How To Answer "What Are Your Salary Expectations?" and Related Questions

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated September 10, 2022

Published July 26, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Many employers ask about your salary expectations during the interview process. Some recruiters ask this question during an initial phone interview, and others wait to discuss salary until they meet you in person or conduct a second interview. Preparing your answers to some salary-related questions ahead of time can help you reduce your stress in interviews and present more confidently. In this article, we discuss why employers ask, "What are your salary expectations?", explore how to research salaries, and cover ways to answer questions about salary expectations with helpful examples.

Why employers ask, "What are your salary expectations?"

When employers ask about your salary expectations, they often want to make sure that your compensation requirements are within the company's budget. If many candidates ask for more, the hiring manager may request more money for the position.

Asking about your salary expectation range can also tell employers about how much you think you're worth. Strong candidates ask for more because they're more confident about their skills and abilities. They research the salaries of similar positions to make sure that their requests are reasonable. Consider the title of the position, your qualifications and years of experience, and your skills and achievements.

Related: How to Improve Your Skill Set and Keep Skills Current

Researching salaries

The answer you provide to a question about your ideal salary could be the beginning of a salary negotiation, so providing a well-researched response is important. Check Indeed's Salary Calculator for a free, personalized pay range based on your location, the industry, the company, and your experience level.

You can also use Indeed Salaries to find the average pay rate for the position. When you visit the page, scroll down to learn more about the top companies who hire people for similar positions, the highest-paying cities for the job across the country, and the pay rates for similar positions. This data comes from past and current job postings on Indeed and information submitted anonymously by users. For pay rates categorized by company and other information about businesses from current and former employees, visit Indeed Company Reviews.

Related: What Is Pay Inequity? (With Employment Laws and FAQs)

Ways to answer a question about salary expectations (with examples)

A hiring manager could ask you about your salary expectations directly or as part of an application. Responding confidently can help you get a job offer. Here are some ways you can answer with helpful examples:

Give a well-researched number

Responding to a question about your salary expectations with a solid, well-researched number makes you seem more confident, and it shows the hiring manager that you've done some research. It can also help you start negotiations in a strong position. When possible, mention your achievements to remind the hiring manager why you're worth a generous pay rate. For example:

“My baseline salary requirement is $94,500. I feel that my unique skills and the management awards I received at my last job warrant this pay rate. It's also only a small amount more than the average person working in a similar position.”

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Provide a range

If you don't feel comfortable providing one number, you can offer a range of rates instead. Employers often make offers on the low end of a pay range, so make your target number as close to the bottom figure as possible. Also, keep your range tight by making the difference between the high and low ends less than $10,000. For example:

“I would like to earn between $83,000 and $87,000 per year. Due to my advanced skill set and experience level, I feel that this is a comfortable, appropriate range for my work.”

“The average salary for similar positions in the area for someone with my qualifications is between $100,000 and $110,000, so that range would be my salary expectation for this role.”

“I would like to tell you how grateful I am for the amazing benefits this job offers and how much they motivated me to apply. With these benefits, I expect between $65,000 and $75,000 per year. My extensive background in client services can strengthen the organization.”

“Thank you for asking. I feel that a salary between $67,000 and $72,000 is in line with the industry average, and this rate would reflect my skills and experience level well. I'm open to hearing about the company's budget for this position.”

Related: What is a Salary Range?

Include some negotiation options

The benefits, perks, or other types of compensation that come with a position can be as important as your pay rate. Employers who aren't willing to increase their budget for a higher pay rate may be open to offering additional benefits like a generous employee discount, a percentage of the profits, or a flexible schedule. For example:

“While my ideal salary for this position is $85,000 per year, I would accept slightly less for a job with a flexible schedule that allows remote work at least sometimes.”

“I'm looking for a position that pays between $75,000 and $80,000 per year, but I'm open to negotiate depending on the benefits, equity, bonuses, stock options, and other opportunities your company offers.”

Related: How To Negotiate Salary (With Examples)

Deflect the question

If you're still learning about the details of a job and your duties and responsibilities, expectations, you can postpone your answer. However, you still need to be prepared for the question because you eventually need to answer. For example:

“Before I answer, I'd like to ask you a few questions and learn more about the duties and expectations of the job. That way, I can give you a more realistic and accurate answer.”

Related interview questions and answers

Here are some other interview questions related to "What are your salary expectations?" including tips for answering and example answers:

What can you contribute to this company?

Other versions of this question include:

  • What is your greatest strength?

  • What qualities make you unique?

  • What qualities make you the best fit for this role?

  • What qualities would your last employer say sets you apart from other candidates or employees?

When you respond to one of these questions, you have an opportunity to sell yourself and remind the hiring manager about your skills, awards, and experience. When possible, use an anecdote or story in your answer or statistics that demonstrate your strengths. For example:

”One of my greatest strengths is my outstanding work ethic. When my last employer was preparing for the busy season, I stayed late often to make sure that customers could get their orders on time."

”One of my greatest strengths is my analytical skills. After reviewing my last company's demand data, I increased productivity by 10% by moving two employees to an earlier shift with more customers."

Related: How To Answer "What is Your Greatest Strength?" (With Examples)

Why would you accept a job for less money?

Hiring managers often ask this question when someone's previous job usually pays more than the position they're applying for. They may wonder if you plan to leave when you get a better offer, and it's a good idea to make sure you can live comfortably on a lower pay rate before accepting the job offer. Also, be prepared to explain your reasons for applying for a job with lower pay.

The new position could be less stressful and more enjoyable, or it could be closer to your home. It could also offer more flexible hours, more generous commissions or bonuses, or more opportunities for continuing education and career advancement. For many people, on-site child care or another benefit could outweigh a difference in pay rates. When you explain why you're willing to take a lower offer, avoid saying anything negative about previous employers. For example:

“Since your organization is a nonprofit, I'm willing to forgo some of my previous salary so that I can help people in need.”

“While the base pay rate this company offers is lower, it's in a province with lower expenses. You also offer the option to work from home on some days, letting me avoid a commute.”

Why do you want to work here?

Like the previous question, the answer to this question usually emphasizes the positive aspects of the position. Hiring managers often ask this when speaking to people who made less or about the same amount at their previous jobs. It lets them know how enthusiastic you are about the position and how long you're likely to stay. It also lets interviewers know how much research about the company you did to prepare for the interview. For example:

“Your company is one of the most successful, and I would love to learn more from your knowledgeable staff. I also like what I've heard so far about the company culture.”

Related: Interview Question: "Why Do You Want to Work Here?"

Salary figures reflect data listed on the quoted websites at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organization and a candidate’s experience, academic background and location.

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