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How To Address Salary Expectations In Your Job Interview

How To Address Salary Expectations In Your Job Interview

over 1 year ago By Emily Harris
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While money can’t buy you happiness, there’s no denying that salary is a considerable factor when accepting a job offer. How compensation is set and how easily employees can access what they’ve earned is more closely tied to engagement and recruitment than people might think. In a recent survey by the human capital software company Ceridian, in 2019only 25% of Australiansare completely satisfied with their compensation and 41% of Australians were unsatisfied with their job due to a bad salary/wage.

While many within the public sector choose to work with government organisations for many reasons -supporting their local community, having better work-life balance – being compensated fairly for our skills and experience is still important. Which is why when the inevitable question about salary expectations is raised during the recruitment process, it is important for jobseekers to strike the right balance. You need to provide a salary or wage bracket that is both industry standard and won’t deter your potential employer while being high enough a figure to adequately represent your worth and impact positively on your overall job satisfaction. Achieving this requires a little bit of research on the jobseeker’s part, so Public Sector People have collated the best ways to prepare for the ‘elephant in the room’ in an interview; talking money.

Do Your Research First

In a recent Design and Build survey on salary negotiations, the majority of respondents (26%) cited not knowing their worth as their biggest challenge. Salaries and wages range greatly depending on industry, experience, and location. Furthermore within the Public Sector, the period of time wages are commonly affixed to (per day, per hour) will differ from job to job as there are so many part-time, contract and job sharing options available. This makes it difficult to know if your compensation is aligning with your career progression. Consequently, when preparing for a job interview, knowing how your proposed salary or wage compares to the industry standard is integral to the negotiation process; it sets a benchmark which can then guide your decision on whether to accept a figure or provide a jumping off point for further negotiations.

Researching salary rates can seem like an overwhelming process, but there are numerous organisations and online tools that can help. Australia’s leading online employment marketplace SEEK, suggest the best place to start is looking at different job postings for similar roles in your area so you can establish a ballpark salary or wage range. Doing a standard job search on job marketplaces like Linkedin, Seek and Indeed for roles that are in your industry, have similar responsibilities to what you do, are working similar hours to you (full-time/part-time) and require someone with a similar level of experience to you can give you a better idea of what organisations are currently offering, and what range you yourself can reference in interviews.

It’s also worthwhile to reach out to recruitment consultants that work within your particular industry, as recruiting for a number of diverse organisations gives them a unique perspective on competitive salary rates and what a realistic expectation would be based on your experience, location and overall career goals. There are even online platforms and bodies which can help calculate your worth. Global job site Glassdoor for example, has a ‘Know Your Worth’ tool which can provide a personalised estimated market value based on their available and previous job listings within your industry. Alternately, compensation software and data company PayScale, has developed a Salary Survey that employees can use to determine a customised salary report.

Wait Until The Final Interview

Unless you’re asked directly about salary expectations beforehand, it’s best not to broach the subject until your final interview. Timing is critical and your primary focus – especially in your initial interactions with a prospective employer- should be on displaying your suitability for the role and ensuring the job is the right fit for you.

Usually in the recruitment process there are a few interview rounds- perhaps an initial screening call and then two to three interviews with different members of the business- especially if they’re recruiting for a leadership position. Bringing up salary too early in the recruitment process can appear presumptuous, as at this stage an organisation will be talking to a number of people. It can also suggest you value money over experience and opportunity, which doesn’t necessarily leave a good impression and could put you at a disadvantage. Alternately, by the final interview stage, a candidate will have already demonstrated their ability to perform at a role and will also have gained a good idea of who the organisation is, what the role will be like and whether it aligns with their career goals and values, so they can feel confident in committing to the organisation.

On the flipside, it’s also difficult to try to negotiate salary or wages after the contract is signed and your starting date has been confirmed, as by this stage you’ve already accepted your new employee’s terms and conditions. So, if an organisation hasn’t brought up pay by the end of your final interview, it’s worth raising the question yourself to get an idea of what you’d be working with; would their offer approximately match your expectations? This can feel intimidating but asking about salary packages at the interview portion of the interview, might make the question feel more natural. The compensation software and data company Payscale also suggest to always broach salary by asking questions rather than making demands. This will make the exchange feel like you’re trying to cooperate with your prospective employer and create a win-win solution.

Leave Room For Further Negotiation

When asked about salary expectations it’s advised not to mention a specific figure – provide your preferred salary or wage range (based on industry standards) instead. Providing a range indicates that you’re flexible on compensation and also provides you with a little more room to negotiate, once you’ve received an official offer.

It’s also important to be honest in your answer on your salary expectations. Bluffing about your previous or current compensation or trying to mislead a prospective employer on standard salary rates in an effort to get more money will only backfire. It’s very easy for someone to check references and do their own research into salary rates, and if they’ve realized you’ve deliberately tried to mislead them, they’ll be far less inclined to offer you the role. Instead, remember to emphasise the value you can bring to the organisation when referencing compensation and be honest about the range you’d like and think you’re worth.

To find out more information about how to address your potential wage or salary in a job interview, or even if you’re looking for advice on what salary range you should aim for when conducting your job search, why not reach out to Public Sector People. Our consultants work within a wide and diverse range of roles within the public sector and have a great knowledge on what key organisations are offering depending on industry, experience level, contract level etc. Contact us below to find out more information or get in touch with a consultant today.


Phone: (03) 8535 3111