“What are your earnings expectations” …*awkward silence*…
This interview question is uncomfortable for many candidates. You don’t want to put yourself in a poor position when it comes to negotiation later on in the process, but you don’t want to price yourself too high and put yourself out of the running. What are interviewers looking for when they ask this question?
This blog will aim to answer this question and help you determine an appropriate answer to the ‘earnings expectations’ interview question. Given the various factors and complexities surrounding executive compensation, the suggestions in this blog will focus primarily on entry- and mid-level positions.
So… what are interviewers looking for when they ask this question? Interviewers want to understand if your expectations align with the role. They ask this question because they don’t want to waste your time doing interviews, testing, etc., only to determine during the negotiation stage that you aren’t interested or a fit for the role because of the compensation level.
Keep the following things in mind to help you determine an appropriate salary figure or range to provide an interviewer:
- Your current salary level. Your current earnings will often provide a good benchmark for interview questions about salary. Disclosing this information will give the interviewer an idea about what your minimum expectations may be however different organizations, industries and roles will play a factor in how your compensation level compares.
- The position. Sometimes your current salary level may not align with the position that you are applying for. For example, there are times when a candidate may decide to take a step back in their career or move to a different industry and this may require being open to a lower salary range. While employers will certainly consider an individual’s previous experience, if your current salary is far higher than the market range for a position, disclosing it without the mention of flexibility may put you out of the running. Consider the position you are applying for and tailor your expectations accordingly or find out the range first so that you can confirm whether the range is acceptable.
- The market range. Look up the position on payscale.com for general market information or use salary data that is readily available online from organizations like Robert Half. Know that the data comes from across Canada and may not be entirely representative of the Manitoba marketplace so keep this information in mind, but don’t base your range solely upon the numbers provided.
- The posting salary range. If the job posting offers a range, ensure that at least part of your range aligns with the range provided. Your expectations may reach beyond the range, but make sure that they are within reason to avoid being ruled out for the opportunity. For example, if the salary range is $30,000 – $40,000, it may be justifiable to state that your range is $35,000 – $45,000; however, it is unreasonable for your range to be $50,000 – $65,000.
- Your personal budget. Know what you need to meet your personal budget, but be open-minded. Consider the total compensation package, including benefits, bonuses, phone or vehicle allowances, location, and other perks. Acknowledge that sometimes it may be worth sacrificing a higher salary to work in a job that you are passionate about for an organization in which you are a great fit!
Overall, it is important to be flexible and explain any context surrounding your earnings expectations that may be applicable. There are times when a company’s salary range can adjust to attract a stellar candidate while other times they may be tied by a collective agreement or other internal salary ranges. Consider all of the above factors to develop a reasonable salary range that you are comfortable providing in interviews that will keep you in the running for the position you are pursuing.
Rachel Poppe is an HR Generalist with Acuity HR Solutions and assists in supporting the recruitment function. For more information about Rachel or Acuity, visit www.acuityhr.ca