What are your salary expectations?

We’ve all been there. The interview has gone swimmingly, you really want the job and your interviewer turns to you and asks what your salary expectations are.

How do you make sure you pitch yourself at the level you know you’re worth?

At Public Practice Recruitment Ltd we’re here to support you with every step of the recruitment journey so read on to learn our best advice for requesting the salary you’d consider accepting.

Let’s start by considering the interviewers’ strategy for even asking the question in the first place. Most likely they’ve been stung before and have fallen hook, line and sinker for a candidate before negotiations hit a brick wall and the firm’s budget couldn’t come anywhere near to the requested rate of pay.

They want to know if you’re a candidate that they should seriously be shortlisting and potentially inviting back for a second interview, so the fact that they’re asking the question is a good sign!

But it’s a question you want to be prepared for. Our experience shows that when someone is asked the question and they don’t have a prepared answer they usually go in low and regret it.

Our first piece of advice is to do your research, and there’s plenty of tools available to help you understand what might be a realistic but deserved figure or bracket to ask for.

  • We will always advertise a salary range on our jobs but this can be quite wide. So within the advertised bracket consider what range would make the job a realistic option for you.
  • Take a look at the firm’s website and see what they are offering for roles above, below and at your level – this will give you an idea of their budget and salary scale.
  • Take a look at our most recent Salary Survey to understand what people at your level in practice are being paid around the country. And while you’re there we’d be delighted if you could complete this salary survey to help us compile even more up to date data on the topic.
  • Chat to trusted friends that you qualified with or who are in your peer groups to get a feel for what the going rate is.
  • Have a chat with our MD, Garry Howling in advance of your interview and share the salary or salary bracket that you’d like to achieve. Garry’s extensive experience in the industry means that he’s an excellent sounding board and will offer you encouragement if the number you have in mind is realistic and some objective advice if it’s not.

Don’t forget that the additional employee benefits offered from firm to firm can differ greatly so when you answer this key question at interview you can also ask questions of your interviewer. Here’s an example…

‘ Before I can suggest my preferred salary bracket I’d really like to understand what additional rewards you offer?’

And what we mean here is that if a firm offers health insurance, professional and wellbeing subscriptions, study support, an annual bonus and more, perhaps your salary expectation could be a little lower than it would be for the firm who offers nothing more than the minimum statutory rewards of annual leave and a basic pension.

Ultimately our advice to how you answer this question is to offer the figure that would make you happy and valued in your job and excited to start work but that you think a modern firm will be able to sustain paying. And remember to mention any specific reasons why you think you’re worth it. Perhaps you’re very well connected and will open many doors to new business for their firm. Or perhaps you have a unique qualification or skill that makes you stand out from the crowd at your level in accountancy.

Pitch it too low and you’ll start to resent the role very quickly and be on the lookout to move again. But pitch it too high and you risk not being considered for the role. It’s about finding the balanced figure and presenting it in a way that is friendly but confident.

Preparing for interview is a really important use of your time and we see first hand the difference it makes to not only the decision on whether to offer, but the figure that accompanies that offer. Invest your time and do your research to ensure you’re well prepared and it’s likely you’ll reap rewards further down the line.

For help getting interview prepped take a look at the extensive library of resources in our Candidates’ Hub and don’t be afraid to reach out with your questions or for more specific advice. We’re always here to help.




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