Navigating a job interview can be challenging, and one of the most daunting questions many candidates face is: “What are your salary expectations?” Your answer can determine whether you’re seen as a fit for the role, if you’re potentially leaving money on the table, or if you might be pricing yourself out of a job.

In this how-to guide, we’ll dissect strategies to answer this question effectively, no matter where you are in your career.

1. Do Your Research

a. Know the Market Rate:
Utilise platforms like Glassdoor, Payscale, and to get an idea of the average salary for the position in your specific location. Remember, salaries can vary widely depending on geographic location, industry, and company size.

b. Talk to Professionals:
Network with people in similar roles or industries. Their insights can offer a realistic range for the position.

2. Assess Your Value

a. Experience:
Where do you stand on the experience spectrum? New graduates will likely be on the lower end, while seasoned professionals can aim higher.

b. Special Skills:
Unique certifications, language skills, or specialised knowledge can give you leverage to ask for a higher salary.

c. Past Salaries:
If you were previously earning a higher salary than the average for the role you’re interviewing for, this can be a justification for higher pay. However, be prepared to explain your rationale.

3. Factor in Benefits

Remember, total compensation isn’t just about base salary. It includes bonuses, health benefits, retirement contributions, stock options, and other perks. If a company offers comprehensive benefits, you might be willing to accept a slightly lower salary.

4. Practice Your Delivery

a. Be Confident:
It’s natural to be nervous discussing money, but remember you’re simply talking about your worth and ensuring a fair compensation.

b. Be Vague Initially:
Instead of providing a specific figure right away, consider offering a range. This provides flexibility and starts the negotiation.

c. Use Open-ended Statements:
Phrases like “I’m looking for something in the range of X-Y, depending on the specific responsibilities and the total compensation package” can keep the conversation going.

5. Consider Your Level

a. Entry-Level:
While you might have less negotiating power, it’s crucial to ensure you’re not undervalued. Stick to the market average as a baseline.

b. Mid-Level:
You have experience to back you up. Use previous salaries as a starting point and add value based on added skills and responsibilities you’ve taken on since your last role.

c. Senior-Level:
You’re in a position to negotiate more strongly. Be sure to factor in leadership and strategic capabilities that differentiate you from mid-level candidates.

6. Always Be Willing to Negotiate

No matter the initial offer, be ready to negotiate. Even if you’re content with the first number, there might be room for improvement in other areas like vacation time or flexible hours.

7. Know When to Walk Away

If the offered salary doesn’t meet your minimum requirement and there’s no room for negotiation, it’s okay to decline. You need to ensure the role aligns with your worth and your financial needs.


Answering the “salary expectations” question is as much an art as it is a science. By being prepared, understanding your value, and being open to negotiation, you can navigate this tricky question with confidence and poise. Remember, you’re not just looking for any job; you’re looking for the right job. Knowing your worth is an integral step in finding the perfect fit.

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