If you’ve been called for an interview, you can expect employers to ask many tricky questions, and the salary expectations question will surely be one of them.

This is a very common interview question that employers primarily ask to check whether you fit their budget.

Mentioning what your salary expectations are can be tedious, but it’s important to know your worth so you don’t accept offers that are below your experience and qualifications. There are many factors you need to consider for your answers, such as your living expenses, personal needs, and experience level.

To help you out, we’ve created this guide on how to answer “What are your salary expectations?” and why employers ask this question. We’ve also included our examples and tips to help you nail the answer! Let’s dive in!

Key Takeaways

  • Employers ask for your salary expectations because they want to know whether your requirements fit with their budget and whether you price yourself correctly.
  • Before answering the question, it’s a good idea to do some research on the market, get insight of the average salary, as well as take your personal needs into consideration.
  • Rather than giving one specific number, it’s best to give a range for your salary expectations to leave room for negotiation.

Why Employers Ask for Salary Expectations?

There are a few major reasons why employers ask you for your salary expectations:

  • They already have a budget in mind. Employers have established a specific amount they want to pay you, and they want to check whether your requirements fit with theirs. If they notice that a lot of interviewees have given a higher amount than what they’ve planned, the employers can then discuss raising the salary and budget for the position with the HR.
  • They want to know if you value your work. The number one thing is to never sell yourself short. You should know how much your work is worth and express it confidently. To get a gist of the market value, you can combine your experience level and additional career achievements.
  • They want to grasp your professional level. If you’re a senior, you will most likely ask for a higher amount than younger candidates. On the other hand, if you answer with a lower amount, the interviewers might assume that your experience level is lower than the job requirements.

Determine Your Salary Expectations salary expectations

Before you answer the question, it’s a good idea to determine your salary expectations. Employers will either ask you to mention a specific number or, in other cases, they will mention one and ask you how you feel about it.

In some cases, it might be better to skip the question until later. However, the employer might think that you are purposefully avoiding the answer, which, in turn, may lead to a bad first impression. So, prepare a specific number beforehand, and get ready to discuss it with the employer during your interview.

The salary interview question can be phrased in a number of ways, and you can, therefore, approach the answer differently as well.

Let’s explore a few ways that you can do that.

Market Research

Before an interview, you should do some market research. Market research includes looking up the average salary that is usually paid for the position you’re applying for.

You can start the market research by looking up the title of your position, the location, and then including your experience level in the query. This will give you an estimate of the average salary you should expect.

You can also use an online search tool like Glassdoor to check what others are getting paid in this position.

Ask Through Network

Another way to get an idea of how much you should expect is to ask people in your network what their salaries are.

The best way to do this is by asking multiple people to get a better estimate and manage your salary expectations.

Determine Personal Needs

Last but not least, the most important thing when it comes to salary expectations is to determine how much you personally need. Here, it’s a good idea to calculate all of your living expenses and determine what amount would enable you to live comfortably.

To get a ballpark for your salary expectations, you should include this in the equation:

  • Apartment hunting
  • Paying for car installments
  • Transport expenses
  • Healthcare payments

Consider all of these factors beforehand to prepare your response. Stay confident in your answer, and under no circumstances accept a salary that can’t cover your basic expenses.

Salary Expectations Answer Strategies

There are a few ways to formulate your salary expectation response:

Provide a Range

If you’re not set on a specific number for your salary expectation, you can provide a range instead. Remember to keep the range as high as possible since employers can use this to offer you a lower number than you deserve.

It’s a good idea to keep your range difference between $5,000 and $10,000. For example, you can say that you’re looking for a job that pays from $95,000 to $105,000.

Additionally, a specific number for your salary expectations can limit the opportunity to discuss it with the company. Giving a salary range instead shows that you are flexible and are ready to find a middle ground with the employer.

Delay the Question

If you’re still learning what kind of money a certain position entails, you might find it difficult to formulate your salary expectations. In this context, it’s a good idea to delay the question and disclose this information later in the interview process.

This way, you can mention that the salary is important to you, but that you appreciate the opportunity to work for the employer more and that you can discuss the salary expectations later on.

However, do not use this strategy as a way to disguise your interview anxiety. Keep your needs and expectations in mind, always stay confident, and don’t accept offers that are too low just because you need the job.

A quick reminder: the company needs you and your help. That’s why it’s important to let employers know that you need to get paid properly for the work you will do.

Flip the Question

Another good way is to flip the question. Ask your employers, “What salary range are you offering?” in order to shift the responsibility to them.

The employer will then answer the question and wait for you to say whether you accept the salary or not. This strategy allows you to adjust your expectations to their budget. If the range matches what you expected, then you’re all set. However, if it’s something lower, be prepared to discuss it.

If, for example, the employer mentions that the job is currently paying around $60,000 but you were expecting a bit higher, you can say, “I was expecting to be paid in the $70,000 to $75,000 range, but I am willing to negotiate with you.”

You can justify your requirements by mentioning the 401(k) and PTO benefits that you want to be paid for.

Tips For Communicating Salary Expectations Two girls are sitting at a table, having a conversation, but we can only see the back of one of the girls' heads

Let’s look at some tips for communicating your salary expectations easily:

#1. Be Prepared

You are bound to hear this question in your interview, so it’s a good idea to prepare with sample answers. Research the industry beforehand and take your living costs into consideration. If you don’t prepare before your interview, chances are you will accept a lower offer than what you deserve.

#2. Be Realistic

Know your worth, but also know your experience level. It’s important to get paid for your worth, but it’s best to be realistic with your demands. Avoid pitching a salary that is much higher than the average for a given industry in your region.

#3. Be Confident

Although your answer is important, the way you answer will contribute to a good impression as well. Stay confident in your answer because this will demonstrate that, even though you’re willing to negotiate the salary, you will not accept less than what your work deserves to be paid.

#4. Be Honest

It’s important to stay truthful in your answer and mention the jobs and experiences you’ve really had beforehand. Employers nowadays are very likely to do a background check on you, and if they find out that you were lying, they will most certainly not get back to you.

The same strategy works for your salary as well. Your salary expectations should go hand in hand with your experience level.

#5. Explain Your Reasoning

You don’t need to provide a lot of details on how you’ve come to your salary expectations; however, it’s always a good idea to give a reason why you expect that amount. Mention your experience and education, as well as the fact that you have done research on the average salary for the position.

Salary Expectations Sample Answers

Let’s look at some salary expectations answer examples that you can use to prepare:

#1. Sample Answer

Although my salary expectations are flexible, I do want to mention that I have considerable experience working in sales. I believe that my experience warrants my salary expectations. I will gladly discuss this amount with you while explaining in detail what I can bring to the company.

Why this is a good answer: Showing that you’re ready to discuss the salary based on your experience is a great way to delay answering the question. This way, the employer will probably tell you what they’re offering instead.

#2. Sample Answer

I am curious to learn more about the salary expectations of this internship that you offer. However, I’ve researched internship salaries online, and I am expecting a range of $A to $B.

Why this is a good answer: This answer shows the employer that you know what similar companies in your region pay for this position.

#3. Sample Answer

I’m ready to negotiate the salary expectations for the part-time job with you and what you believe is fair for this position. However, after doing some research, I’ve seen that the average salary ranges from $A to $B. I will gladly discuss this range with you.

Why this is a good answer: It’s always important to showcase your readiness to discuss the salary while still remaining confident in your answer.

#4. Sample Answer

I am striving to get paid fairly for my work experience and my qualifications. However, I am ready to be flexible and discuss a more specific range with you together.

Why this is a good answer: With this answer, you can show that you are qualified for the job and expect to be paid for your experience while still being open to discussing salary expectations with the employer.

Final Thoughts

There’s no reason for you to worry about answering salary related questions in your interview. Just stay confident in your answer and leave space for discussing your exact salary, as your goal should be to reach the middle ground between your and the company’s requirements.

Make sure to follow our interview tips and tricks to help you prepare for the next time you go to your interview. Keep your worth in mind, but also stay truthful in your answer because inflating your accomplishments can backfire tremendously.

Remember that there are other options out there for you as well. If the salary is too low and you’re unable to negotiate it, you don’t have to accept the job just because you need it. You deserve to be paid in order to live a comfortable life. So, never sell yourself too short.