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How much are you worth?

Kate Allen, Managing Director, Allen Associates

It is an inevitability that at some point during the interview process the question about your salary expectations will come up.

For the brave and supremely confident among you, the answer will come easily. For the rest of us, it’s a question that can throw even the most experienced interviewee. So what is the best way to answer it and how do you actually determine how much you are worth anyway?

Check your understand of what is being asked

Now we realise this may be casting aspersion on Employers, but they do like to throw curveball questions at Candidates during the interview. But they don’t do it to catch you out. Rather, the questions they ask are to determine two things: How do you rate yourself, and can they afford you?

If you give the impression that you are too expensive, you will need to work harder at the interview to persuade the Employer that you are an investment worth making. However, price yourself too low and it could raise a red flag over you capabilities – even if they can get you for a lower rate than other Candidates, they won’t regard you in the same way.

Do your homework

It is a cliché but true nonetheless – knowledge really is power. You need to be realistic about what you can expect to take home each month. So do some digging and find out what other people performing a similar role get paid.

The first port of call is to speak to your local Recruitment Agency. They will have first hand knowledge about how much Employers are prepared to pay for such roles in your area. You could also look at job sites and the careers pages of those companies you would like to work for to see what salaries they advertise. Sites such as Glassdoor and Payscale can also give you an idea of the overall range of salaries on offer.

Consider non-monetary benefits too

There is no question that the salary on offer is a key factor in the decision making process. However, it isn’t the only thing that needs to be considered. According to one global survey, 80% of Candidates would choose additional benefits over a pay rise.

Consider the benefits and perks that may be on offer with your new Employer, compare it to what you have now, and use this information to decide what you consider to be fair offer. For instance, could greater flexibility in your working hours help with family or education commitments, or maybe the option of working from home occasionally would be a great help (and save you money on the commute too)? Perhaps an extra few days on top of your holiday allowance could make all the difference to you? These are all valuable benefits that offer greater flexibility and work-life balance and they hardly cost the Employer a thing, so everyone wins.

Finally, rehearse your response

“I don’t know really” or “I’m not sure” are responses that put the negotiation control firmly in the hands of the Employer. After all, you are trying to position yourself as the best Candidate for the job, so you should be able to attach a value to what that role involves.

Prepare your response on how to answer the question of what you salary expectations are. Here are a few examples:

If the salary is advertised:

  • The role is currently advertised as paying up to £25,000 – I believe that my experience and career achievements to date put me in this salary bracket.
  • The advertised salary is a little bit less than what I was ideally looking for. However, this is very much an organisation that I want to be part of, so perhaps there is some flexibility?

If the salary isn’t advertised:

  • I understand that the average salary for this type of position in Oxford is between £25,000 and £27,000 – I am happy with that.
  • What is the range being offered?
  • I’m sure the salary on offer is in line with the going rate for this type of position. What’s most important to me is finding the right role that is best suited to my skills and ambitions.

One of the most popular motivational quotes comes from the film Rocky Balboa, where the lead character played by Sylvester Stallone says, “If you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you're worth.” That is the ultimate aim of any job interview – to ‘sell’ your potential as a great employee and get the job and package you truly deserve.

If you’re looking to make your next career move, speak to one of our Consultants today. We’ve been helping Candidates like you find their ideal jobs for the last 20 years. Let us help you. Call us on 01865 335 600 or email

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