What are your salary expectations? During the interview process, employers can bring up the subject of salary. Recruiters can ask this question during an initial phone interview, or they can wait until you meet in person before discussing salary. You can be asked directly about your pay expectations, on an application form, or in response to an employer’s pre-determined compensation range.
While one of the most obvious questions companies ask during a job interview is about your pay expectations, discussing money can be uncomfortable. You can reduce your tension by planning ahead of time how you will respond to salary-related inquiries. You can have constructive and informed salary talks with potential employers if you investigate typical remuneration for both the position and your experience level.
Why employers ask about salary expectations
There are three reasons why an employer would inquire about your pay expectations:
They have a budget
They’ve set aside money for this. The interviewer wants to make sure your salary expectations match the amount they’ve estimated for the position. If they discover that the majority of candidates are asking for far more than expected, they can need to propose a bigger budget for the post.
They need to gauge your worth
They’re trying to figure out how much you know about yourself. A good applicant understands the market value of their talent and can confidently convey it. Consider your level, years of experience, and professional accomplishments when determining your market worth.
And determine if you know your worth
They’re looking to see if you’re at the right professional level. A candidate who requests a considerably greater salary than other applicants can be too senior for the position. Alternatively, responding with a modest pay expectation might suggest that you have less experience than the position demands.
Your response to this question might be the start of a wage negotiation. As a consequence, you’ll want to make sure your response is well-researched.
How to research job salaries
When answering a question about your desired pay, it’s critical to offer not just a number that seems right, but the proper remuneration for the position based on real statistics. Fortunately, finding this information is now simpler than ever.
Keep in mind that salaries differ not just by job title and business, but also by region. When determining the average compensation range for a position, keep in mind the location of the employment and the cost of living in the area. A job in a major metropolis like Los Angeles, for example, is likely to pay more than a job in rural Texas. Make sure to choose the location from the drop-down option when utilizing Indeed Salaries.
To get a free, tailored salary range based on your region, industry, and experience, use Indeed’s Salary Calculator. You can also utilize Indeed Salaries to figure out what the average salary is for the job you’ve applied for.
Furthermore, Indeed Company Reviews covers wages reported by current and past employees per company. Searching for job titles on Indeed Job Search can also give you an indication of what other companies are paying for comparable positions—salary information is included in 75% of new jobs listed directly on Indeed.
PayScale offers a number of solutions to assist in learning about a fair salary range for a variety of job titles and geographies. Search by the desired or upcoming interview’s job title and location. Compensation expectations should be determined based on those results.
Pro tip: Avoid salary negotiation at this stage. Inform the manager of your desired salary for the position and use this as a starting point. Negotiations should happen only after receiving the formal job offer from the company.
Similarly to PayScale, Salary.com offers a number of free resources to gather information regarding current salary ranges for a number of job titles. Determining a reasonable salary range should get checked against multiple resources.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics provides helpful resources on nearly every job sector and job title. Inside these resources contains helpful insights regarding common salaries, job outlook, and other key figures that can assist when you decide to discuss salary expectations with an employer.
Pro tip: Always base your future salary expectations on your current or previous salary. Add 5-8% in an annual salary to determine the appropriate “raise” you should give yourself in this new job. If you’re unsure of this figure, seek career advice from a professional friend in the field.
How to answer salary expectation questions
There are a few ways to respond when a recruiter or hiring manager asks, “What are your pay expectations?”
Here are a few ideas, along with sample responses:
Give a range
If you don’t feel comfortable giving a single figure, you can instead provide a range. However, keep in mind that the employer can choose the lower end of your range, so make sure your goal number is as near to the lowest as feasible. Also, keep your range narrow, with no more than $5,000 to $10,000 in pay.
“I’m looking for a job that pays between $75,000 and $80,000 per year,” for example.
There can be other advantages, bonuses, or types of remuneration that you value just as much as your income. It’s also feasible to include these as potential bargaining points. While the firm can not have budgeted enough for your preferred pay range, the employer can be prepared to provide stock in the company to make the compensation package more appealing to you.
“I am looking for a position that pays between $75,000 and $80,000 per year, but I am willing to negotiate salary based on perks, bonuses, equity, stock options, and other opportunities,” for example.
Deflect the question
If you’re still early in the hiring process and understanding the nature of the job tasks and expectations, you might want to defer the inquiry until later. Keep in mind, though, that you’ll have to talk about pay expectations at some point. Even if you’re still factoring in new information, it’s a good idea to be prepared with a well-researched number in mind.
“Before I respond, I’d like to ask a few additional questions to gain a better understanding of the position. As a result, I’ll be able to set a more reasonable expectation.”
Pro tip: Hiring managers appreciate the level of research you provide in your answer. Use multiple sources of salary information to gather your salary requirements. And inform the hiring manager of this research while delivering your response to the interview question.
Example answers for, “What are your salary expectations?”
Sample answers providing a current salary, salary range, or fair salary prediction for a job title when asked, “What are your salary expectations?”
“While I am willing to be flexible, I am seeking for a salary of $85,000 to $89,000 per year.” This is a comfortable and suitable range for my job, based on my skillset and experience level.”
“My base salary need is $97,500. My remuneration expectations are supported by the value and knowledge I can provide to this job. Is this something you’ve considered?”
“Let me begin by expressing my gratitude for the advantages my employment provides, such as excellent paid time off and health insurance. As a result, I estimate my yearly compensation for this role to be between $43,000 and $52,000. My extensive experience in customer services, particularly in this area, can help to improve the organization.”
“An annual pay of $62,000 to $73,000, in my opinion, is in line with the industry norm and adequately represents my abilities and experience level. I am, however, willing to be flexible and learn about the company’s salary expectations for this position.”
Tips for answering
Sharing salary information with an interviewer can be awkward, especially if you’re not used to being asked this question and are talking about your desired pay for the first time.
Here are a few more suggestions to help the conversation go smoothly and ensure you earn a fair wage:
Once you’ve determined the typical wage range for a position, think about increasing your expectations. Employers will, in most circumstances, start you at the lower end of the range you offer. By aiming higher, you can ensure that you will meet your target number even if they give the lowest one. Don’t claim you’re seeking a salary between $50,000 and $60,000 if you want to make $55,000. Give a range of $55,000 to $60,000 instead.
Some companies are interested in both the content and delivery of your response. If you’re confident and self-assured, it’ll indicate that you know what you’re worth and that, while you’re willing to negotiate, you won’t settle for less than you feel you deserve. If you try to go forward by selling yourself short, you could wind up generating too little money.
While you don’t have to go into great depth about how you got at your pay expectations, it doesn’t harm to clarify how you arrived at that figure. Highlighting your expertise or educational level might help justify your pay, especially if you’re going for a higher income than the norm in your area. Make sure you don’t go overboard with the quantity, otherwise you’ll be deemed overqualified.
Here’s an example of how to put this advice into practice:
“For a professional with my level of expertise, the average compensation for this position in this region is between $120,000 and $135,000, therefore that would be my salary expectation for this role.”
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