What is your salary?

The way you answer this question in a job interview will tell the interviewer a few things: How transparent are you? How confident are you? How well can you sell yourself? Are you really getting paid according to what your CV says? Are you aligned to the market? Can we afford you? Are you underpaid? Basically, are you worth it? The interviewer basically wants to get out of you this: your current salary and your desired salary.

The best thing to do is to prepare this question before your job interview by doing your homework. Find out by contacting your HR/social security or union or university alumni, and get the barèmes in your industry/years of experience and diploma? Also, use websites likes VDAB, FOREM (government assisted job boards in your own country) and use private job boards like https://www.averagesalarysurvey.com/belgium, www.glassdoor.com or www.payscale.com to learn more about the scale and salaries inside the company for which you are applying. Do a comparison with your own salary package.

Contact potential future colleagues or friends working in those places and ask them, “can I have your advice, I’m applying for a job inside your company and want to be well prepared for my job interview. What are the salaries in this department for this role, at this level?” Most corporations have standards. They are consistent.

If…

Market salary is higher than your current salary,(and you have been with your company less than 3 years), don’t mention your salary in the interview….you can say this instead:

“I would prefer to align myself to your current budget and package as you deem professional and in accordance with your HR and compensation/benefits policies.”

Market salary is close to your current package, (and you have been with your curent employer for 3 years or less), you can then respond like this:

“I’m currently earning _____________ and would like to keep this same standard as much as possible to be in accordance with my current standard of living and expenses. A raise is always appreciated if possible.”

Market salary is higher than what you are currently earning, (and you have been with your current employer for 3 years or more), you can then respond like this:

“I am currently earning _____________ . I desire a small increase, 10% as it’s been now a few years that I’ve been with my current company.”

If you are changing jobs after 5 years of being with the same company, you can ask for 15% increase in wage…..and after 10 years of being with the same company, you can go up to 20%. This is often the case simply because of inflation and your salary has probably fallen behind the market rates after so many years…..unfortunately, the legal barèmes (small legal salary increases in accordance with social law), don’t usually follow the economy.

Market salary is lower than your current package, you can respond like this:

“To be honest, my current package is higher than that…however, I’m really motivated by this position and your organisation. I would be grateful if you could align my salary to at least my current cost of living and salary which is ________________.”

If you look down, blunder, get red or speak softly, those are usually signs that you are not confident enough to think you are worth that 10% raise. So be very careful and practice this part of the interview well, to ensure that your next move is well worth it! You deserve it. The worse thing you can do is hold back all information. You will not get hired.

To keep it simple, you can always say this:

“At my last job, this is what I was earning. Today, I would like 5% raise” (if you work less than 3 years at your current company, 10% raise if you work more than 3 years and 15% percent if you work more than 5 years). But, be careful, as you don’t want to lose your chances of not getting hired because you are way above or below the budget (this shows you are not up to par for the role).

Good Luck.

Erica Elias is a certified business and career coach (www.interviewnow.be) and has interviewed more than 6,000 people, with www.mindworks.be. She is also an author and her books can be found on these links: https://www.diekeure.be/nl-be/professional/1434/recruitment-a-z and https://www.amazon.com/Interviewing-Global-Economy-Multinational-Corporation/dp/147833536X

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