Any fresher interview question that seems to be common and important tends to be tricky. Most interview candidates avoid proper preparation for them, mainly because they are unaware of the contextual importance of such questions from the interviewer’s point of view. At the start of an interview, you will encounter questions like “Tell us about yourself” or “Walk me through your resume“. The interviewer may want to know about your more about you as a person. If so they may want to know about your hobbies and goals. Finally, the questions may become more specific based on your career plans. One question that everyone will always encounter during the middle or final stages of the recruitment process is about your remuneration.
Most of the time, the candidates are caught off guard when they hear, “What are your salary expectations?” or “How much are you expecting for your remuneration?”. If the interviewer knows your current salary, he/she may ask, “How much raise are you looking for?”.
There is a subtle tension before the candidates respond. There is the fear of getting judged by the interviewer. Then there is the matter of candidate’s own satisfaction. Both of them seem to combine causing him/her to panic and blurt out figures that may either be too high or may simply leave the money on the table.
Therefore, this is one of the most sensitive parts of the interviews and needs to be handled cautiously. This question is asked at a stage where the recruiter’s mind is mostly inclined towards hiring you. If we don’t mess it up, you may just cross the finishing line! So it is important to prepare the answer to this question in such a way that, it “feels just” for both sides – the recruiter and the candidate.
Why do interviewers ask, “How much salary do you expect?”
The interviewers are considering many dimensions when they ask this question. They have to find a sweet spot for you and their organization. They also want to be sure that they are hiring the right candidate. Let us take a look at the top reasons behind this question.
1. Hiring Budget
Every position in any organization has a budget. There are ranges of remuneration for each level in every department. Even before the start of the recruitment process, these numbers are decided.
The interviewer wants to ensure your idea of salary does not exceed the range they have been given for the position. Even if you are an exceptional candidate, they have to let you go if they’re unable to afford your expectations. On rare occasions, if the candidate is naturally positioned in such a way that he/she is exceptionally fit for the role and can contribute in a big way to the company, this can change. The recruiters may try to find adjustments in their budget to accommodate the candidate.
2. Your qualification and fitment for the offered position
It is a tough task for interviewers to hire good candidates. There is a natural demand from several companies for such individuals. Your past experience, educational and extracurricular activities come into play while they are determining your value. Generally, everyone knows how much their skillset is worth in the market. So when you talk about your expectations they understand, if you are level-headed and confident.
3. To understand how and where can they accommodate your expectations
Good candidates receive good remuneration. But their remuneration can be provided in different ways. Some of it can be base pay, some of it can be performance-linked and some of it can be tenure-linked. Some part of it can be in cash and some can be in equity. The interviewers want to know how they may be able to structure your base pay, your bonus, and your equity allocation to ensure that they find a way to make you satisfied with their final offer.
How can you skillfully handle this fresher interview question?
Now you have a fair idea of why this is a tricky question and why this question is asked by the interviewers. It is time for you to have a systematic approach while you respond to it.
10 Important Tips to consider while preparing or delivering your answer
1. Carry out some initial research on salaries available for similar positions
Salaries available for any common role in the industry depend on multiple factors. It depends on the organization, the location, the level of the position in the organization, years of experience the candidate has, his/her educational background, and other things like unique experiences or special skills that may weigh in the favor of the applicant.
There are multiple tools available or websites that you can use to do this research. Take a look at Payscale, LinkedIn Salary, and Glassdoor to start with. You will not only find average salaries for different positions but also company reviews which can be helpful in your search to find the right salary expectation.
2. Carefully consider or ask for detailed job requirements
Try understanding the job requirements thoroughly. Before determining your worth for the job, ask the interviewer for more details about the job. You need to understand your responsibilities before stating your expectations. Only after this knowledge, you will be able to determine how to position yourself. Consider things like additional costs that you will incur in case of relocation post recruitment.
3. Consider a salary range instead of a specific number
It gives room for negotiation for both the parties involved in salary discussion. It also shows you are less demanding and more open to the interviewer.
That said, the range should be small. Otherwise, it can come across as vague or generic thinking. Keeping the difference small also shows your clarity.
4. Be open to various compensation options
Companies consider various elements like cash and equity or base pay plus bonus. If you are open to different structures of your compensation, it makes the job easy and the future salary negotiations smooth.
Remember, you and the recruiting organization both want this recruitment to happen. So finding the middle ground is important.
5. If asked about expectations early, delay talking about it
Sometimes even before your first interview, the human resources representative from the hiring organization may ask you, what salary do you expect in the new role.
In response, apart from generic responses like “industry standard” you should avoid getting into details. It is wise to say that, you would first like understand the position and its future in their organization in more detail. Make the HR person sell you the role!
6. Use counter questions to get their budget
When the interviewers ask you about your salary expectations, it can be a smart move to ask a question like, “Good that you asked me about it. Can you share your tentative salary range available for this position?”
It gives them a chance to open up. It also gives you an opportunity to understand their approach towards you.
7. Aim for the higher side of the range
This shows your confidence and self-esteem. Always know that, in a way, salary is never a constraint for the right candidate.
The recruiting company wants the best people to work for themselves because in long term their biggest advantage lies in the quality of people working for them.
8. Talk about what you bring to the table
Even if you may have talked about it earlier, while talking about your expectations, it becomes important to refer to your skillset and experience briefly. It helps you set the right tone for a favorable outcome.
It helps the interviewer to remember what differentiates you from others.
9. Sound calm and use positive language
Looking confident helps at this stage. It removes the awkwardness of the situation. It can actually tilt the interviewer in your favor.
Avoid sounding shaky and uncertain.
10. Prepare sincerely
Most candidates take this question lightly and it turns out to be the biggest differentiator between them and the top earners.
You need to at least aim to grab the best offer you can.
Sample answers to “What are your salary expectations?”
1. “I am flexible about my remuneration expectataions. That said I expect to receive a fair compensation for this role considering my educational background and the skills I have built. That said, can we discuss what this job entails in a bit of detail?”
Here you are showing your flexibility as well as your confidence. You also show that you are more focused on understanding the job more thoroughly.
2. “My research showed me that generally the salary for this kind of role is in the range of Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 30,000. I understand that we may need to consider the cost of living if I need to relocate. However, I want to be open and flexible in this discussion. Can you share a tentative range you have on your mind?”
Here you are demonstrating proactiveness. It is also reflecting your maturity when you show your calmness and flexibility. You are also using your counter-question at the right time to gauge what is on the table for you.
This is covering your skills, experience, research, and more importantly your hunger to learn. Especially in freshers, hunger to learn is a big plus for them to get recruited with fair compensation.
Overall, carefully following the guidance provided in this article can put you in a strong position to deal with your interviewer. You can also explore these relevant interview questions.