How to Answer ‘What are your Salary Expectations?' (With Examples)

How to Answer ‘What are your Salary Expectations?' (With Examples)
Jobstreet content teamupdated on 13 December, 2023

Are you unsure about how to handle a question on salary expectations during job discussions? 

You're not alone; many candidates find it awkward to talk about salary before finalizing job details. Hiring managers commonly ask, "What are your salary expectations?" to understand if your expected salary fits their budget and pay structure.

Wondering how to figure out if your salary expectation aligns with the company's norms without neglecting your needs? While it's impossible to eliminate the awkwardness, there are ways to better prepare and feel more confident when this question arises.

This article will walk you through effective ways to respond to the salary expectations question. It covers preparation tips and offers sample answers to 'What are your salary expectations?' to boost your confidence in job interviews. 

Why do employers need to know your salary expectations?

Employers inquire about salary expectations for various reasons. They want to understand your perception of your value and how well it aligns with the responsibilities and expectations of the role.

Some employers view this as an opportunity to assess your research and preparedness level, which demonstrates your proactive and genuine interest in the role. Therefore, it's essential to conduct thorough research to determine the average salary range in the prospective employer's industry. 

This way, you can provide well-informed and realistic answers during salary negotiations, showcasing your value and commitment to the position.

Preparing for the salary expectations question

woman preparing research on salary scales

To effectively answer the base salary expectation question, you must be well-prepared. Websites like “Career Advice Explore Salaries" can provide valuable insights into average salaries for various roles and industries.

Here are a few simple tips to prepare for the question:

  • Research salary trends: Before the interview, research the salary range for similar roles in your industry. What is the minimum salary for your position? Knowing the trends helps you set realistic expectations based on market standards.
  • ⁠Consider your experience: Think about your experience, skills, and qualifications. You may aim for a higher salary if you possess unique expertise or significant experience.
  • ⁠Factor in location: Remember that the salary range can differ based on the city or region. Consider the cost of living and the local job market when stating your expectations.
  • Review company information: Understand the company's size, reputation, and financial health. This insight can give you an idea of their compensation structure.
  • Assess total compensation: Remember that salary isn't the only consideration. Evaluate benefits, bonuses, and other perks offered by the company.
  • Practise responding: Rehearse your answer to the salary range question. Speak confidently, and avoid giving an exact figure. Instead, offer a salary range based on your research.
  • Stay flexible: Be open to negotiation. Be open to negotiation. If the company's offer is low, negotiate on other aspects of the compensation package.

How to answer 'What are your salary expectations?'

When faced with the question about your expected annual salary, it is essential to approach it confidently.

  1. Express your interest in the position. Show that you are excited about the opportunity rather than jumping straight into discussing numbers. This shows that you value the role beyond just the compensation.
  2. Highlight your skills and qualifications. Hiring managers want to know the value you can bring to the company. Make sure you give a salary range that's fair to you.
  3. Consider Your Experience. Take into account your years of experience, education, and any unique qualifications that make you stand out.
  4. When discussing the actual figures, provide a range rather than an exact number. This allows for negotiation.
  5. Let the prospective employer know that you are open to discussing the overall compensation package.

Deferring the question

Sometimes, it's good to wait before discussing salary expectations.

Tell the employer you want to know more about the job before discussing the minimum salary. This shows that you want to understand the position. It shows that you care more about finding the right career than the money.

You might also ask the employer about their budgeted salary range. This can give you helpful information.

Knowing their salary range helps you make sure your expectations match what they can offer.

Providing a range for your fair salary

When the hiring manager asks about your base salary expectations, giving a range can be good and bad.

The good part is that it shows you're flexible and ready to talk. You tell the employer what a fair salary looks like to you but leave room to discuss it.

The bad part is that you might get lower offers.

To fix this, study what's the standard for the industry and think about what you want. This helps you choose the right range.

Consider your experience, skills, and what others get paid for the same job. Also, start with a slightly higher number in the range. This can help you in talks.

If you pick the range carefully, it can help you and the employer agree on pay.

Highlighting value to the hiring manager

Hiring managers are open to negotiating your salary but you need to show them the value you bring to the table.

Talk about your skills, your accomplishments, and what makes you unique. Does the job description fit your skills and experiences? Do you have ample industry knowledge to help boost the company's growth? 

Show how what you know fits with what the company needs. Tell them how you can do more than just what they're willing to pay at first. Share how you can help the company in clear ways.

When you talk about your remuneration expectations and why you're worth what you're asking, you make the company see you as a valuable asset.

Exploring other forms of compensation

When discussing salary expectations, it's good to consider other benefits.

This means talking about extra things like bonuses, shares in the company, or being able to work when and where you want.

Make sure to say why having time for yourself and growing in your job is important. Talk about how these extras can make you happy and help you in the long run at the company.

This shows that you care about more than just money.

Looking at other pay benefits helps ensure that you and the company are happy with more than just the salary.

Assessing the company's expectations

Knowing what the company can and wants to give you is crucial. This is why you need to discuss salary expectations with the prospective employer.

You can find this out online or by talking to people who work or have worked there.

Knowing what the company usually pays and the benefits they could give you helps you answer correctly.

This makes sure what you ask for fits what the company can give. It helps you both agree on pay that works for everyone.

5 sample answers to 'What are your salary expectations?'

negotiating salary with interviewer

Let us take a look at some examples of how to answer “What are your salary expectations?” You can use these sample answers as a template for answering the question.

Sample 1: Showing Your Worth

"I have a lot of experience and can add value to this job. I'm looking for a salary between $70,000 to $80,000. Because I've helped grow income and save money before, I know I can do more than what you might pay at first."

Sample 2: Using research

"I looked at what people in this industry make and thought about what I can do. I think a fair pay for this job would be between $85,000 to $95,000. This matches what people with my skills and experience usually get."

Sample 3: Waiting and learning more

"I want to know more about the job before we talk about pay. Can you tell me more about it? That way, I can see how what I can do fits with what you need and think about what would be fair pay."

Sample 4: Thinking about all pay benefits

"Pay is important, but it's not everything. I also care about growing in my job and having time for myself. So I'm open to talking about all the pay and benefits, like extra money, time off, and chances to learn new things."

Sample 5: Asking about what the company can pay

"I want to know what you think this job should pay, given what it needs and what I can do. Can you tell me what you had in mind for pay? That way, I can make sure what I want fits your wants."

Outcome and Lessons Learned:

Each of these samples demonstrates different strategies for how to answer “What are your salary expectations” effectively.

Sample 1 highlights the importance of showcasing your value proposition, while sample 2 emphasises the significance of research-based figures.

Sample 3 showcases the benefits of deferring the question and gathering more information. Meanwhile, sample 4 emphasises the holistic approach to compensation.

Lastly, sample 5 focuses on understanding the employer's budgeted range.

The outcomes may vary based on factors such as company culture and negotiation dynamics.

However, the key lesson is to tailor your response based on the industry research and information gathered about the company's compensation practices.

Handling counter offers after giving a salary range

When you receive another job offer during salary negotiations, it's crucial to carefully assess your options. 

Firstly, consider the new offer and evaluate if it aligns with your desired pay, job responsibilities, and overall satisfaction. Reflect on the pros and cons of not accepting the offer.

While a higher salary may seem enticing, consider other factors. What is the company culture like? Is there room for learning and growth? Will you have sufficient personal time? Clearly communicate your needs and priorities, beyond just financial aspects.

Engage in open discussions, aiming for a solution that benefits both you and the company. Ensure it aligns with your long-term goals for your career and personal life.


Answering what you want to be paid needs some careful thought, study, and planning. You have to show why you're worth what you want. Talk about what you can do and what you've done before.

But think about more than just money. Time for yourself and chances to learn and grow in your job are important too. They can help make you happy in your work.

Try to find a balance between money and other things. This way, you can ask for what fits with what you want in your job and your life.

Remember, knowing what you want, being willing to change, and being ready for talks about pay can help you get what you need. It can help you and the company agree on something good for both.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

  1. Is it appropriate to ask about salary expectations during the early stages of the interview process?
    It is generally best to avoid discussing specific salary expectations during the initial stages of the interview process. Wait for the employer to bring up the topic, as salary negotiations typically occur after you have received a job offer.
  2. How can I find accurate salary data for my industry and location?
    There are several reliable resources available for finding accurate salary data. Websites like Jobstreet provide salary information based on industry, job title, and location.
  3. What if I have no prior work experience or a limited salary history?
    If you have no prior work experience or a limited salary history, it is important to focus on highlighting your skills, qualifications, and potential value to the employer. Research industry standards for entry-level positions and consider discussing a salary range based on your education, internships, or any relevant certifications you have obtained.
  4. Should I disclose my current salary when asked about salary expectations?
    It is generally not advisable to disclose your current salary when asked about salary expectations, as it may limit your potential for negotiation. Instead, focus on discussing the value you can bring to the role and the market value for your skills and experience.
  5. How can I negotiate a higher salary without jeopardising the job offer?
    ⁠Negotiating for a higher salary can be done subtly and respectfully. Start by highlighting your qualifications and the value you can bring to the organisation. Use industry research to support your negotiation. Instead of focusing solely on salary, you can also discuss other aspects such as professional development opportunities or additional benefits.

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