How to Answer ‘What Are Your Salary Expectations’ in an Interview

What are your salary expectations? The answer to this question can be tricky when posed by a recruiter or hiring manager during an interview, but it is easy when you pay attention to details.

You don’t want to say something too high and price yourself out of a job you want or need, and you don’t want to say something too low and end up not getting paid as much as you could or should be making.

In this article, we discuss why employers ask the question “What are your salary expectations” in an interview, and how to answer questions about salary expectations, with examples and tips.

Key Tips:

  • Research salaries: Prior to a job interview, you should research the average salary range of the position you are interviewing for. 
  • Consider your salary needs: Find out how much you need to live comfortably and pay your bills, so you can estimate what your minimum salary needs to be.
  • Be prepared to negotiate: Employers typically expect applicants to negotiate and counteroffer.
Why do employers ask about salary expectations?

When an employer asks about your salary expectations, it’s usually for one or more of three reasons:

  • They want to gauge how well you know your worth. A good candidate knows how much their skill set is worth in the market and can share it with confidence. To determine appropriate market value, factor in your level, years of experience, and career achievements.
  • They have a budget. The interviewer wants to make sure your compensation expectations align with what they’ve calculated for the job. If they find most candidates are asking for more than anticipated, it might mean requesting a larger budget for the position.
  • They want to determine whether you’re at the appropriate professional level. An applicant who asks for a significantly higher amount than other candidates may be too senior for the role. Alternatively, answering with a salary expectation on the low end could indicate you’re at a lower experience level than the job requires.
How to answer salary expectation questions

While a question about your salary expectations is one of the more straightforward things employers ask during a job interview, it can be stressful to talk about money. You can manage this stress by preparing your answers to salary-related questions. 

Here are some suggestions on how to answer “What are your salary expectations?”, with example responses:

What are your salary expectations?

Do some research online to see what others are making with this job title. You’ll probably find a broad range depending on location, experience, and education. This can give you a very basis of what you can list as your desired salary.

You’ll also need to consider your cost of living. If you live in an expensive city or plan to move to one, that should factor into how much you ask for when discussing salary.

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Provide a price range

If you don’t feel comfortable providing a single number, you may choose to offer a range. Keep in mind, however, that 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. Also, keep your range somewhat tight with a variance of no more than N50,000 to N100,000.

Example: “I am seeking a position that pays between N100,000 and N150,000 monthly.”

Pro tip: When deciding on your expected salary range for a job you’ve applied for, it can be helpful to think about the best-case and worst-case scenarios. What salary offer would you accept, and what salary offer would you walk away from? 

Include negotiation options

In addition to your salary, there may be other benefits, bonuses, or forms of compensation you consider just as valuable. Including these as possible opportunities for negotiation is an option, too. For example, while the employer may not have budgeted enough for your ideal salary range, they may be willing to offer equity in the company to make the compensation package more attractive to you.

Example: “I am seeking a position that pays between N100,000 and N150,000 monthly, but I am open to negotiating salary depending on benefits, bonuses, equity, stock options, and other opportunities.”

Deflect the question

If you’re still early in the hiring process and still learning the specifics about the job duties and expectations, you may want to deflect the question for later in the conversation. However, keep in mind you’ll still eventually have to discuss salary expectations. Either way, it’s a good idea to be prepared with a well-researched number in mind, even if you’re still factoring in additional information.

Example: “Before I answer, 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 realistic expectation.”

What is your salary expectation?

Example answers for salary questions

Here are a few more examples to provide you with more context as you research average salaries and determine what response is best for you.

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Example 1

“While I am certainly flexible, I am looking to receive between N1,200,000 and N1,800,000 annually. Due to my skill set and experience level, I feel that this is a comfortable and appropriate range for my work.”

Example 2

“My baseline salary requirement is N300,000. I feel that the value and expertise I can bring to this role support my compensation expectations. Is this in line with your thoughts?”

Example 3

“Let me start by reiterating how grateful I am for the benefits this job offers such as generous paid time off and health benefits. That being said, I am expecting my salary for this position to fall between N2M – N2.5M annually. My rich background in client services specific to this industry can play a role in strengthening the organization.”

Example 4

“Thank you for asking. I feel that an annual salary between N1.2M and N1.8M is in line with the industry average and reflects my skills and experience level well. I am, however, flexible and open to hearing about the company’s compensation expectations for this position.”

Explore Career Tips
Things You Should Not Do in Salary Negotiation

These tips will help you when negotiating job offers and will help you get the best salary possible:

Don’t look at how much your friends are making – It is very wrong and unprofessional to compare your salary with that of your friends or colleagues when negotiating. Make your case for yourself and only use YOUR accomplishments as justification for your salary request. 

Don’t be afraid – Be confident when negotiating, as long as you know what you’re bringing to the table then why not? Don’t be afraid to ask about other benefits the company can provide, as well as future raises and bonuses. 

Don’t rush the conversation – You’re not required to accept, reject or counter a job offer on the spot. When asked the question “What are your salary expectations?” take a few seconds or even minutes to think about it. When giving your answer, say “Considering the Job description and workload…..” This will positively influence your offer and give room for negotiation. If you’re given an offer on the spot, don’t rush to accept, think and give a beautiful reply.

Don’t talk about your expenses – Don’t explain the story of your life when negotiating salary with a potential employer or current employer – this doesn’t work. Although these concerns may have been the motivation for trying to negotiate your salary in the first place, they are irrelevant to the employer. 

Don’t be a dictator – It’s a conversation, don’t drop a figure and say “that’s it”.  Money is a sensitive subject, but you should never let a company have full control over your worth. Be both knowledgeable and understanding when discussing a salary negotiation.

Remember that you bring value to any company you work for. Figuring out what that value is and telling potential employers will only help you ultimately get the pay you deserve. Interviewing may be an inevitable part of the job search, but doesn’t need to be dreadful or painful. Think of them as opportunities for new doors to open and new experiences to be had. 

Instead of letting your nerves get the best of you during an interview, use our guides above to prepare for a response. You may also need to learn how to avoid fake interview invitations as well as what to do after an interview to increase your chance of standing out. Check out job opportunities from across the country, as well as job-search tips to assist in your endeavors.

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