Those Awkward Conversations About Salary

It’s always the most awkward point of any job interview; that bit at the end when the interviewer asks you if you have any questions, and you want to broach the subject of how much they’re intending to pay you. Brits are notoriously reluctant to discuss what they’re earning so phrases like “competitive salary” or “salary commensurate to age and experience” might not mean very much. So what’s the best way to work out how much the salary might be?

Hourly rates, Banding and Pay Scales

Sometimes all it takes to find out what you’ll be earning is a quick internet search. National minimum wage, living wage and pay scales for jobs in the public sector are published widely online so you should be able to find that information without too much difficulty. Banding details for jobs in local government or the NHS are also online. If you have little or no experience in the position you’re applying for, it’s safe to assume that you’ll start at the bottom of the pay band. More experienced workers may be able to secure a slightly higher salary.

Research Online

If the job you’re applying for doesn’t have a set rate or band, then you’ll have to be cleverer in your research. There are a number of online salary checkers where you can input the job title and your location, and a salary range will be suggested. You can also look at other job adverts to see what the typical salary is for the role, or ask anonymously in online forums. Remember that it’s important to consider the package as a whole rather than purely the salary; extras like more holiday, a company car or private medical insurance might be worth as much as a few thousand extra on your base salary.

Wait for them to Ask

Often, interviewers will ask you what sort of expectations you have around salary in order to make sure you’re both on the same page. If you’ve done your homework, you’ll know roughly what sort of salary range you can expect to earn for the role. Think about what you’re earning now, and if the new role involves extra responsibility then it’s fair to expect a bit more. Always answer this type of question with a range, so say “Between £35k and £40k” or similar rather than stating a set figure. Leave room for discussions and negotiation.

Leave it to the Second Interview

Most experts advise leaving any direct questions about salary to the second interview. By that point, the employers are fairly serious about hiring you, and consider you a good candidate. Before you get to the question of the money, make sure you’ve covered why you’d be great at the job and how your experience relates to the company and the position on offer. Be confident about your abilities, and try to justify why you’re worth the money. Very few private companies have no flexibility at all over how much they pay people, so it’s always worth pitching for a higher salary if you can justify it.