What are your salary expectations? How to answer

What Are Your Salary Expectations? How To Answer

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What are your salary expectations? is one of the most common job interview questions and, at the same time, one that candidates dread a lot.

While knowing how to answer job interview questions, situational questions and overall preparing for a job interview are equally important, this question is among the most important ones, as it will drive the conversation in your favor or against you.

Not knowing how to answer What are your salary expectations? can either cost you a job offer or it can get you one that will not meet your financial requirements or experience.

Why do hiring managers ask “What are your salary expectations”?

The main reason why hiring managers ask this job interview question is that they want to make sure that your expectations fit their budget.

With every job opening, any company allocates a budget.

By asking this question, hiring managers or HR managers want to make sure that they are not wasting their time interviewing you if your salary expectations exceed their budget.

Another reason is that they want to see how do you value your experience and if you have realistic expectations or not. 

While you might be surprised, going under what their budget is, will not necessarily get you the job, as the last thing employers want is for someone to want the job, being driven purely by money because they are in need.

This signals that the first opportunity you will have to make more money, you will take it and leave.

Therefore, it is crucial to do your research before attending the job interview, to get an idea about the market and the average salary for the position you will be interviewing for.

What are your salary expectations?

What does it mean when an employer asks “What are your salary expectations”?

If you are being asked this question it usually is a good sign.

It means that the hiring manager considers you as a good candidate and wants to move to the next stage of the job interview but, of course, before doing that it’s important to know what your salary expectations are.

How to answer “What are your salary expectations?”

Usually, it’s best to avoid throwing a figure, unless you are comfortable doing it and only if you are sure you understand exactly what the role requirements are and what is expected of you.

Sample answer

“Before stating my salary expectations, I would like to have a better understanding of what is expected from the person taking the job. Also, I would need to know the exact job description of the role and, as well what is the career path for such a role in this company.”

After all your questions are answered and you are comfortable with the information you have in hand you can answer something along these lines:

“Now that I understand the job requirements and taking my experience into consideration, according to the market, such a role pays between 45K to 50K, which is what my salary expectations are as well, should I get the job.”

As mentioned above, you need to make sure you have conducted good market research before attending the job interview in order for your expectations to be realistic. You can use Payscale to perform research on average salaries in your city or region.

At the same time, according to what the average salary is in the market, you want to align your expectations in order not to under or over evaluate yourself.

A good tip is to place your expected salary at the lower end of the brackets that you are planning to mention during the interview.

For example, if you are expecting to make 50K per year you should say “I’m expecting an annual salary between 50K to 56K.

This way, no matter what, your salary expectations will be met, that is if, of course, they are also aligned with the market.

You can continue if you wish by saying:

“What is your allocated budget for this position?”

This is an absolutely fair question. You are interviewing the company in the same way the company interviews you.

Always remember that employment is a 2-way street and you, as a candidate, also have a very strong say in it.

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Corina

Corina is a Digital Marketing Specialist with more than twelve years of experience. Having worked in nine countries, in different cultures and work environments, she is now on a mission to help millennials find their financial freedom.

12 Comments

      • Kimberlie

        This is still one of the most awkward parts of an interview for me. I dislike discussing salary expectations, but know the importance. Your tips are targeted and precise on how to answer this uncomfortable question with finesse.

        • Corina

          Everyone hates this question but it’s important to know how to answer “What are your salary expectations?”. Thanks, Kimberlie 🙂

  • Carolyn

    Great advice, as usual! Talking about money is so gauche in the US, to everyone’s detriment (especially women). It’s hard to talk about salary expectations, even in a job interview where it’s appropriate. I LOVE the idea of asking how much money is budgeted for the position. What a marvelous idea! Will definitely keep in mind when I renew my job search in the spring.

  • Adriana H Morao

    Hello 🙂

    Yes, this question is for sure one that’s always messy to answer because obviously you don’t want to fail and be fake. I mean how do i say I want X amount of money without sounding unprofessional. So this is good and it’s fair too.

    Thanks for the advice 🙂

  • Jackie Holen

    The best response is to say that you have done some research, and based on your understanding of the role and the location of the position, your expectations are in a range of X to Y. They will ask you if that’s “all in” (meaning base salary, benefits, bonus, etc.). You should include this in the range. Do not commit and do not undersell. If you are thinking $200k + and they are in the low $100s, it’s not the right role, period. However, you can always say that if an opening for a more experienced person opens up, you’d love to learn more. Ask to keep in touch. Follow up later to see if the position is still listed. If so, you can check back in and say “I noticed you haven’t filled that position. If you’re willing to consider hiring at a higher level and salary, I’d love to continue our conversation.”

  • Lori Parker

    Your answer is good for when you actually get an interview, but how about when you are just trying to get one?

    This question is asked on every job application that I fill out online. I would like to avoid it as I believe that it’s basically a way to weed out applicants, however the application will not allow me to go forward without filling in the spot.

    How do I answer that in my favor? I can’t put in a range.

    If I put in a number I feel like I am married to that number even if they might have been willing to pay more.

    If they aren’t willing to pay as much as I am asking, I don’t have a chance to sell my worth.

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