sector so if the Up to is much more than you would expect be wary unless the company is known for paying top level salaries and is a leader in its field. If it isn't one of them, this is one case where establishing a likely salary range in the interview is important.
Establishing the range. You know your industry so using your knowledge estimate what this job would normally receive and add 10%. If you don't have data use the data on this site or search the Internet job boards for similar job titles and look at the range to conclude a reasonable salary level.
When the question arises in the interview, use the techniques above again taking into account your experience. Use their advertised figure and watch for their reaction. If they do not comment ask for confirmation that for someone with your experience they would be prepared to pay a salary around the figure you mentioned.
No salary is given or it says Highly Competitive
If the salary was highly competitive then they would want the best applicants and one sure way to get them is to offer a good salary. So when it says highly competitive be prepared to be disappointed. However you still need to go into the interview armed with your answer.
Like above establish the likely range. You know your industry so using your knowledge estimate what this job would normally receive and add 10%. If you don't have data use the data on this site or search the Internet job boards for similar job titles and look at the range to conclude a reasonable salary level.
If you find the salaries are from £45k to £55k for example then you have some data to use. When asked the salary question pitch in at £60k if you meet the experience requested. You might word it as follows:
"You advertised the job as having a Highly Competitive salary and as you would expect I've looked at the salary surveys and expect you to offering around £60,000 (pause) and I would be happy with that offer."
If they query your proposal ask them what they see as Highly Competitive and take the discussion from there. Make a judgement on their salary response - if it is acceptable then leave the discussion for when you have the offer (see Salary negotiation link), if it isn't back up your assertion by referring to your data.
It is always a balance between having a friendly discussion on salary and pricing / arguing yourself out of the job. However there is no point in wasting your time at a second or further interview if there is a wide gap between you and them.