How to answer "What are your salary expectations for this position?" (with sample answers)

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This post is part of our series on behavioral interview questions.

Why employers ask this

As a jobseeker, you must understand the motive behind the question “What are your salary expectations for this position?". Because, if you do, you're better equipped to provide the appropriate response.

Employers in an interview ask this question to determine the following:

  • Whether you understand your worth in the job market and can make realistic expectations
  • If the compensation they offer meets your financial expectations and whether you would accept the compensation if offered
  • To confirm if you are serious about the position and whether a mismatched salary would limit your desire to work for them.

How to answer the question

To answer the question “What are your salary expectations for this position?", there are steps to go through:

  1. Do your research.
    Find what salary range is typical in your chosen industry and job function. You can research this using websites like Payscale, Glassdoor and using career advisory services.
  2. Consider your experience and qualifications.
    Consider your experience, education and certifications, and how these relate to the job function and what the company is looking for.
  3. Provide a range
    Give a range, not a specific number as this allows negotiating room. For instance, it could be “I expect to earn anywhere between $50,000-$65,000 per annum”.
  4. Be flexible.
    Be careful not to come across as rigid and inflexible. Consider perks and benefits like vacation time, stock options, and 401k match when evaluating salary offers.
  5. Rephrase the question.
    If the question comes up early in the interview process, you could rephrase it by saying something like “Could I ask what range you have budgeted for the position?".

Sample answers

  • Bad answer: "I'm open to negotiations, but I really need to make at least $X per year to feel satisfied."
    This answer is bad because it sets a specific number and shows that salary is the top priority for the jobseeker. It also doesn't leave much room for negotiations and doesn't consider the job's responsibilities and requirements.
  • Good answer: "Well, I'm looking for a fair compensation package for my skills and experience, and I trust that your company offers competitive salaries. Can you please tell me more about the salary range for this position?"
    This answer is good because it demonstrates that the jobseeker is flexible and is willing to negotiate based on what the company is willing to offer. It also shows that they value the company's compensation practices and want to learn more about the specifics before making a request.
  • Bad answer: "I expect to be paid at least X% more than my previous job. I'm worth it because I have a lot of experience, and I know my work is valuable."
    This answer is bad because it assumes that the jobseeker's previous salary is relevant to their current salary expectations, which might not be the case. Additionally, making demands based solely on past experience without considering other factors can be seen as entitled and off-putting.
  • Good answer: "I'm looking for a salary that is commensurate with both my experience and the requirements of this position. I feel confident that we can come to an agreement that is mutually beneficial."
    This answer is good because it shows a willingness to be flexible and emphasizes that the jobseeker sees the interview process as a collaborative effort. It also highlights the value they bring to the table and demonstrates a thoughtful approach to salary negotiations.

Remember that while it's important to have an idea of your salary expectations, it's equally important to approach the conversation with tact and professionalism. Keep in mind that compensation is only one factor to consider when evaluating a job offer, and be prepared to discuss other aspects of the job that are important to you as well.

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