Answer the awkward question and get what you want

“What are your salary expectations?” is probably one of the most difficult questions to answer, whether you’re interviewing at a new company or going for a promotion where you currently work. It’s always awkward to talk about money, as you often don’t want to appear greedy but don’t want to undersell yourself either. After all there’s nothing more demotivating than being in a job and feeling like you’re not getting paid what you deserve. There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to discussing your salary expectations, however hopefully our advice can help you get to the figure you want and deserve.

Do Your Research

It’s so important to do your research! If you go in with an unrealistic amount whether too high or too low, then it might take you out of the running or present you as a candidate who doesn’t understand the market. Look at current vacancies for similar roles to see what is being offered, taking in to consideration the size of the organisation and the level of responsibility that the position involves. Sites such as are really helpful as they can help you to benchmark yourself.

Have a Salary Bracket

Having a fixed amount in mind doesn’t give an employer much room for negotiation, so it’s always best to offer a salary bracket. However don’t be surprised if an employer comes in at the bottom end of the bracket, as the bottom of your bracket might be the top of their budget! Just be realistic, if you wouldn’t be happy with the bottom end of the salary bracket then raise your numbers a little. Speak to your recruitment partner and get their guidance on what they think is realistic.

Balance the Benefits

As well as considering the salary that you’re being offered, you also need to price up the value of any benefits that are available to you. For example you might be offered a slightly lower salary than you hoped but it may come with high value benefits such as a company car or private healthcare which you may find makes more difference to your life than a little extra money.

Think about the Future

You also need to think about what the future looks like in your current job and the job you’re being offered. For example, are there more progression opportunities and additional responsibilities that could lead to a better salary in the future? It’s really important to look at the bigger picture when it comes to your career move, rather than just focus on the here and now.

Decide What You Need

When thinking about your salary you of course need to think about your living costs and whether the salary will meet your needs. There are some great budgeting tools available online that help you get a clear picture of your spending.

Consider the Logistics

You also need to think about the logistics of travel to your new role and factor that in to any increase you might be asking for. For example if the new role is giving you an extra hour in the evening at home than you may find that holds more value you to you than a little extra money.

Prepare to Negotiate

Don’t be concerned if your initial request is rejected and a lower offer is made. It isn’t a reflection on your performance, more than likely it’s due to budget or out of respect to others already within the company who may earn a lower salary. Feel confident to ask for a little more or perhaps a few additional benefits if you feel you’re not being offered what you deserve. You also need to decide whether you’re willing to walk away if you’re not given what you ask for.

Sell Yourself

When asked the question, as well as giving the salary bracket you’re hoping for, make it clear why you feel you deserve the amount. For example you might say “I’m looking for a salary between £35,000 and £40,000, I know that’s a little higher than advertised but I have achieved the targets set in my previous roles, in some cases exceeding them and built strong relationships with internal teams”. This leaves the interviewer with not just a figure but also a great summary and selling message for why you want the job.

Be Happy!

Of course salary is so important, as at the end of the day that’s why most of us go to work! However consider which role will truly give the satisfying and rewarding career that you’re looking for. You need to do whatever makes you happy and excited to go to work, as really that’s the most important thing.

Oh and if you are asked this awkward question, it tends to be a good sign, so good luck!


Here at Optimum Recruitment Group we specialise in the recruitment of Accountancy, Finance and Human Resource professionals across the Yorkshire region. Let us help you find the opportunity you’re looking for, call 01904 208065 or email

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