At some point during the interview process, the interviewer will ask how much you expect to be making in your new position. Such a simple and straightforward question, yet a great many jobseekers (junior and senior-level professionals alike) stumble and are unsure how to handle it. My only advice is: be honest!
Most sites recommend withholding your salary expectations and doing all you can to have the employer name a number first. I am quite certain that most people who have conducted interviews will disagree! There are few things more painful to an interviewer than asking a potential hire what their salary expectations are and receiving a vague answer. For example, if you follow advice provided on www.quintcareers.com, a career development site, your answer to a salary question would be: “I applied for this position because I am very interested in the job and your company, and I know I can make an immediate impact once on the job, but I’d like to table salary discussions until we are both sure I’m right for the job.” Well, first of all, you would sound ineloquent repeating the word ‘job’ three times in the same sentence. But more importantly, who wants to go through the entire interview process only to find out that the selected candidate is out of the company’s budgeted salary range? Same holds true for you! How excited would you be to find out, after going through a long and gruelling interview process, that you wasted your time on a position that pays 50% of your actual remuneration target?
Job seekers are hesitant to name their salary expectations for two reasons – either undervaluing themselves and not receiving the maximum salary they could or naming a number too high and being disqualified from the running altogether. If you are afraid that your expectations might be too high for the role in question, yet you are flexible, be honest! Tell the interviewer that although you are ideally targeting X, you could be negotiable since you are truly interested in the role. This affirms your expectations, yet does not close the door in case you are off mark in terms of salary. I would also recommend being honest even if you are afraid your expectations are lower than the potential maximum offered for the position. If you are really interested in the job but are concerned that you are selling yourself short, do some research and once again be honest! State what your absolute minimum salary expectations are, yet do mention that you know that other professionals in the field make a higher amount (be specific) or that you are in the running for positions that pay more (once again be precise) and that ideally you would like Y. When you are specific and honest, you will really stand out from other applicants who try to be purposefully vague and come across as unsure of what they want!