How to Answer Salary Expectations

How to Answer Salary Expectations

5 min read
How to Answer Salary Expectations During a job int

During a job interview, one question that can trip up many candidates is, "What are your salary expectations?" It's a tricky question because your answer could determine whether you get the job.

If you give a low number, you might end up being paid less than you deserve. On the other hand, if you ask for too much, you could potentially eliminate yourself from consideration.

This article will offer effective strategies and tips on how to handle the challenging question of salary expectations. I'll delve into various approaches you can take to answer the question, from redirecting the conversation to presenting a salary range. These strategies will help you communicate your desired compensation in a professional and diplomatic way.

Furthermore, we’ll discuss the significance of conducting thorough salary research before the interview. Knowing the industry standards and average salaries for similar positions will help you negotiate your desired pay more effectively.

Firstly, why would you be asked, "What are your salary expectations?"

Depending on the stage of the interview process, the interviewer may be asking this question for different reasons. If it's an early-stage interview, they may be using it to eliminate candidates who are outside their budget. If it's a later-stage interview, they may actually be interested in accommodating your compensation expectations. But whatever the reason, the goal is to give them an answer to the question without saying anything that will get you eliminated.

By following the below tips, you’ll be able to confidently navigate this tricky question and move on to the next stage of the interview process.

Before the interview

To really get a feel for what you could be earning, it's important to do some salary research beforehand. This will help you understand the market value of your skills and experience and give you a realistic range to work with when answering "What are your salary expectations?”

You can start by looking at reputable sources like Glassdoor or Indeed, which provide information on average salaries for different positions.

TIP: It's crucial not to fixate on a specific figure but instead focus on sharing a chosen salary range with a rationale behind it. 

Strategies for responding during the interview

When you're at the beginning of the interview process, it's crucial to provide an answer that won't disqualify you from consideration. So, here are some tactics you can utilise if you're in the early stages of the interview process:

Redirect the question and conversation

One strategy is to redirect the conversation by emphasising your interest in the position and discussing how your skills and experience align with the job requirements. You could say:

“Currently, my priority is to secure a suitable role that aligns with my skills and experience, rather than focusing solely on the salary. I’m keen to discuss how I can contribute to the organisation before discussing salary”

You can also redirect the conversation by asking for more details about the company and role. Here's a suggestion:

"At this point, I would need to know more details about the role before giving an accurate answer.”


“I would like to gain more insights into the job, the organisation, and the comprehensive benefits offered, that way I can provide you with a more realistic expectation.”

It's understandable that providing evasive responses during an interview can make you and the interviewers feel uncomfortable, as it may seem like you're avoiding the question. However, this strategy can be beneficial, as the key here is to avoid providing a specific number that may eliminate you from the race.

Answer the question with a question

If the interviewer presses you further for a number, try asking about the approved salary range for the position that way, you’ll know their expectations. You could say something like:

"Could you please provide more information about the salary range for this position?”


“At this point in the process, I don't have a clear enough understanding of the role to accurately determine my worth. However, I would appreciate it if you could provide me with the budgeted salary range.”

If the offered salary range is higher than what you anticipated, that's good news! Show your enthusiasm and proceed with the interview. However, if the salary range is lower than what you had hoped for, we suggest negotiating to ensure you receive fair compensation. Don't simply accept any offer because you feel like you need the job, as this will lead to dissatisfaction in the long run.

You could continue the interview with the following:

“Thanks for that information. If the job is offered to me, would there be any possibilities for negotiation?”

Or, if you want to be more specific, you could say:

"I'm not sure if I can accept a salary lower than $XXX, based on my experience and current pay. Can you tell me if there's any room for negotiation in the budget for this position?"

Provide a range

If they won't provide you with a salary range but still prompt you for a number, provide them with a wide range, as this demonstrates your flexibility and willingness to work with them.

At this stage, you can offer a salary range based on the research you did beforehand and say:

"Based on my research, I've seen that the market value for someone with my experience and skills ranges from $X to $Y, which I would be happy with”

This answer shows that you’ve done your homework and have a realistic understanding of the current market trends. If you’ve been in the industry for a while and want a salary that’s similar to your current one, you could say:

“Considering my experience and skills, I’m looking for somewhere between $XX and $XX annually.

Additionally, it's important to provide a reason for why you selected this range. For instance, you could explain that this range takes into account factors such as industry standards, cost of living in the area, and the responsibilities of the role.

Doing so shows that your salary expectations aren't arbitrary but rather logical.

Consider other benefits

When discussing compensation, it's important to remember that other factors beyond just the paycheck can significantly impact your overall job satisfaction and quality of life. Considering other benefits besides salary can help you make a more informed decision about your desired compensation. You could say:

“Based on the information I've gathered, it looks like your company offers some great perks like complimentary breakfasts and lunches, as well as an on-site gym which are fantastic benefits. These benefits could potentially allow for some flexibility with regards to salary.”


“As a parent, I noticed that your website offers childcare benefits. I am willing to be flexible with my salary for the right opportunity.”

Being Prepared and Confident

Whatever strategy you choose when answering "What are your salary expectations?", feeling fully prepared and exuding unwavering confidence is crucial.

Doing your research beforehand is important, gathering information about industry norms and salaries for similar positions. This will help you establish a realistic salary range and explain why you've chosen it. Always check Joberty's Salary page beforehand.

Additionally, practicing your response can help boost your confidence and ensure that you convey your message effectively.

Remember to focus not only on the salary but also on other benefits that are important to you, such as healthcare or professional development opportunities.

By being prepared and confident, you can easily navigate the salary expectations question and leave a positive impression on the interviewer.

[10:27 AM]