Interview Questions And Answers : What Are Your Salary Expectations

Interview Questions And Answers : What Are Your Salary Expectations

Interview Questions And Answers : What Are Your Salary Expectations

You may be wondering what the big deal about the money question is; yet it’s one question that often stumps job candidates. Not only that, but it can change the climate of an interview from red hot to ice cold as a result of a few digits of difference in thinking.

Why do companies ask job candidates the salary question? Ultimately, company leaders and HR professionals want to know if they can afford you before they invest time and resources courting you to come to work for them.

Some employers are bargain hunting. Despite a general market value for certain positions, some companies place a bigger premium on certain positions than other companies. This means that the salary they expect to pay for a certain position may be lower or higher than the going rate.

Another possible reason is that they’re trying to see how you value your work. Are you confident enough to ask for what you deserve or will you meekly accept whatever they offer?

Sell them on you, and convince them of your worth to their organization before you reach the point of salary negotiations.

Example Salary Question :

Usually, “the salary question” is one or both of the following:

1) What are you looking to make?

2) What are you making now?

Each of these comes with different challenges. The question(s) can come up early on as part of the screening process or can pop up later after you’ve answered a few of the behavioral, skill, or background questions.


Expect the salary interview question and have plans in place to address it before going into the interview.

 Answering “What are Your Salary Requirements?”

It seems like an innocent enough question. It makes sense that potential employers would want to know a ballpark figure for your expectations, right?

Not so fast. Be aware that candidly stating your salary expectations too early in the interview process can lead to problems.

  • Problem 1.  A high number can price you out of contention before you’ve even had a chance to make a good impression. Low or high, if you name a price that’s outside of their expectations, it can remove you from the running for the position.
  • Problem 2.  Going too low can also put you in a position where you can’t afford to take the job, yet can’t afford to turn the job down. This is especially true for job candidates who offer low-end figures out of desperation and in hopes of getting the job. This rarely leads to a happy work situation.
  • Problem 3. You may be tempted to sell yourself short to move forward in the process. While some businesses will jump at the lowest offer, there are plenty of others out there that understand the marketplace and will shy away from candidates that seem too eager to lower their standards to get the job. It may make them worry that you’ll lower your standards elsewhere as well.

Before you consider answering the question, it’s important to know the going rate for jobs in your field and in your job market (location). These can be found at websites like:


What are you expecting to make in terms of salary?

A: I understand that positions similar to this one pay in the range of £X to £Z in our area. With my experience, I would like to receive something in the range of £Y to £Z as a starting salary.

Other points you may want to include could be your number of years experience, your qualifications or any qualities you have that gives you an edge over your competitors.

You will also want to think a bit about best case scenarios (what salary offer would make you say yes on the spot) and worst case scenarios (what salary offer would you walk away from)

Tactics to Delay Answering

Experts recommend to put off answering the salary question as long as possible. Here are a few suggestions to strategically delay answering the salary questions with a specific number.

When asked:  “What are your salary expectations for the job?”

This is a great opportunity to sell yourself while putting the pressure on the organization to make a fair offer by saying something along the lines of:

“I’m more interested in finding a position that’s a good fit for my skills and interests. I’m confident that you’re offering a salary that’s competitive in the current market.”

You’re letting them know that you’re confident of your abilities and respect yourself too much to sell yourself short.

Naturally, some interviewers will press further for a specific number. At this point, you can say something like:

“Well, according to my research and past experience, my understanding is that 75-90K per year is typical based on the role and requirements.”

This frames the number as “here’s my understanding of what’s competitive” as opposed to “here’s what I want.”

If you’ve done your research (see above), you’ll be able to quote a reasonable range and then they can respond.

When asked:  “What are You Making Now?”

For the most part, interviewers ask this question believing that offering a salary 10 to 15 percent higher than your current salary will be sufficient to lure you away from your current position.

There are a number of reasons why this question may not be so straightforward for many candidates. Most typically, many candidates are either underpaid or overpaid in their current roles. They fear an overly high or low number could lead to an unattractive offer or knock them out of contention. Others may be making a career change or moving from commission-based to salary work or otherwise in a situation in which the comparison isn’t valid.


If you’re not making the market rate, or close to it, potential employers may begin scratching their heads and asking why. The problem is that many people choose jobs with lower salaries for reasons that have nothing to do with work ethic or job performance including the following:

  • Bonus/commission incentives
  • Flexible working options or reduced hours
  • Better  benefits — health, retirement, tuition reimbursement, etc.
  • Fewer work hours
  • Location (cost of living, local job market, etc.)
  • Opportunity to take on new responsibilities and gain experience even if your salary didn’t increase accordingly


When pressed to give your current salary when you know it would sabotage your chances, consider the following tactic to delay the question a little longer, if not put it off altogether:

“Since this position is not exactly the same as my current job, let’s discuss what my responsibilities at this company will be and work together to determine a fair salary for this position.”

If you feel you must reveal your lower salary earlier than you would like, don’t forget to mention the contributing factors too. Employers will understand that a job in Iowa paid less than a job in New York City, for example.

Tips on Negotiating for What You’re Worth


The way you respond to the offer can change everything.

Make your counter offer one that is fair, well-reasoned, and thoughtfully presented. CBS Money recommends providing a salary range as part of your counter offer – indicating that companies will often avoid offering the lowest range in an effort to avoid seeming impolite.

When negotiating a job offer is to keep things positive – even if the offer is one you’re having a great deal of difficulty drumming up enthusiasm about. Show gratitude for the offer and enthusiasm about the potential of the position before you dive into negotiating mode.

Though if you do provide a range, make sure the bottom number is one you can live (and work) with. Providing a salary range also gives the employer the impression that you’re flexible – a trait they often prefer in employees. and perhaps the most important when it comes to your long-term career goals, is this: be willing to walk away if the offer isn’t right for you.

Lastly, keep in mind that some companies may have a limit on salaries they can offer, but that doesn’t mean they can’t offer compensation in other ways. If you get pushback on a higher salary, try negotiating for other benefits that could sweeten the offer for you:

  • Performance bonuses
  • Signing bonuses
  • Future pay raises
  • Additional vacation days
  • Company stock
  • Retirement contributions
  • Health benefits
  • Flexible work hours

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