Answering ‘what are your salary expectations‘ during an interview

18 September 2017

Probably this is one of the questions that come last during the interview and most candidates dread the money question. It is therefore important to prepare yourself to answer as it is almost guaranteed that this will be asked in any interview. Of course, not preparing enough can have negative consequences.

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1. It can cost you the job

2. You can accept a less-than-desirable salary offer which means you are probably not paid fairly as compared to similar people in your role and /or region

But why do companies or hiring managers ask for salary expectations from candidates or why is the money question so important in an interview? Most of the companies already have a budget for each role they seek to hire and therefore want to know during the interview if they can pay what you are asking for. There are however exceptions as some companies may pay higher or lower than the market rate either due to the financial resources of the company or they may attach some value to certain roles and thus pay a bit higher. Also worth noting is that companies wants to understand the value you attach to this role and basically what is your worth? The interview therefore presents such a ripe opportunity to sell oneself by discussing one's worth - the value they will add to the organization and possibly a chance to negotiate the salary offer.

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The money question is usually asked in 2 ways; how much are you currently making? Secondly, how much do you expect to make? - What are your salary expectations? The latter means you need to research what the market rate for that position is to understand if you are paid fairly. Salarydata.co.ke provides such data to help candidates better understand this as well as tips on how to negotiate for salary.

Below are some ways to help you answer this important question;

Work with a salary range

It becomes easier when you have a range which again is neither too high nor too low the market range. You can input a variety of job titles to see if the averages change significantly.

Before attending the interview, research first

To initiate smart salary discussions with the hiring manager ensure you have armed yourself with adequate research about the role and the market rate.  If you appear at the interview without prior research you may look unreasonable and maybe make you lose the opportunity.

Support your 'salary expectations' answer

As this would be the right opportunity to sell yourself, it is important to present your case thoughtfully and share the reasons for quoting a specific salary range with the employer for example, a fair analysis of the job market for that position being interviewed for. Also worth noting is that salaries are influenced by many factors, for example, the level of one's education, years of experience, region, age, gender, etc. and it is important to support your facts while answering this question. Basically, you are proving your worth to the prospective employer.

Show Flexibility

Most hiring managers appreciate a degree of flexibility from the candidates in terms of what their expectations are. Whereas salary is important in this process, it is equally important for the candidates to look at the non-financial aspects of the salary as well e.g. well defined career path and development programmes, flexible working hours, health benefits, gym memberships etc.

Most job seekers want a fair salary that is externally competitive. Nevertheless, answering the salary question is a key selection factor by hiring managers in establishing whether you will be offered an attractive compensation or not.

Know your worth and get paid fairly!

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Peter Kinyanjui

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