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INTERVIEWS: How to answer “What are your salary expectations?” for Entry-Level Positions

Written by Rod Scott, Employment Specialist with Next-Steps Employment Centre – Vaughan


No matter how great the job interview is going, there is always that one question that stops you short. “What are you looking for in terms of salary?” Such a straightforward question, and yet, the answer is so complex.

Answering questions about your salary expectation can be tricky to navigate because there are many social and professional taboos regarding discussions of money. Additionally, it can be awkward asking your boss for a raise or negotiating a salary amount during an interview, largely due to the fact that you typically want your boss or future employer to make the first offer.
In order to be successful and to leave the interview feeling confident about your salary answer, there are few important points to consider:

Be prepared – This interview question might come up when you least expect it – during a phone interview, in person at an information interview, your first or second job interview. If you are caught off guard, you could low-ball yourself or come across as confused. Always have a range in mind, and adjust this accordingly depending on the company and position you are interviewing for.

Be realistic – When you are completing research, keep in mind the level of experience included for the salary estimates. If you are new to the field, be sure to stick to the lower end of the range provided. If you are applying for an entry-level role, and you request a salary amount that is too high, this may show the employer that you are not being realistic and would not stay for long in this role, thereby disqualifying you as a candidate.

Avoid specific dollar amounts when possible – Only bring up salary if the employer asks first. It is best to give a range, to demonstrate that you are flexible with the amount you are willing to accept. It’s also important to be knowledgeable about the current minimum wage, if there are tips included in this position, and other information that will be relevant to your decision making. A common mistake occurs when employees propose a salary lower than they would really want to accept for fear of being turned away by the employer. Whether in a range or a single amount, a prospective employee should never offer an amount less than they are willing to take under the worst situation.

Remember that you don’t have to do it alone! Want to get some help with your job search? Check out our monthly calendars to see upcoming events and workshops, and register at one of our 7 GTA locations. From one-on-one sessions to group workshops, our knowledgeable staff can help with your job search needs. All services are FREE!

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