How to Answer ‘What Are Your Salary Expectations?’

Learn how to negotiate your worth and get the salary you deserve, and discover effective strategies, approaches, and sample answer
Safa Asad
Reviewed by:
Mina Wasfi
January 10, 2024
0 min read time
Safa Asad

Job interviews can be like roller coaster rides, full of exciting highs and nerve-wracking lows. You'll experience a range of emotions and encounter scary, exciting, and sometimes awkward questions. One common question that often comes up is about your salary expectations.

When asked about your salary expectations, it's important to approach it thoughtfully. Before the interview, take some time to research the industry standards and provide a range, not any specific number. Talking about salary can be tricky, it’s not just about the number you ask for but it’s an opportunity to show your value. 

In this article, we’ll explore how you can answer this complicated question so you know your worth in the next interview. 

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Why Do Hiring Managers And Recruiters Ask "What is your Salary Expectation"?

Recruiters or hiring managers want to know if your expectations align with what they are willing to offer for the role. They don’t want to go through multiple interview stages only to find out that they can’t afford you. This would not only be costly in terms of time for the hiring manager but also for the candidate.

Some candidates are clueless about the salary and benefits after the interview, therefore, it’s beneficial to get a clear picture through this question, making it easier to make the final decision. 

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How To Justify Your Salary Expectation?

In this today’s competitive job market, it’s crucial to have salary discussions backed with confidence and a solid understanding of your worth. 

[fs-toc-omit]1. Do your research

You should never give a ballpark figure without doing your research, this not only affects your chances of landing a job but also leaves a weak impression on the recruiter. Talk to your friends or old colleagues who are working in the same position or industry.

While conducting your research, ensure that you consider the job responsibilities, your experience, and your location. You can also use online salary calculator tools like to get an idea of the minimum salary for the role. 

[fs-toc-omit]Sample Answer:

I'm looking for a fair and competitive salary that matches my education and experience. Based on my research and understanding of the role, my target salary is in the range of $X to $Y. However, I'm open to discussing the benefits, and growth opportunities that I'll have here.

[fs-toc-omit]2. Set a higher expectation 

It's advisable to quote a slightly higher figure than your intended final settlement. Recruiters usually counter your initial proposal, so it's wise to leave room for negotiation. 

[fs-toc-omit]Sample Answer: 

After talking to friends working in the same industry and considering my qualifications, I’m looking to make between the range of {Quote a slightly higher range} in this role. However, salary is just a factor that I have to consider and I’m open to discussing the budget you have defined for this role and the learning opportunities that you offer your employees.

[fs-toc-omit]3. Be Confident 

Once you have decided on your target salary, confidently pitch it to the recruiter. Begin by discussing your experience and professional achievements, and explain your worth in a convincing manner. This will demonstrate to the recruiter that you understand your value and deserve what you are asking for. 

[fs-toc-omit]Sample Answer: 

While compensation is important, my primary focus is on finding a position where I can utilize my skills and experience to make a meaningful impact. I am confident that with my qualifications and track record, we can agree on a competitive salary that reflects the value I would bring to the team.

[fs-toc-omit]4. Always leave room for negotiation

Interviews are all about impressing the recruiter, if you’ll get stuck at a specific number it will ultimately leave a bad impression. Employers are ready to negotiate to reach a mutually-agreeable decision, however, you should consider all aspects of the role while negotiating your salary.

[fs-toc-omit]Sample Answer: 

Considering my level of experience and the responsibilities associated with the position, I would anticipate a salary range of [insert range]. However, I am also interested in the overall compensation package, which includes benefits, bonuses, and opportunities for growth. I'm open to discussing these aspects further to ensure a mutually beneficial agreement.

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How Much Salary Should You Accept?

[fs-toc-omit]Give a range

Don’t just give them a specific number, instead, offer a salary range that shows your familiarity with the industry standards.
If the recruiter inquires about your current salary, be honest and tell them why you are worthy of this much salary. If you are not comfortable with disclosing it, you can say that you’d like to negotiate what the company has to offer. 

[fs-toc-omit]Ask for additional details 

If this question is asked during the initial stages of the interview, you must not rush to give a specific number. Instead, it’s important to get clarity regarding your job responsibilities such as whether it includes traveling or if you’ll have any night shifts. This will help you better asses the overall value of the opportunity. 

[fs-toc-omit]Look for other forms of compensation

If you feel that the recruiter is unwilling to negotiate due to the company’s defined budget, you can discuss compensation factors such as health insurance, wellness allowance, vacation days, remote working allowance, and maybe stock options. We understand that you cannot enjoy these benefits on a monthly basis, but these keep getting stacked up thus improving your work-life balance and your company’s culture. 

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What Is Your Salary Expectation Sample Answer For Freshers?

When discussing this question as a fresher, you might stumble a bit but it’s important to give a realistic answer setting a fair expectation. Here is a few sample answers that you can use:

[fs-toc-omit]Example # 1:

As a recent graduate entering the job market, my main priorities are getting valuable experience and contributing to the growth of the company. I would be looking for a salary in the range of [specific range] per year., taking into account my qualifications and the industry norms for entry-level roles. However, I am open to discussing the specifics and other benefits as well.

[fs-toc-omit]Example # 2: 

As a recent graduate, I recognize the importance of starting my career on the right foot. While salary is just one factor, my priority is to join an organization that values professional development, mentorship and provides a strong foundation for growth. I am open to discussing a fair and competitive compensation package that reflects the responsibilities and expectations of the role.

[fs-toc-omit]Example # 3

I've done internships similar to this role, and as per my experience and background, I can expect to make a salary in the range of {$X - $Y}. Of course, salary is not the only important thing so I'd love to hear about the benefit packages your company offers. The most important factor for me is the culture and a thriving environment where I can grow my career. 

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It entirely depends on you how you answer this question, but with the right approach and mindset, you can negotiate with confidence and clarity. Always remember that negotiations are a two-way street. To reach a decision, you’ll have to respectfully listen and understand the employer’s perspective. If they are unable to meet your expectations, explore other areas of compromise. 

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