With this question, your interviewer is trying to gauge whether you’d be satisfied long-term with the pay scale and opportunities that the company was able to provide. It can also be a means of verifying your stated salary history, gauging your perceived value as an employee.
Candidates who are looking to earn or advance much more than the company can offer might have a tougher time securing a job offer. Employers are often reluctant to hire individuals who are likely to grow dissatisfied with their pay, so make sure to answer this question with honesty so everyone’s on the same page.
Points to Emphasize
This question doesn’t necessarily have bearing on how much you’d stand to make if you were hired, so treat it for what it is—an interview question.
- If you submitted an application which included salary expectations, make sure your interview response lines up.
- Be confident in your worth but keep it in perspective—you’re not at the bargaining table just yet.
- Make it clear you understand that promotions and pay increases come with performance, not just time of service.
- Many companies make employees eligible for promotion after certain durations; try to make sure your expectations are realistic.
Be clear that you’re aware of your value and expect to perform at a high level—promotions and pay raises will follow naturally.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
There are many pitfalls you need to avoid when the discussion turns to money. Keep these tips in mind:
- Failure to provide decisive input is tantamount to stating you’re not concerned with your earning potential.
- Don’t raise the bar from salary expectations you stated on your application—part of why you’re being interviewed is information you submitted on that document.
- Avoid sounding demanding or entitled—this type of question does not mean that a job offer is imminent.
- Don’t disqualify yourself from the race before it even starts by shooting for the moon. Keep your response within the realm of possibility.
Remember to look for the happy medium—don’t come across as too demanding, but don’t let yourself appear passive either.
Cite the example below for pointers on how to approach this tricky interview question:
The number I included on my application is pretty accurate—I’d be comfortable starting at $50 thousand, which was my most recent pay rate. I’d hope for the possibility to promote within six to 12 months, depending on position availability, but my goal is to continue moving upward toward an executive role in the future.
This response takes a clear stance, reflects where the value comes from, and shows a humble desire to steadily advance one’s career.