Answering The Salary Interview Question – Part 3: Know What You’re Worth

In Part 1 of this series, we focused on defining a job interview and in Part 2 we talked about the importance of stating the right number. In this final part of the series, we will show you the rules of thumb for answering your own question “What is your expected salary?”

While we have shown that stating the right number is much more important, how we deliver the number, or not deliver it, is still a big question.

The short answer for this is: It depends.

salary question know you're worth

Frankly speaking, it’s always different for everyone, depending on their position, their experience, their values and personality, the company culture and the interviewer’s own preferences.

So to help you answer the question for your own specific circumstances, here are several rules of thumb to determine the best answer is:

1.    Research your position’s market value

Whether or not you have a strict policy of never being the one who states the number, coming prepared to an interview is never a disadvantage. That way, when your prospective employer states a range or requires you to give one, you are able to negotiate for a fair compensation.

2.    Know your own industry

That said, not all salary questions can be answered the same way across different industries.

Say for example, you are a computer programmer whose salary formula is based on years of experience and computer language skills. Based on this, you might not have the luxury of not stating your expected salary, as it’s pretty much black and white.

But if for instance, you are a writer/singer/painter/artist whose salary formula is much more subjective, you might be able to hold your card a little bit longer.

3.    What’s your position?

It is important to note that based on your experience and your position on the corporate ladder, you might actually have the privilege of holding your stance on not stating a number.

Look at it this way: A fresh graduate holding his stance on not revealing his expected salary might irritate the employer compared to a manager doing the exact same thing.

In short: Know what you’re worth

All three rules can be summarised into this: You need to know what you’re worth.

Ask yourself what your expected salary really is. Of course, everyone wants to improve on their career and everyone else understands this, including your future employers.

Knowing your worth is about getting a fair pay on the value you can bring to the company. Plus, knowing what you’re worth enables you to screen out the companies you don’t want to work for.

Remember: There’s no right or wrong answer in the salary question

When it comes to the salary question in an interview, there’s no such thing as black or white, or a right or wrong answer. Finding the right person for the job is about finding the right key as well as the right lock, so as an interviewee, you have an equal right to negotiation.

Whether you state the number or the employer gives you the range first, knowing your worth enables you to quickly decide whether or not the job is right for you. As much as you don’t want to be underpaid, the company doesn’t want to overpay you either.

Plus, if the ‘to die for’ company thinks that you’re the right piece of the puzzle, they will be up for negotiation.

If you missed them, check out Part 1 and Part 2 for more insights into answering the interview question “What is your expected salary?” Join the conversation and tell us your interview stories in the comments section!