31 Jan

The Best Way to Answer Salary Questions in an IT Interview

Posted by John Brandwagt

You’ve landed an interview and now you’re preparing to answer all the questions the interviewer is likely to ask. You’ve gone over the list of the questions they’ll be likely to ask, and you’ve even prepared some questions of your own.

Download "The 2017/2018 Salary Guide For Information Technology Professionals"

What about salary questions? Most people suggest you shouldn’t ask these questions in the initial interview. They’ll come up when and if the employer offers you a job.

What happens if the employer asks you?

Your Salary “Expectations”

It’s a common enough question but it can be off-putting. After all, you’re not supposed to ask salary-related questions until you’ve been offered a job. There’s little point in discussing salary until the employer’s sure you’re a good fit.

Sometimes, employers will ask you to send your “salary expectations” along with your resume. Your interviewer may bring this up in an interview. If you didn’t submit salary expectations, you may be asked about them directly.

The information helps an employer assess whether or not they could add you to the team. They likely have a budget in mind for the position but they may have some wiggle room. They may be willing to negotiate, especially if you’re the right person with the right skillset for the job.

It seems unfair because employers and interviewers rarely show their hand when it comes to answering salary-related questions. One reason you’re not supposed to ask these questions is they can be tough to answer. So how can you go about answering one yourself?

Honesty Is the Best Policy

Ask for what you want. Of course, everyone would like to be paid a million dollars, but you know that’s unlikely to happen. Keep your salary expectations realistic but don’t be afraid to assert what you want.

Did your last job pay you $30,000? Ask for $35,000. If the employer doesn’t want to offer you at least that, you probably won’t accept a job offer from them anyway. If they don’t call back, you can rest easy knowing they weren’t prepared to negotiate or pay for your expertise. You’ll be happier in the end, and the right job will come along.

Give a Range

When you’re answering questions about salary expectations in IT interviews, it’s better to give a range of salaries than to give one salary. This makes you seem more open to negotiation. While you shouldn’t undersell yourself, suggesting you’d expect a salary in the range of $35,000 to $40,000 gives the employer more room to manoeuvre. It also suggests you’re flexible and open to discussion.

Mention Total Compensation

If the employer offers benefits or other perks, be sure to mention that with your salary expectations. By doing so, you suggest you’re looking at “total compensation,” not just your salary. Employers like to point out the value of benefits, vacation pay, and pension plans.

By suggesting you’d negotiate your salary with consideration of these benefits in mind, you’re telling the employer you’re looking at the whole picture. You see the value of a good pension plan or excellent benefits.

Justify Your Ask

Do some research before your interview. One of the things you should look at is the salary range for the job you’re applying to. You might also see if you can find how much this company pays, on average, for a person in this position. A site like Glassdoor.ca can be useful in this regard.

With this knowledge in hand, you can better justify your salary expectations. When you know what the going rate is, you can justify asking for something within that range. Also be sure to highlight your expertise and experience.

Answering this question doesn’t need to be a minefield if you follow these tips.



Topics: IT Jobs

John Brandwagt

John is a Practice Leader at Inteqna. He’s been working in IT Search in Calgary since 1997. He works best with selective job seekers—those who excel at what they do and enjoy their current jobs. Since they don’t have time to look for themselves, he helps them find their dream jobs. From a client perspective, he helps organizations find the talent that will propel their business. John is involved in several of Calgary’s technical user groups and has held board roles in non-profit groups. He is a single dad of four boys who try to beat him at every physical activity from hiking to rugby.

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