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Salary-Related Interview Questions

Salary interview questions can be the toughest to answer, here are 10 salary related questions with answer examples that can help you during your next interview.

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Question 1 of 10

What are your salary expectations?

How to Answer

In many states, it is now illegal for hiring authorities to ask about your current earnings. A question like this will give the interviewer a solid idea of what you are hoping to earn. When you change positions, you want to see an increase in wage. Most interviewees will typically aim for a 7-15% increase for each time they change jobs. This range offers room for negotiations with the new company. This percentage increase reflects economic inflation, unique skills you bring to the table from the last time you joined an organization, and an increase in responsibilities. The best way to discuss your salary expectations is to use your current earnings as an example if you are comfortable doing so. If this makes you uncomfortable, do give as many indicators as you can. Be open, and honest. Transparency is the best choice when salary based questions arise.

If you are newer to your career, or the area, and are unsure of what a fair ask may be, there are many reliable salary calculators available online.

Written by Rachelle Enns

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List of 10 Salary Interview Questions & Answers

  • 1.

    What are your salary expectations?

      How to Answer

      In many states, it is now illegal for hiring authorities to ask about your current earnings. A question like this will give the interviewer a solid idea of what you are hoping to earn. When you change positions, you want to see an increase in wage. Most interviewees will typically aim for a 7-15% increase for each time they change jobs. This range offers room for negotiations with the new company. This percentage increase reflects economic inflation, unique skills you bring to the table from the last time you joined an organization, and an increase in responsibilities. The best way to discuss your salary expectations is to use your current earnings as an example if you are comfortable doing so. If this makes you uncomfortable, do give as many indicators as you can. Be open, and honest. Transparency is the best choice when salary based questions arise.

      If you are newer to your career, or the area, and are unsure of what a fair ask may be, there are many reliable salary calculators available online.

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      1st Answer Example

      "Currently, I earn a base salary of $45,000 per year, and I would like to earn slightly higher in my next position, as I have additional certifications since my last salary negotiation took place."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      Admin

      "As I am new to my career and this industry, I am happy to negotiate my earnings based on your typical salary for this role. From my research, I see that the average junior administrator in the Chicago area earns an annual salary in the $45K range."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      Manager

      "I can share with you what I am currently earning, and where I would like to be in my next position. Currently, I am earning a base salary of $78K plus an annual bonus opportunity of an additional 10%. Last year my earnings were $85K, and I'd like to earn above that in my next position, to reflect the MBA I recently acquired."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      Marketing

      "I am currently making $80,000 per year with two bonus opportunities based on project completion. I am looking for compensation that is aligned with the responsibilities of this role and provides an opportunity to learn new skills."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      Retail

      "I would like to earn slightly above where I am now. Currently, I earn $25/hour plus benefits and a 10% commission on all sales. My target income for the coming year is $65,000."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      Sales

      "I am negotiable with my salary expectations. However, I am not inclined to lose compensation. Compensation to me, though, is not only net pay. I take into account work hours, commute. overnight travel, health benefits, etc."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      Community Answer

      "My salary requirements are flexible, but for a ballpark figure, I would accept $100,000 considering the cost of living in the Bay Area."

      Written by an Anonymous User

      Kevin Downey

      Our Professional Interview Coach
      Kevin Downey Reviewed the Above Answer

      I recommend putting some more thought and nuance into your answer. One one hand you express you are flexible, but on the other hand you express your number is somewhat inflexible due to cost of living. But you don't detail what makes you worthy of such an investment. You don't have to revisit your qualifications or your answers to other questions to justify your number. Instead, exemplify your worth in how you answer this question. By putting thought into your communication you can exemplify your worth.

      "I am currently making $95,000 a year with my current employer, with a $2000 bonus at year’s end. We all know that cost of living in the bay area is a factor when it comes to pay, and I;m sure you hear that a lot. But hey, we’re all doing our best with the choices we make, including where we choose to live. However, understanding there is quite the shortage in the workforce right now, my current employer has offered me an increase should I choose to stay. Also, it seems fair to mention I have pretty good health insurance benefits through work. Traveling to this location would also be quite a commute, and with gas prices where they’re at, this could put a dent in my earnings as well. I imagine, due to the distance, it would cost about $150 a week for gas costs alone. That’s nearly ten thousand a year in gas. Moving closer is less of an option due to real estate prices, a common issue in the Bay Area, as we all well know.

      If you don’t mind, before we hone in on a number, I have some questions. Do you offer health insurance benefits? Do you have any commuter benefits? Is there a remote work option available for this position? Do you offer yearly bonuses? What is your budgeted range that you are able to offer for this position? Are there any other perks worth mentioning?"

  • 2.

    Do you feel performance should be rewarded over experience?

      How to Answer

      The interviewer would like to know your thoughts on being paid based on your work performance, versus being compensated solely on your years of experience. As millennial employees continue to dominate the work scene, more and more employees are requesting compensation based on delivered results. Do you feel that you should be paid based on tenure, or results? Discuss this with the interviewer and back your answer with an example, if possible.

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      1st Answer Example

      "I feel that employees should be paid, and rewarded, based on their performance. A new employee will find motivation in being rewarded for performance, and it encourages a healthy competition with tenured employees."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      Admin

      "As a high performer myself, I know it feels great to be compensated based on my performance. It's motivating and, in my opinion, a more modern approach to keeping employees happy and engaged."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      Manager

      "As a manager of people myself, I feel that both performance and experience should be weighted when deciding compensation, pay increases, and promotions. You want to ensure that you compensate your highest performers appropriately but that their growth is stable and manageable in the long-term."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      Marketing

      "In marketing, performance is everything! For that reason, I do believe it should be the primary consideration when it comes to compensation, bonus' and raises. Tenure is vital to consider as well, and also continued education and training are excellent considerations."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      Retail

      "In retail, it is often tenure that is recognized, over performance. Usually, the longest standing employee gets the promotion to the manager for instance. I believe this is best due to the high turnover rate in retail. Yes, you need to prove your performance, but you also need to prove your loyalty."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      Sales

      "I am all about rewards for performance, being a competitive salesperson. I like the idea of gaining raises, earning more, and even promotions based on my being a go-getter. You can be a low performing employee at six months or 16 years, so I don't think that tenure should be the biggest consideration."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      Community Answer

      "I believe that experience should be taken into account when first starting in a position. As you transition into the job, you should be rewarded based on performance. Those who are top performers should get a larger bonus or raise."

      Written by an Anonymous User

      Rachelle Enns

      Our Professional Interview Coach
      Rachelle Enns Reviewed the Above Answer

      You offer an insightful answer that shows the hiring authority your willingness to reward the hard work of your team.

  • 3.

    How do you feel about performance incentives?

      How to Answer

      The interviewer would like to know if you are the type of employee to be motivated by financial incentives or rewards in the workplace. If you are not incentive-driven, you can clarify for the interviewer the other ideas in which you are best motivated. Discuss any performance incentives you may have earned in the past.

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      1st Answer Example

      "I feel that performance incentives are a great idea. They keep an employee motivated to do a great job and ensure that they are on top of their KPI's. The majority of people are very enthused about being rewarded for their successes, myself included."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      Admin

      "I cannot say that I have been offered performance incentives in the past, but that sure sounds like a nice idea. I am a high-achiever, regardless of an incentive being present but it is nice to feel appreciated."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      Manager

      "I think performance incentives are important for driving people to get results. For me, as a manager, I feel incentives give me some skin in the game and get my team engaged in making an impact towards the company's desired results."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      Marketing

      "I love performance incentives! In my current role, we have a few contents per year, primarily based on financial goals and project results. So far, I have one a free day off, and coffee from Starbucks for a week! What types of incentives do you have for fun, here at Company ABC?"

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      Retail

      "My current company always runs a sales contest of some sort. Usually, the win is tied to sales results but sometimes to customer feedback. I think these incentives are fun! I have earned a couple of gift cards so far."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      Sales

      "As a sales professional, it's important to me that I have the opportunity to work towards fun and challenging incentives. Currently, my company does not offer anything like this and if I could change it, I would. It's amazing what a little bit of healthy competition can do amongst a sales team."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      Community Answer

      "Overall I think performance incentives are a great tool to use as most people will be motivated by this. If people know the more they produce, the more they will push to try harder."

      Written by an Anonymous User

      Rachelle Enns

      Our Professional Interview Coach
      Rachelle Enns Reviewed the Above Answer

      Good! Do you offer performance incentives in your current management role? It may be nice to offer up some information regarding the ways you incentivize your team currently.

  • 4.

    How would you prefer to be compensated?

      How to Answer

      The interviewer would like to know what type of compensation structure makes you the most comfortable. Are you looking for a compensation structure based primarily on salary, commission, or a blend of both? Maybe additional perks are more critical for you, such as vacation time, flex days, a health spending account, a generous medical plan, pension, shares, RRSP matching, car allowance, cell phone allowance, expense account, and more! Discuss with the hiring manager how you would prefer to be compensated but be sure not to pigeonhole yourself. Freely ask the interviewer what they offer, if you are unsure.

      Written by Rachelle Enns

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  • 5.

    What is your current salary?

      How to Answer

      It is important to note that this question may be illegal, depending on your geographical location. If you are in a place where it is unlawful for a hiring authority or recruiter to ask this question, you can politely decline by saying, 'I am aware that this question breaches my rights as a candidate in the state of XYZ.'

      A potential employer will often want to base their offer on your current salary. Whenever possible, you should be transparent about your most recent earnings and be prepared to back up any salary requests in states or provinces where it is entirely legal to ask about compensation. Keep your answer simple, and to the point. It is indeed okay to ask the interviewer what they are offering in return!

      Written by Rachelle Enns on September 4th, 2020

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  • 6.

    Are you comfortable being paid on a 100% commission basis?

      How to Answer

      The interviewer would like to know if you are happy with being paid solely on your performance. The majority of roles that will pay 100% commission are retail and sales based positions. Whether the job pays 100% commission or not, may not be the point of this question. Assure the interviewer that you are confident in your ability to be a top performer, regardless of commissions or a comfy base salary. Are you able to work hard and be paid based on your performance alone?

      Written by Rachelle Enns

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  • 7.

    Do you feel that you are currently paid what you are worth?

      How to Answer

      The interviewer would like to know if you feel undervalued in your current role. Many employees will look for new work if they think that they are underpaid and underappreciated. Of course, this potential new employer wants to ensure that they will make you a competitive offer that will entice you to join their organization, and stay there. Talk to the interviewer about your current compensation and whether or not you feel it is fair. Be sure to have researched your answer to back you up, versus throwing out a random number and hoping it will stick.

      If you think you receive what you are worth: 'I feel that my current employer pays me fairly; however, I would like to see an increase in pay with an increase in responsibilities."

      If you do not feel you are currently paid what you are worth: "I know that I am underpaid compared to my industry colleagues. My company is small, and they do what they can, but this is part of why I am seeking a new position."

      Written by Rachelle Enns on September 4th, 2020

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  • 8.

    Is compensation the most important factor for you when taking a new job?

      How to Answer

      The interviewer would like to know how much emphasis you put on pay when considering a new position. In addition to compensation, there are many other factors to a fulfilling career. These other factors may include:

      - work/life balance
      - amount of travel involved in the role
      - overall medical and health benefits
      - additional perks such as car allowance, cell allowance, spending account
      - the industry you will be working in
      - amount of vacation time
      - the type of clients you would be working with
      - the location of the company
      - career growth opportunity
      - the size of your new team
      - the company's reputation
      - overall workplace culture.

      Talk to the interviewer about other factors that are important to you when considering a new job. If you are not sure on details for this role, you can ask!

      Written by Rachelle Enns

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  • 9.

    What is the most amount of money you have ever earned? Why did you leave that position?

      How to Answer

      The interviewer is asking about your most lucrative position because they want to gauge if you are going to be happy with the amount of money earned in this role. Sometimes we will go backward in our career as far as compensation is concerned, and that is okay, but a considerable compensation gap will be a red flag to an interviewer. A decline in salary could be due to an economic crisis, layoffs, self-employment, or for geographical reasons. Talk to the interviewer about your most significant earnings and reinforce your current compensation ask.

      *It is important to note that this question may be illegal, depending on your geographical location.

      Written by Rachelle Enns on September 4th, 2020

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  • 10.

    Will you be willing to take a salary cut?

      How to Answer

      Hopefully, this question is being asked of you upfront, and not during your second or third interview. Depending on the interview stage, your answer may vary.

      Salary negotiation is real and sometimes an intimidating topic for interviewees, primarily if you have not yet established a sense of trust and rapport with the interviewer. Are you interviewing for a position that you know pays less than what you currently earn? Maybe the selling factor is that there will be less time to commute, weekends off and more time with your family, or less responsibility and decreased stress. Sometimes these reasons mean more to you than the bottom line.

      Written by Rachelle Enns

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