Continuing the employment series, Frontline Retail shares its insight into battling the issue of retail salary expectations.

No interview question has the power to make us quite as uncomfortable as the dreaded “what is your desired or expected salary?” The success of your answer relies on walking a tricky tightrope between confidence and humility.

The figure or salary range you give has to be high enough to show your self-belief, but low enough not to price you out of the market. So what do you need to consider when working out your retail salary expectations?

How competitive is the market?

It’s vital to do your homework and compare the range of salaries currently being offered for equivalent retail jobs.

A recruitment agency with specialist knowledge of the retail sector can be invaluable in helping you to arrive at an appropriate figure.

How much do you want this job?

If this is the job of a lifetime, be wary of pricing yourself out of the market.

Tell the interviewer that the job has all the elements you’ve been looking for to further your career, and suggest that salary can take second place to job opportunity.

Is your expected salary realistic?

Don’t overshoot with an exorbitant figure. The higher the salary, the more responsibility and initiative is generally expected within the job.

If you land the position, you could find yourself out of your depth and facing the pressure of delivering on targets you are not equipped to meet.

How much effort are you expected to put in?

Try and find out as much as you can about job responsibilities and work expectations, both before and during the interview.

Once you know the level of commitment and expertise expected of the candidate, it will give you a better idea of the salary that matches it.

Is a lower salary balanced by great benefits?

Job rewards come in different packages. Some retail jobs with great up-front salaries come with punishing hours, scanty holidays and demanding working conditions.

Research the company before the job interview, and see if it offers benefits like flexible hours, generous superannuation and extra holidays which can easily balance a salary in the lower range. 

Are you giving your prospective employer room to move?

It’s generally a good idea to present a salary range that gives both you and your employer wriggle room.

This way, you stay flexible without totally committing yourself, while your employer also has room to negotiate up and down if you seem like a good fit for the job.

Can you reframe the question?

It’s fine to tweak the question with a politician’s answer in the manner of “well, rather than talk about salary at this point, I’d love to tell you about my skills and experience” or “the salary is significant, but there are lots of other aspects of the job that are equally important to me.”

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