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Questions around minimum salary expectation sound simple, but in reality it can be difficult to structure your answer in a way that convinces the hiring manager that you’re the right person for the role, while also ensuring you’re satisfied with the remuneration on offer.
As is so often the case, the key to answering it lies in understanding the meaning behind the question. Typically, your interviewers will ask about your annual salary expectation for one or more of the following reasons:
Just as there are several potential reasons why interviewers might ask about your annual salary expectation, there are lots of ways to answer the question.
None of these approaches is “better” or “more correct” than the others. At Michael Page, we always recommend planning at least two potential responses. That way, you can assess which answer is most appropriate given the tone of the interview.
With that in mind, here are three ways to answer questions around minimum salary expectation:
Too much specificity can be a bad thing when discussing salary expectations. Rather than giving an exact figure, it is often easier to give a range of potential salaries. Before coming up with a salary range, it’s important to bear two things in mind:
💡 Example answer
“Based on my experience and skill set, I’m looking for a salary of between £30,000 and £35,000. Benefits are definitely important to me as well, so if they were especially attractive, I’d be open to something at the lower end of my salary range.”
Sometimes, the smartest way to offer a minimum salary expectation is to flip the question and put it back on the hiring manager. In other words, when they ask how much money you’re looking for, you ask what range they have in mind for the position.
Assuming they’re able to respond with a figure (or salary range), this gives you two potential follow-ups:
“Rather than giving you a figure myself, I’d be interested to hear what salary range you had in mind for a candidate with all the skills and experience you’re looking for.”
Bear in mind that you don’t need to finalise your minimum salary expectation during the interview. Instead, you can answer the question in a way that opens the door for further negotiation.
This is a sensible approach. After all, the charged atmosphere of an interview isn’t necessarily the best place to make a reasoned decision about something as important as remuneration. If the hiring manager believes you are the best person for the role, and has a broad understanding of the salary you’re looking for, it’s perfectly fine to leave the finer details until a later point.
“Ideally, I am looking for a salary of £45,000 – £50,000 per year. However, I’m potentially open to discussing this further based on the benefits and bonuses you’re prepared to offer.”
Got a big job interview on the horizon? Don’t leave your preparation to chance. Explore the vast catalogue of job interview tips in our career advice content hub, where you’ll find guidance on everything from identifying your strengths and weaknesses to explaining where you see yourself in five years’ time.
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