How to determine the salary range you should ask for in an interview

Business people shaking hands.
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If you want to develop your career then you'll have to go to job interviews – and that, in turn, means talking about money.

That's often an awkward subject, but it doesn't have to be. If you do your research and prepare before any interview, you'll know the kind of salary range you deserve, and you can use that to leverage better results during your negotiations.

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Not sure where to begin? Don't worry. We'll take you through the steps you should take if you need to determine the salary range you should use in your next interview. Follow this guide and you'll be able to confidently ask for more cash – and get it, too.

Need more interview advice? Don't fret about that, either. Head here to read about the five vital communication skills you need to master, or read our ultimate guide to answering behavioral interview questions.

Do your research

Before you head to your interview you need to spend some time with facts and figures – because activity elsewhere in the job market will be a big factor when it comes to the numbers that you present to your prospective employers.

Sites like Glassdoor, Indeed and Monster collect loads of salary data, and you should use this information to influence your salary requirements. If your chosen job site has a salary hub, you'll be able to see the kinds of cash that relevant jobs command in different companies, industries and locations – all factors that can have a big impact on salary fluctuations.

Study those numbers and you can start to figure out what other people earn in similar jobs, and that's a big factor when it comes to developing an accurate salary range that won't get you laughed out of the interview.

Look elsewhere on those job sites, too. By scouring job adverts in your industry or from the company in question, you may glean insights about the cash available in similar roles – and when it comes to creating a salary range, knowledge is power.

Don't just restrict your research to salary calculators and job sites, either. If you've got people in your professional network and you know you can talk to them about financial issues, get in touch. If you know people in a similar job to your prospective position you can ask them about the salary ranges they recommend. This is especially helpful if you're moving industries or regions, because those big changes can significantly affect salary amounts.

Know your worth

Creating a salary range isn't just about evaluating what other people in your industry are paid – you've got to be a bit selfish and think about yourself, too.

Think about how much you earn in your current job, and include any bonuses in that figure. That's a good starting point because you'll want a solid earnings bump if you're applying to a new position.

Consider what benefits you have in your current job and the perks and benefits that your potential new employer can offer, too. If the new job has particularly great benefits, you may feel comfortable adopting a slightly lower salary range to balance that out – but if the benefits aren't particularly enticing, you could go the other way.

In a similar vein, think about the differences in any pensions between your old job and your potential new position, and think about any extra cash you might need to spend on a longer commute – those aspects can all influence your salary calculations.

Think about your lifestyle, too. You know what you need to earn to cover you and your family's bills and expenses – and to have cash left over to enjoy yourself. Your salary range should also provide enough cash for you to save for expensive purchases or emergency costs.

Don't give an exact number

Your final figure should form a range rather than an extra number, because that gives you and your potential employer room for negotiation and compromise.

That bodes well when you're trying to find an accord with a new business, and it's a great chance to show off your research. If you get the chance during the interview, you can illustrate the industry-wide and regional trends that have helped you determine your range alongside the personal factors that contribute to the figures you've presented.

Ultimately it's about creating a range that reflects your abilities, gives you a boost over your previous job, pays you enough to live your life and makes sense given the job, industry and region. And while that's not easy, if you put the work in beforehand you'll turn up to the interview with appropriate figures.

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Mike has worked as a technology journalist for more than a decade and has written for most of the UK’s big technology titles alongside numerous global outlets. He loves PCs, laptops and any new hardware, and covers everything from the latest business trends to high-end gaming gear.