How to Answer the Salary Question When in an Interview: Nigerian Perspective

October 9, 2017 Michael Shabi 1 comment


How to Answer the Salary Question in an Interview: Nigerian Perspective


Have you ever been for an interview and the salary question just pops up. Gbam! You were puzzled and wondering how you will answer this question without being seen as greedy or cheated. This can be the trickiest question sometimes in an interview. Here, you seem to be in between the devil and the deep blue sea. “How will I answer this question aright?” You ask yourself.

Now, if you tell your interviewer an amount that seems to be outrageously more than the actual salary, many things may come to the interviewers mind. Perhaps, you are greedy or you will be seen as one who will be financially unsatisfied in the course of working with the firm. If you tell him or her an amount less than the actual salary, you may later discover in future that you are earning less than your contemporaries doing the same job. Then you may feel cheated.

Why the Salary Question is Tricky and Important

You may be wondering what the big deal about the salary question is; yet it’s one question that often stumps job candidates. Not only that, but it can change the climate of an interview from red hot to ice cold as a result of a few digits of difference in thinking. The reasons why companies do ask job candidates the salary question encompasses the following;

  1. Ultimately, company leaders and HR professionals want to know if they can afford you before they invest time and resources courting you to come to work for them.
  2. Some employers are bargaining hunters. Despite a general market value for certain positions, some companies place a bigger premium on certain positions than other companies. This means that the salary they expect to pay for a certain position may be lower or higher than the going rate.
  3. Another possible reason is that they’re trying to see how you value your work. Are you confident enough to ask for what you deserve or will you meekly accept whatever they offer?

The Basic Tip to Answer the Salary Question  

If you still develop cold feet when the salary question pops up in the course of an interview, it could be due to so many reasons. Most of these reasons could be eliminated by just this tip.

Research about the firm’s salary structure before the interview

It is very important you research about the salary structure and pay system of a firm before an interview. There are tens and in some cases hundreds of people competing with you for that particular job. So you must be able to present yourself to the interviewer in a way that will make him or her see you as knowledgeable about the firm in all ramifications and thus give you competitive edge. To get the salary structure of various job positions, just search for the salary using the company’s name, job title or location on MySalaryScale.

You could also inquire the salary structure from employees in the firm you intend to interview with.

In complement to the salary research, it is also important you study and do a deep research on the company’s interview likely questions and company’s culture. You can do this by reading companies review on MySalaryScale.

Note that your mission is to sell yourself and convince them of your worth to their organization before you reach the point of salary negotiations.

Strategies for Answering the Salary Question

  1. The Humility Style

This is the first strategy that is always encouraged to use when answering the salary question. This is because, you are trying to play on the interviewer’s sense of empathy and letting him take the lead. It’s more like stating that you are open to anything. But of course you should have inquired about the salary structure on MySalaryScale. Thus, the interviewer is forced to say the first figure. Then you can start bargaining from that standard to the actual rate you inquired about. Examples of answers here are;

  • “I’m more interested in finding a position that’s a good fit for my skills and interests. I’m confident that you’re offering a salary that’s competitive in the current market.”
  • “I’d like to ask what you typically pay someone with my experience and education in this type of position.”
  • “I’m sure whatever you offer will be a fair amount for a person with my qualifications. Salary is not the most important factor to me. I’m looking for opportunity.”
  1. Bargaining using the Market Rate

If you have inquired for the market rate of the job position using MySalaryScale or have gotten information from employees working in that firm, you should be able to answer the question almost accurately to what the interviewer thinks. Examples of answers here are;

  • “From the research that I have done, it appears that your firm pays around #80,000 to #95,000 for this job position. Is that the range you had in mind?”
  • “Based on my previous experience and education and the ‘going rate’ for this type of position, I would like to be paid around #150,000 to #170,000. Is that a range that fits with your compensation structure?”

Always end it with a question to the interviewer for feedback not to sound too certain.

  1. Answering the Question with another Question

It’s no news that a typical Nigerian answers a question with another question. But here, you must do it with great tact and courtesy. Examples of answers here are;

  • ‘I’m quite open and slightly flexible on salary as the opportunity to add value and to be valued is important to me. I’d appreciate knowing how you value this position and what your budget is for this role?’

The way you say this is very important. Say it with a smile on your face and raise your voice at the end of the sentence, so it seems like a question.

  • ‘I’d rather not commit to that quite yet. I’m really open to your thoughts on this as I’m sure you will be consistent with the market?’

Then pause. Just stop talking. By silencing yourself quite abruptly, you are forcing the other person to talk and it shows you are in control.

Again, you must do this in a very ‘upbeat’ way. We don’t want you to become defensive as this can sometimes come across as aggressive… not a good look

  1. State your previous Salary

Stating your previous salary even without answering directly could set a standard for the interviewer to base his or her decision on. For example;

  • “I was making #80,000 in my last job. I would like similar here also or like a 15 to 20 percent increase.”
  1. Other kind of Answers for the Salary Question

There are other different ways to answer the salary question in such a way to get positive results. Some of the other answers are as follows;

  • “I really need more information about the job before we start to discuss salary. I’d like to postpone that discussion until later. Maybe you could tell me what is budgeted for the position, and how your commission structure works.”
  • “I’m sure when the time comes and I know more about the facts of the position and how it fits into the bigger picture, we can come to a mutually agreeable figure.”
  • “I really need more information about the position before I can begin to discuss salary. Can you tell me the range budgeted for this position?”
  • “I would need to know more about your salary structure and how often you review salaries as well as your entire package before I could discuss salary ranges. Could you provide me with more information before we discuss this subject?”
  • “That would be like comparing two jobs that are entirely different in responsibilities and in the base and bonus structure. I would be more interested in hearing what the package you offer is, before I compare the two jobs. I hope we can postpone this subject until we both have more information to discuss salary and benefit comparisons.”
  • “I had an unusual situation at my last job where I took less salary to own a share of the company. I also had a bonus structure that I was receiving. I would have to look at the entire package that you offer before comparing the two jobs or salaries.”Courtesy: MySalaryScale

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