How to Answer, ‘What’s Your Expected Salary?’

How to Answer, ‘What’s Your Expected Salary?’

It’s always an awkward moment in an interview if the subject comes up: What’s your expected salary or rate of pay for the job you’re interested in? 

The interview might be the first time salary is mentioned — not all companies will put salary range or any benefit information in their job ad — and it’s hard to know the right way to answer. As a candidate hoping to land the job, you don’t want to say too much and take yourself out of the running, but you don’t want to sell yourself short either. 

Here are a few ways to prepare for, and answer the inevitable question.

  • Do some research. When you’re preparing for the interview and learning more about the company, take a few moments to research the salary range for the job and title you’re applying for and get a sense of what’s reasonable. Understand that some people on the higher end of that range might have more experience than you, but also that people on the low end might be brand new to the position or with less hands-on experience, either on that particular kind of work or to work in general. Let all those factors determine how much you think is fair. 
  • Consider how much you make now. Most people leave jobs with the hopes of increasing their take-home pay. If the rage you’ve found is above what you’re making now, you’re already ahead of the game. Devise a number you like and keep it in mind. 
  • State that you’re flexible. When the question is asked, lead with flexibility. Underscore that you’re excited about the opportunity to join this company — and give reasons why if you can be specific about it — and then say you’d like to earn a salary within a range of a few thousand dollars per year. You’ll have an informed range thanks to doing your research and can be confident in knowing this is a reasonable number. 
  • Consider where you live. If you’d be moving for the job, factor that in. The cost of living might be higher or lower than where you’re coming from. If you’re staying within your city, and the salary ranges you’re looking for are from larger metropolitan areas, acknowledge that. Be fair — when you give the range you’re interested in, mention these factors to further show you’ve done your homework. 
  • Or try flipping the question around. If it comes up later in the interview, when you’ve answered other questions and have discussed your background and experience, answer the interviewer’s question with a question. Based on the job’s expected responsibilities and your experience, what salary range does the company normally offer for this position? You might be pleasantly surprised by the answer. Or, if it’s lower than you were hoping, you’ll be making an informed decision about whether to stay in the running for the position or politely decline. 


Salary negotiations are always an option but can be a delicate dance. While more companies are starting to put salary ranges in their job descriptions, plenty still avoid doing that. Having the conversation might feel a little strange but you and the company both will be on more solid footing by having it. 

If the company isn’t ready to meet you where you feel you deserve to be, consider contacting LeadingEdge Personnel. We have great jobs available right now on our job board and would be happy to help you set up interviews with some of our partners. Give LeadingEdge a call today and let’s get to work.

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