3 Ways To Effectively Answer The Salary Expectations Question

Here’s how to prepare yourself when questioned on your salary expectations for a new job. By Aisling O’Toole.

Up there with “Why don’t you tell us about yourself?”, the salary expectation question is one of the trickiest interview curveballs to handle at a job interview.

If you go too low you run the risk of underpricing yourself compared to colleagues at the same level, but if you go too high, you run the risk of pricing yourself out of the role entirely.

You can answer a question about your salary expectations by turning it into an opportunity to showcase your skill set, and open the conversation to non-financial benefits. To do that effectively, follow the three-step approach below.

1.   Respond with a stock answer

Having a stock answer to this question is the best way to ensure you don’t fluff it and end up throwing the rest of the interview. Remember, it’s okay to not give a definitive answer either.

You can explain that you’d rather hear a little more about the expectations that come with the job so you understand what’s expected of you. Or, you can state what your previous salary was and explain you’d like to earn a little higher than that, but you understand salary is not the only element of the compensation package.

2.   Redirect the conversation

Instead of refusing to answer in case you get it wrong, redirect the question. You can ask what the budget is for the role, which puts the ball back in the interviewers court, and may give you some useful extra information.

Also ask about non-financial benefits. In addition to giving you an overview of the entire package given to the successful candidate, this approach also gives you a chance to gain insight into the company culture.

Is flexible working an option for staff? Does the company offer pension contributions or healthcare cover? Is there an opportunity for overtime and or annual increments? It’s important you understand your bottom line in relation to non-financial benefits before you start.

3.   Research the industry

Find out what the going rate is for professionals with your experience in your sector. What is the supply and demand level––is the labour market for your skills super tight? If so, you might be in a position to negotiate a higher salary.

Browsing job boards is the best way to get an understanding of the industry, and you can see which companies are hiring, and for what positions. The Professional Beauty Job Board is full of industry-leading beauty companies hiring for roles across all experience levels. Below, you’ll find three companies hiring right now.


One of Australia’s biggest salon chains, Hairhouse is recruiting for a variety of positions across the country with opportunities available for hair stylists, body piercers and management. Available roles include First, Second and Third Year Apprentice at Campbelltown, Store Manager at the Canberra salon and a Qualified Hairdresser at Elizabeth. Hairhouse offers ongoing training and upskilling for all staff members and provides opportunities to progress towards management for those looking to progress their careers. Browse all available opportunities at Hairhouse.


When it comes to industry leaders across the retail space it doesn’t get much bigger than Sephora, and the company is currently hiring for a number of roles across Australia. Available roles include Department Manager at Sephora’s Campbelltown branch, Makeup Artist in Sydney and Retail Staff in Melbourne. Beauty professionals working at Sephora get to take advantage of continued professional training and a chance to contribute to the success of a worldwide brand. See all available jobs at Sephora.

The Estée Lauder Companies

Beauty giant The Estée Lauder Companies owns brands including MAC, Jo Malone and Le Labo and is currently recruiting for a number of roles across Australia for all brands. Jobs include MAC retail makeup artists in Perth and Melbourne, Le Labo sales assistant in Sydney and Jo Malone counter staff in Perth, as well as dozens of other opportunities. The Estée Lauder Companies provide staff with opportunities for continued progression, industry training and an opportunity to work with one of the world’s biggest beauty brands. Discover lots more opportunities at The Estée Lauder Companies.

Browse The Professional Beauty Job Board, and explore all available job opportunities

This article was produced in partnership with Jobbio.

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