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Best way to answer "What are your salary expectations?"

General | 04 Jan 2024

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 During job interviews, there are a few questions stir as much anxiety as the seemingly innocuous, "What are your salary expectations?" This inquiry often emerges at a pivotal moment in the hiring process, leaving candidates grappling with the challenge of positioning themselves favorably without pricing themselves out of contention. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of this question, exploring why hiring managers pose it, strategies for discussing salary expectations, and effective negotiation tactics.

Why do hiring managers and recruiters even ask this question?

The question about salary expectations isn't a mere formality; rather, it serves multiple purposes for hiring managers and recruiters. Firstly, it helps employers assess if a candidate's expectations align with the budget allocated for the position. This is crucial for managing resources efficiently and ensuring financial feasibility.

Secondly, the question provides insight into a candidate's understanding of industry standards and their own market value. A well-researched response demonstrates professionalism and a nuanced comprehension of the job market. On the flip side, unrealistic expectations might signal a lack of awareness or, in some cases, overconfidence.

Lastly, asking about salary expectations allows employers to gauge a candidate's priorities. Are they primarily motivated by monetary compensation, or are they more focused on factors like job satisfaction, growth opportunities, and company culture? Understanding these aspects aids employers in tailoring job offers to align with a candidate's overall priorities.

Discussing your salary expectations

When confronted with the salary expectations question, it's crucial to strike a balance between transparency and strategic positioning. Here are some strategies for a transparent discussion:

  • Do Your Homework: Before the interview, conduct thorough research on industry standards and the specific role you're interviewing for. Having a well-informed understanding of the market will empower you to provide a reasonable and justifiable response.

  • Delay Tactic: If possible, defer the salary discussion until later stages of the interview process. Express your eagerness to first understand the responsibilities and expectations of the role better. This delay allows you to gather more information and present a more informed response.

  • Offer a Range: When pressed for a specific figure, present a salary range rather than a fixed number. This provides flexibility for negotiation and demonstrates your openness to finding a mutually beneficial arrangement.

  • Consider Total Compensation: Look beyond the base salary and consider the entire compensation package, including benefits, bonuses, and other perks. This comprehensive approach showcases your understanding of the broader value associated with the position.

  • Highlight Your Value: Emphasize the unique skills, experiences, and qualifications you bring to the table. Articulate how your expertise aligns with the demands of the role, justifying your salary expectations based on the value you can contribute.

Negotiating your salary expectations

Negotiating salary requires finesse and a clear understanding of your worth. Here are key strategies for navigating this critical phase of the job offer process to have a win-win discussion:

  • Express Flexibility: Communicate your openness to negotiation. Make it clear that you are willing to work collaboratively with the employer to arrive at a mutually satisfactory agreement. This flexibility fosters a positive atmosphere for negotiation.

  • Justify Your Range: If asked about the rationale behind your salary range, be prepared to articulate the factors influencing your expectations. Highlight your relevant skills, experience, and any additional qualifications that distinguish you from other candidates.

  • Consider Company Factors: Factor in the company's size, financial health, and industry norms. Startups may have different financial constraints compared to established corporations. Demonstrating an understanding of the employer's context can strengthen your negotiating position.

  • Seek Clarification on Non-Salary Benefits: If the employer cannot meet your desired salary, inquire about other benefits that might be negotiable, such as flexible working arrangements, professional development opportunities, or performance bonuses. A comprehensive approach to negotiations goes beyond the base salary.

  • Maintain a Positive Tone: Regardless of the outcome, maintain a positive and professional demeanor. If the initial offer falls short of your expectations, express your enthusiasm for the position and inquire about the possibility of performance reviews and salary adjustments in the future.

Example scenarios on how to answer “what are your salary expectations?”

These examples are starting points, and it's essential to tailor your response based on your research, the specific job, and your personal circumstances. Being well-prepared and maintaining a positive, collaborative tone can greatly enhance your chances of arriving at a mutually beneficial agreement.

Example 1: Early in the Interview Process

Interviewer: "We're interested in your candidacy, but before we proceed, could you share your salary expectations?"

Candidate: "I appreciate the opportunity to discuss this. I'm very interested in the role and would love to learn more about the responsibilities and expectations before settling on a specific figure. Could we revisit this topic once I have a clearer understanding of the position?"

Example 2: Providing a Salary Range

Interviewer: "We're considering candidates for this position with varying levels of experience. What salary range are you looking for?"

Candidate: "I've done some research on industry standards and considering my skills and experience, I'm looking for a salary in the range of ₱55,000 to ₱75,000. I believe this range is competitive and reflects my value in relation to the responsibilities of the role."

Example 3: Emphasizing Flexibility and Total Compensation

Interviewer: "We have a budget in mind for this role. What are your salary expectations?"

Candidate: "I appreciate the transparency. While I have a ballpark figure in mind, I'm open to discussing the entire compensation package, including benefits, bonuses, and other perks. It's important for me to consider the overall value of the position in addition to the base salary."

Example 4: Justifying Your Expectations

Interviewer: "Can you explain why you've chosen that salary range?"

Candidate: "Certainly. My research on industry standards in this location suggests that this range is in line with the current market trends. Furthermore, considering my five years of experience in a similar role and my proficiency in [specific skills], I believe this range reflects the value I can bring to the team."

Example 5: Negotiating with Openness

Interviewer: "We're impressed with your qualifications. However, the initial offer is slightly below your indicated range. Is that negotiable?"

Candidate: "I appreciate the offer and the recognition of my qualifications. I'm definitely open to negotiation. While the base salary is a crucial factor, I'd also be interested in discussing other aspects of the compensation package, such as bonuses, benefits, or professional development opportunities."


Responding to the question about salary expectations requires a blend of preparation, communication skills, and a nuanced understanding of the job market. By adopting these strategies, candidates can navigate this delicate conversation effectively, positioning themselves as informed, flexible, and valuable assets to potential employers. In the end, the goal is not just securing a fair compensation package but also establishing a foundation for a successful and mutually beneficial professional relationship.