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Salary Expectation Question | How To Give Answers Resourcefully

At some point, employers may ask the Salary Expectation Question in order to get a sense of whether they can afford you. They might also ask you this to see how much you value yourself and the work that you do.

By doing some research and preparing an answer ahead of time, you can demonstrate to the employer that you are flexible with your salary. But, it is important that you also know what you are worth.

Salary Expectation Question

Basically, they may bring up the topic of pay at some point in the interview process. But, the salary expectation question answers are rare to come by.

For instance, you’ve been job hunting for a while, and you finally hear back about a job you really want. The recruiter reaches out and asks if you’re free to chat for a few minutes so they can ask you a few questions. “Sure!” Everything seems pretty fine.

You talk about your background and how you found this job listing. Then the recruiter asks you a question that stops you in your tracks: “So what is your Salary Expectation?

What is the Salary Expectation Question?

Simply put, a Salary Expectation Question defines an employee long-term or short-term basic contract/agreement payment model. Whereby, you can try to skirt the question with a broad answer, such as, “My salary expectations are in line with my experience and qualifications.

Or, “If this is the right job for me, I’m sure we can come to an agreement on salary.” This will show that you’re willing to negotiate by offering a range. But, no matter how great the job interview goes, an interview question about your salary expectations can stop you short.

BrighterMonday Jobs and Salary Expectation

In other words, “What are you looking for in salary terms?” is a straightforward question and yet the answer is so complex. For one thing, it’s difficult to know what to say (and what not to say). So that in the end, you receive a job offer that’s a win for both yourself and the company.

While you want to aim high, you also don’t want to aim so high that you put yourself out of the company’s salary range. If For instance, your target compensation is too low, you leave the employer room to go even lower. And you could end up feeling miserable with the lack of proper compensation.

Why is the Salary Expectation Question asked?

First, your recruiters want to know your current salary, as well as the expected salary before you even start the job interviews.

They may bring up the topic of pay at some point in the interview process. Secondly, they sometimes may ask this question during an initial phone screening, or they may hold off on discussing salary until you’ve met face-to-face.

In addition, they may also ask for your salary expectations directly. Request you to enter a number in an application form, or to respond to a predetermined salary range.

By all means, always prepare for an answer ahead of time. And in that case, do more research on average compensation for both the role and your experience level. This is to enable you to have productive and informative talks about pay with your potential employers.

When an employer asks about your salary expectations, it’s usually for three reasons;

They already have a budget at hand

The interviewer wants to make sure your compensation expectations align with the amount they’ve calculated for the job.

If they find most candidates are asking for a great deal more than intended. It might mean a larger budget is needed for the position.

They want to gauge how well you know your worth

A good candidate knows how much their skillset is worth in the market and can share it with confidence.

To determine appropriate market value, factor in your level as well as the years of experience and career achievements.

They want to determine whether you’re the appropriate candidate

An applicant who asks for a higher amount than other candidates may be too senior for the role.

However, answering with a low salary expectation could indicate you’re at a lower experience level.

What does the Employer Really Want to Know?

Why do interviewers want to know your salary expectations? Well, there are a number of ways to answer interview questions about salaries.

And therefore, it’s important to determine how best to answer this question so you can go into your interview with confidence.

Jobs and Salary Expectation Question

It’s also difficult to decide what you want for a salary before you even know what the job entails. This often happens when you’re asked to disclose a salary range requirement on an application before you’ve learned about the position with any depth.

Salary is not an easy topic, and while there may be no right answer, there is a way to prepare for the question and get what you want.

Preparation steps include:

  1. Understanding your value and defining a wish number you can justify
  2. Having a range you are comfortable with, taking into consideration other components of an offer
  3. Tailor your final ask number to the specific company

Negotiation keys:

  1. Don’t answer directly — thank them, take it offline, think about it, return with a thought-through answer
  2. No homework — No change, try to send them with homework
  3. Don’t overdo it, always stay humble, and show honest willingness and desire to sign when the gap is bridged

It’s crucial to not only provide a number you feel comfortable with but an appropriate compensation for the job based on real data. Luckily, it’s easier than ever to find this information.

By using Indeed Salaries, you can find the average salary for the position you’ve applied for. These salary estimates come from data submitted anonymously to Indeed by users. It’s collected from past and present job advertisements. For a typical salary range.

Remember to consider where the role is located and the cost-of-living in that area. For example, a job located in Los Angeles will likely pay a higher salary than the one in rural Texas.

How do I Answer a Salary Expectation Question?

Your salary expectations should factor in your seniority, experience level. The educational background or unique skills other applicants in the field may not have.

When asked about your salary expectations, you might also be asked how much you currently earn, here is a nice guide on how to talk about it. Each company has their surveys and their pay grades per title and experience level — they will do their best to make you happy in the one they pigeonholed you .

As it is problematic to have underpaid employees who will soon need a big raise or an overpaid one who can agitate the others. Here are some suggestions, with example responses. Such as;

Provide a Range 

The employer may opt for the lower end of your range. So make sure your target number is as close to the bottom number as possible.

Example: “I am seeking a position that pays between $75,000 and $80,000 annually.”

Negotiation Options 

In addition to your salary, there may be other benefits, perks or forms of compensation that are just as valuable.

Example: “I am seeking a position that pays between $75,000 and $80,000 annually. Thus am open to negotiate salary depending on benefits, bonuses, equity, stock options, and other opportunities.”

Deflect the Question 

You may want to deflect the question for later in the conversation. Example:  “I’d like to ask a few more questions to get a better idea of what the position entails. That way, I can provide a more genuine expectation.”

While discussing your ideal compensation for the first time. Make the conversation go smoothly and make sure you get a fair salary.

Always aim High 

In most cases, employers are going to start you off at the lower end of the amount you provide. By aiming higher, you can make sure that even if they offer the lowest number.

You’ll still be making your target number. For example, if you want to make Kshs. 45,000,  give a range of Kshs. 45,000 to Kshs. 50,000.

Be Confident

Some employers are interested in your answer as well as your delivery to decide the salary they opt to offer. If you’re confident and self-assured. It will show you know your worth and you’re not going to accept less than you know you deserve.

Also, having a well-formulated answer will ensure you’re not undercutting yourself or aiming over the market value.


You received a contract draft, meaning this company thinks you are good, they want you, and would love to have you join.

They hope you would accept a salary in their pay range for the experience they estimate you bring — don’t be afraid to challenge it a little, gracefully, just like Kendrick Lamar said: “Sit down, Be humble”.

And don’t forget, every decision you make is just another step in your career — think about your path, keep your eyes on the bigger goal — will this job help you get closer to it? If so, money isn’t the only variable in the equation.

Here is more on Salary Negotiation Done Right.


I hope the above-revised career guide was useful for your next job search. But, if you’ll have any additional contributions, suggestions or even more questions to this blog, please do Contact Us.

By the same token, feel free to leave your insights and feedback in the comment box below. Additionally, follow the links below for more useful and related mentorship guides;

  1. The jmexclusives Online Jobs and Career Mentorship Guides
  2. BrighterMonday Daily Job Vacancies & Careers in Kenya
  3. Kenya Business List Company: Get your Business listed Online
  4. The Balance Careers Interview Questions About Your Salary Expectations
  5. Indeed Interview Question “What are your Salary Expectations?”
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