How to handle the salary expectation question at interview?
This can sometimes be an uncomfortable question for candidates to handle but there are some simple and effective ways to manage the salary expectation question.
First Step: Listen to your Recruiter!
As Specialist Consultants we have targeted conversations with many candidates on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. We know our market and therefore we know what is a reasonable expectation to set based on what our clients expect to pay for a certain skill-set. As specialist consultant’s it is our duty of care to ensure that we align your expectations from the moment that you engage with us. We do not operate in a “lip-service” environment as we are professional and in some instances that result in losing you as a candidate in an already candidate short market.
As a Specialist in my field of Construction Management I often speak to ex-pats moving back to Australia, many with predated salary expectations in mind. It is my responsibility to explain from the outset that these expectations are often inflated and give an accurate update on the current market. Many candidates are transitioning from an industry with higher than average salaries and need to review their expectations to remain competitive to future employers in a new sector.
Second Step: Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
When your recruiter has secured you an interview, take some time to go through the position, research the company, ensure that you are familiar with the interview process and salary on offer for that particular role. If the information is not offered up to you, find out exactly what has been said between the recruiter and the client and use the opportunity to gauge what the company culture is like, what they look for in successful candidates and why the position is available.
Professional recruiters should revisit the salary conversation every time they speak to you. Perspective employers do have a budget for positions and very often rely on recruiters to gauge what the role is worth compared to their competitors in the current market. If your recruiter has assured you that the salary on offer is in line with what the market is paying, you should trust them and show your commitment by attending the interview based on that salary only.
Third Step: Action!
If it’s going to be broached, the question around salary expectations is generally asked towards the end of the interview and in many people’s opinion, is a positive indicator that often shows the employer is interested. By this point you should have learned more about the company, their direction and started picturing yourself working there. You should feel relaxed, have all the answers from your recruiter, armed with market knowledge and the employer’s budget expectations. Once the question is asked:
- Be confident, concise and keep eye contact
- Answer only in accordance with the salary information you have been given
Many candidates fail at this final hurdle by inflating their salary expectations and therefore self-eliminating themselves from the running. Not only do you risk your chances of securing a second interview, or at best a job offer, but you are making your recruiter look unprofessional and which will do a great deal of harm to your own personal brand. Like you, Recruiters are professionals in their chosen field and therefore if you are not interested in the salary on offer from that company, say so from the outset and do not attend an interview under any circumstances. The market has changed; gone are the days whereby you can get in front of people with a view to “negotiating-up” once they have seen you. Clients have a budget and Specialist recruiters such as myself know our markets, there are no grey-areas and relationships are transparent from the outset. Make sure you have the same relationship with your recruiter and you can be confident entering into any salary conversation in the future.