How To Answer “What Are Your Salary Expectations?”

By Chris Kolmar - Nov. 3, 2020

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So, you have finally made it through your interview. Everything is running smoothly until it all comes to a screeching halt.

The interviewer has just asked you one of the most dreaded questions during the hiring process:
What are your salary expectations?

Suddenly you panic and begin to wonder what would be the right way to answer this question. Always keep in mind that the hiring manager will be keeping a watchful eye on you and how you answer every single inquiry.

We know this question can feel awkward and overall uncomfortable. Many even feel as though it is a trick question. What if you pick a number that is too high and come off as if you are trying to take advantage of the situation? On the other hand, choosing a number that is too low might also risk showing that you lack confidence and self-worth. Hiring managers can tell a lot about a person by how they answer this question.

Before you begin to spiral, take a moment to breathe. This is not a difficult question to answer. You just have to make sure you are well prepared before your meeting. That way, you will be able to get a better idea of the salary you deserve.

When preparing for a job interview, you must consider every little detail, including your desired pay. It is only prudent for you to research the right salary for you and the position you are applying to. If you are currently working in the same position as the one you are applying to, you can use it as a reference when answering the employer’s question. Remember, always value your worth, hard work, and effort.

Here you will learn more about why interviewers ask this question and how to best handle the situation.

Why Do Employers Ask About Salary Expectations?

When you are put into this situation, keep in mind that the interviewer is merely trying to get some answers regarding who you are and how you see yourself.

Many interviewers ask about your salary expectations because their company already has a set budget for your desired position. Remember that business is all about supply and demand. An interviewer can determine whether the set budget for this position is too high or too low based on this question alone.

Asking for your desired salary can also help the interviewer determine your level of experience. If, for example, you say a salary that is considered to be on the lower end of the spectrum, a hiring manager might mistake you for being a novice and think that perhaps you need to gain a little more experience before you can be considered for the job.
On the other hand, if you choose a significantly higher than average salary, chances are they might think you are not on the right level required for this particular job and are over-qualified.

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Another alternative to why they might be asking this question is that they want to see if you know your own value. An applicant who has a good understanding of their skills and qualifications will execute any job with tremendous confidence.

Remember to ask for a salary based on your level of work, experience, and skills. Keep in mind that an interviewer will know the appropriate amount to pay an employee for the role they are applying to.

How To Search For The Right Salary For The Job?

Once you have decided on the career path you would like to pursue, the next thing for you to do is research the role and make sure you have a complete grasp of the job you want.

Your first instinct may be to use an online search engine. This will result in multiple webpages showing you, which is the average salary for your chosen profession. However, some might find this to be overwhelming.

Start by looking into our very own Career Research page here at Zippia. This page will help you explore the job market more efficiently. Our Career Research page offers you the opportunity to find your desired position, what salary is the best suited for it, how to tailor your resume, the skills that would be ideal for this role, and more.

When researching a salary, you must always remember that location plays a key role, as the old saying goes, “location, location, location.” For example, an anesthesiologist’s average salary from Nevada may be slightly lower than one you can find in New York. This can also be determined by looking at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

By doing the proper research, you will be able to use all of the information you have collected to formulate a well-informed decision about your salary expectation.

How To Answer Salary Expectations

Understandably, you might find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the idea of having questions in regards to your salary expectations. Keep in mind that you do not have to need to answer this question right away necessarily. Let the interviewer know that you would first like to go over the position even though you are interested in discussing salary.

You can always take a moment and delay answering this question until the very end of the interview. That way, you will have ample time to think about how to answer it while telling them about your skills, qualifications and why you would make an ideal candidate.

Another alternative is to turn the tables and let the interviewer know what they have in mind regarding your salary. Once you have a particular number in mind, ask the hiring manager what the company is willing to answer. By doing this, you can take the pressure off you and put it back on them.

If you cannot deflect the question for whatever reason, take a deep breath and calmly answer the question. One way to answer it is to provide the recruiter with a reasonable salary range. For example, you can tell them the following:

‘To answer your question, I am looking for a position that pays somewhere between $60,000 to $65,000 annually. I believe that this is what this position is currently going for, and it is the amount I am comfortable with.’

You can also add that you are open to negotiations, never close the door on an opportunity. If, for any reason, they do not initially see eye to eye with you, let them know that you have gone into the interview with an open mind and are willing to talk numbers.

‘I am looking for a position that pays somewhere between $60,000 to $65,000 annually. However, I am willing to negotiate once I hear the additional benefits you have to offer.’

How To Answer The Salary Expectation Via Email

Because of the current pandemic, doing business from home has become a common practice. Hiring managers are now turning to the world of telecommunication to carry out business meetings and even virtual interviews.

Some aspects of the business may even take place via email. Hiring managers might prefer to ask you to answer your salary expectations through electronic correspondence because of their busy schedules.

Here are a few examples that can help you determine which is the best way to answer your salary expectations.

Example # 1

Dear Mr./Ms. [ Surname],
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me [yesterday/today] about the [Name of Position] position at your company. I enjoyed our conversation and the opportunity to learn more about the position.

To answer your question, I am seeking a position that pays somewhere between $70,000 to $75,000 annually. I believe that this is what this position is currently going for, and it is the amount I am comfortable with.

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact me. Thank you again for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

[Your Name]
[You LinkedIn Profile]
[Your Email Address]
[Your Number]

Example # 2

Dear Mr./Ms. [ Surname],
I hope this finds you well. I appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak with me [the amount of time since you last spoke] about your company, and thank you for asking me about my salary expectations.

I am looking for a position that pays somewhere between $60,000 to $65,000 annually. However, I am willing to negotiate once I hear the additional benefits you have to offer.

I hope that we can meet soon to discuss this matter further at your earliest convenience. Thank you for your time and consideration.

[Your Name]
[You LinkedIn Profile]
[Your Email Address]
[Your Number]

Example # 3

Dear Hiring Manager,
Thank you again for taking the time to meet with me for dinner last night. I appreciate the gesture and enjoyed learning more about both the position of [Name of position].

To answer your questions regarding my salary, I am seeking a position that pays within the range of 50,000 to 55,000. From what I have gathered, this is the average salary for this role. Please keep in mind that I am willing to negotiate the terms, considering the benefits that would be included as part of the job.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

[Your Name]
[You LinkedIn Profile]
[Your Email Address]
[Your Number]

Final Thoughts

When deciding on which would be the best salary for you and the work you do, always remember to show your worth. If, in your current position, you feel as though you are being underpaid for this position, do not be afraid to give yourself a raise. Let the hiring manager know that, based on your research, the salary you have chosen is based on your professional level, skills, and qualifications.

However, keep an eye out. Many people get carried away and say a price that is higher than the average salary. By saying a number that is too high, you run the risk of not getting hired at all.
Remember to be willing to negotiate. However, do not settle for something that seems unreasonable.

Take the hassle out of your job search & get an offer faster
Chris Kolmar


Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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