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How to answer: what are your salary expectations?

Posted by: Kevin Delhaye

Why is answering this question so tricky? It’s a relatively straightforward question yet the answer can be quite complicated. You don’t want to undersell yourself, but you don’t want to be unrealistic.

Why do interviewers want to know what your salary expectations are? 

Ultimately, they want to know if they can afford to employ you but will also be asking this question to gauge how much you’re worth based on the experience you’ve gained. Do some research and prepare your answer before going to the interview, it will demonstrate to your interviewer that you understand your value, but that you are flexible and realistic, with your salary expectation.

Know your market 

Use sites like LinkedIn, Glassdoor,, PayScale and Indeed salary estimates to research salary ranges. Get in touch with someone who was in the role previously and ask them if they would be happy to share the salary range with you.

Keep in mind that salaries vary not only by career level and company but also by geographical location, a job located in London is likely to pay more than the same position located in a rural location.

Discuss a salary range

Suggest a range that is acceptable to you and that is an accurate reflection of the typical market value for that position. Don’t risk cutting the interview short if the interviewer doesn’t like what you’re saying. You will also maintain some bargaining power at offer stage. They now understand what would be acceptable to you and you can begin negotiating from this point. 

How to answer salary expectations questions (with examples):

Example 1:
 “I am flexible on salary; I would be looking to earn between $47,000 and $52,000 annually. Due to my skill set and level of experience, I feel that this is an appropriate range for my work.”

Example 2:
“I feel that an annual salary between $55,000 and $60,000 is in line with the industry average and reflects my experience and skill set well. I am flexible and open to hearing about the company’s salary expectations for this position.”

Example 3:
“I am seeking a position that pays between $65,000 and $70,000 annually but I am open to negotiate salary depending on benefits, bonuses, stock options and other opportunities.”

The best strategy for answering what your salary expectations are is to do your research in advance of the interview, understand the minimum you can accept, never give a single figure and have your answer ready. Following this simple advice will give you the tools to answer the ‘dreaded’ salary expectation question with complete confidence. 

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