How to Answer Salary Expectations Questions in Job Interviews

salary expectation question

Usually, there are 3 to 4 stages of an interview. In the first round, you will introduce yourself; in the second round, you will be asked questions regarding your educational qualification, prior work experience, technical skills, etc., in the third round (before the closing round), you are most likely to be asked about your salary expectations. This is when most of the candidates get nervous and fail to respond appropriately.

Candidates either undersell them or oversell them. If your expectation is too low, then you are leaving money on the table, and if it is too high, there is a chance that the interviewer may turn you down.

So how do you give a measured response to the interviewer?

Well! There are certain strategies that might help you to quote a figure that will be fair to you and, at the same time, within the employer’s budget. With thorough research and following the right strategies, you can easily achieve this.

Try to Understand Why Employers Ask About Salary Expectations

A fresher has no idea why employers want to know your salary expectation. What is the reason?

Well! There are many good reasons why employers are interested to learn about your expectations.

First, employers have a limited budget. Human Resource Managers have a responsibility to hire talents at a minimum cost. If candidates are asking more than anticipated, HR will need a larger budget from the management.

The second reason is they want to learn how well you know your worth. The talented candidate knows their skill sets and how much it is worth. This will tell the interviewer how experienced you are.

With this much information, employers will be in a position to make the right decision, whether to hire you or not.

Research Salary Trends in the Market and Figure out Realistic Salary Expectations

You could be asked about your salary expectations during the interview. So it is better to do some research on salary trends in your niche beforehand.

The best way to find information is by connecting with your fellow candidates who are also looking for the same job position. You can ask them how much they are asking.

You can also go to websites like LinkedIn and connect with professionals who are already employed by the same company. You can ask how much they get paid for the desired job title.

Then you can go to one of the job search websites like Indeed,, and other best websites and look up your desired job title by name, geographic location, years of experience, etc.

The research will help you to figure out a realistic salary range that is acceptable to you and your employer.

Give Approximate Salary Range and Not Exact Figure

Now you have done the research and figured out a realistic salary. You can go for the interview.

During the early rounds, you may be asked about your salary expectations. Although this is unlikely if you are asked, then give a range, a ballpark number and not a specific figure.

By giving a range, you are telling the interviewer that you are willing to be very flexible and open to later negotiations.

The major drawback of giving exact figures in an early round of interviews is there isn’t any room left for future negotiations.

You can give the exact figure in the final round when you are sure that you are going to be hired by the company.

Delay Answering Either by Flipping the Question or Turning it Down Diplomatically

What do you do when you are insisted again and again by your interviewer to give an exact figure?

Well! You can counter-question the interviewer by asking, “I would like to know more about my role and responsibilities for the job title before discussing salary”.

But what if the interviewer still keeps on insisting? Then you have to turn it down very diplomatically in a polite manner.

By doing it politely, you will demonstrate that you are a serious candidate who is more interested in learning about the role and responsibilities rather than money. Your employer will respect you and continue with the interview.

Be Honest while Explaining your Side

While having the conversation, never fake your qualification, work experience and past work history with your interviewer.

Eventually, the truth is going to come out, maybe during the reference checks or maybe during the skill test and technical round. Don’t try to inflate numbers for your current salary. Be honest and tell the truth otherwise, you may lose the job offer.

Always explain yourself with data-based facts, logic, and reasoning rather than speaking incoherently to the interviewer.

An informed response can help the interviewer better understand you.

After Discussion, Give an Exact Number

Once you are through with all the rounds and learned every detail, like your job profile, team members, salary offered by the employer, etc., you have to give an exact number and not a range.

Take into account all the research you did before appearing for the interview and the facts you learned during the entire interview process, and then come up with a final figure.

All of the information should help you arrive at a final figure that is fair and will be acceptable to the employer.

Be Open to Further Negotiations

After giving the final figure, wait for the employer’s response. You can close the deal if the employer agrees with your salary figure. Otherwise, you have to be open to further negotiations.

For example, you can negotiate your salary for other benefits and bonuses. In other words, if your employer is willing to compensate by offering equity in the company like stocks, bonds, and other benefits, then you can definitely negotiate your final salary figure.

Once you have been accepted for the job after the long interview, you can thank the manager and then ask for the offer letter and the date of joining.

I hope after reading the article, you will get an idea of how to answer salary expectation questions in a job interview.