How To Answer What Is Your Desired Salary? Tips & Examples

Christina J Colclough

By Christina Colclough

Last updated:

What is your desired rate of pay? This unexpected question from the interviewer might catch candidates off guard, leaving them surprised and confused. It is completely understandable if you find yourself feeling a bit nervous or unprepared in such a situation. 

Men Answer interview questions

Don’t fret; I’m here to help you navigate this question gracefully. Continue reading my guide to deliver an appropriate response tailored to your situation.

How To Determine Your Desired Pay

Research The Average

Just a quick search on the Internet, especially on recruitment websites, could reveal the average salary range for your position. Most websites allow you to filter results by job level or geographic location. However, company size and achievements are important variables to consider.

Another trustworthy source is the people within your professional network. Reach out to individuals with similar job titles or even those working in the company you’re applying to. However, not everyone is willing to share their personal salary information.

You can also consult recruiters or experts in the HR field; with extensive knowledge, they can provide the most accurate estimated pay for your position.

Consider Your Skill Level And Experience

Skill Level And Experience

Compare your qualifications with the job requirements to determine a reasonable offer. Undeniably, most employers prioritize academic background, and job seekers from top universities hold an important advantage in salary negotiation. Having many years working in the industry also empowers you to command a higher salary.

HR managers also take your level of skills into consideration. Of course, candidates with advanced abilities are open to a more competitive paycheck. However, you must provide evidence or pass tests to prove your qualifications. It’s important to be honest about your qualifications, as experts can usually discern the truth.

Think About Your Cost Of Living

How much do you need to cover your living expenses or support your family? The ever-increasing living conditions require you to earn more than just to make ends meet. So, it’s always a wise move to negotiate a salary rate that can cover all the costs while also allowing you to save some.

For these reasons, take time to ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much money do you spend monthly?
  • Do you have dependents? If yes, consider the additional expenses associated with your family’s needs.
  • Do you have any investment plans? For instance, are you saving for a house, car, or a college fund for your child?
  • Do you have any debts that need to be paid off soon?

Evaluate Benefits

Remember that salary negotiation goes beyond just the base salary. You should also discuss additional benefits such as health insurance, paid time off, retirement benefits, and other options. 

Let’s say your acceptable salary is $75,000. One company offers a little less but, in return, provides unlimited PTO. It is crucial to consider the overall compensation package, or you may miss a good opportunity. Your decision should depend on what benefits you prioritize.

Another approach is calculating the lowest salary you would accept to work at a business. It may or may not align with your desired salary. In simple terms, give yourself a flexible range for easier negotiation with the employer. 

How To Answer Desired Salary

answering questions during an interview

On Job Application

It is best to keep your target salary a secret until you receive an official offer. While not all employers ask for this information during the application stage, some application forms may require you to fill in your desired pay.

You can choose to leave it blank, as providing a specific number may limit the chances of salary negotiation during the interview stage. 

You can ask for a higher level if your experience and skills exceed expectations. On the other hand, once your expected salary is higher than the market average, it becomes a barrier to progressing further in the hiring process.

What if the expected salary is a compulsory field in the application form? What to put for the desired salary on the application? Just write “negotiable.” The hiring manager understands that you are open to discussing your responsibilities before making a decision. Rest assured, it’s not an unusual or rude gesture!

As for some forms that require exact numbers, you can use “000” or “999” as a placeholder. If the system demands an exact amount, your final option is to determine a loose range based on market research. However, it’s recommended to add a note somewhere on your application or resume stating that the salary is negotiable.

During Job Interview

Based on my experience, keeping your desired wage until the last minute is advisable. This way, you can get a better sense of your responsibilities and the company culture before negotiation. If you’ve not yet felt confident about settling on an exact number, employing the “delay” strategy is perfectly acceptable.

Sometimes, the best move is to ask the employer about their budget. You can even try politely requesting to discuss salary after they’ve officially decided to hire you.

Here are some sample answers:

  • “I’m still considering the full scope of the role and the contributions I can bring. What have you budgeted for this position?”
  • “I usually base my salary estimates on industry standards. Is it okay to discuss this after a comprehensive review?”

Another approach is to steer the conversation towards your qualifications. Below is a good example:

  • “I prioritize the match between my skills and job requirements. I want to share more about my attributes to clarify open issues.”

Of course, vague answers without a specific range will cause discomfort for the interviewer. This risk is worth it if you are confident about your rights.

You can provide a concise answer if you have sufficient data to confidently make an informed decision. However, ensure you have followed all the above-mentioned steps to lead you to an appropriate salary rate. Based on my experience in the HR industry, you should not provide an exact number but rather a flexible range, which opens more opportunities for discussion.

For example, begin by showcasing your strengths that make you the best candidate. Then, admit that salary is not the main drive in your career and express your passion for the company. Here’s an informed response:

  • “I have done some research on similar roles to this position in the industry. With a strong analytical background and hands-on experience doing more than the job description, I expect to be able to earn [salary range Of course, it is just an additional factor. I am willing to discuss your company’s benefits package and development opportunities further.”

Job Offer Stage

It is the perfect time to talk about the amount you expect. While recruiters might inform you of your salary along with the job offer, it does not mean you have to accept it. You have gained a certain advantage since the company has targeted you as their well-suited candidate. If you are not satisfied with the number given, don’t be afraid to have an open and honest conversation about it.

Show them you understand their perspective with your empathy, and then let them know you’re really interested in the position if you can come to an agreement. For instance:

  • “I’m in the middle of the salary negotiation phase for another job offer. Honestly, I value your projects and culture and desire to jump into your company with both feet. I understand that you’ve made an informed decision on your budget, and my requirements may cause some disturbance. I appreciate your reconsideration, which resulted in mutual agreement to reinforce my decision.”

Tips When Negotiating Salary

You have almost mastered the strategies needed to give an accurate answer about your compensation expectations in different situations. However, you can do even better with my tips.

job Interview

Stay Confident

Maintaining a confident attitude throughout conversations with employers is key to a successful deal. You should demonstrate that you understand your responsibilities and core attributes to value yourself in the job market. Any sign of uncertainty in your response could mean missing out on the salary rate that you deserve.

Choose Your Range Wisely

As mentioned above, giving a range instead of numbers is the best strategy. This way, you avoid anchoring the negotiation at a lower number. Doing more research on the typical salaries for the position will help you develop a reasonable range, increasing your chance of landing on the higher end when the offer comes in.

For example, if you think $45,000 is fair compensation for your future responsibilities, mention your desired salary range between $40,000 – $52,000 during negotiations. 

Don’t Do Tricks

If you cannot accept the offer, notify them regardless of whether the employer agrees to your request. No one wants to waste time on a candidate who is not committed to their business. Providing early notice shows your professionalism and saves both parties time and effort.


Why Do Recruiters Ask About Your Desired Salary?

Recruiters inquire about your expected salary to:

  • Prepare for the negotiation stage after shortlisting the applicants.
  • Balance their budget with your expectations.
  • Assess your seniority in the industry.
  • Evaluate candidates’ priorities and cross out those with high compensation expectations.

Is Asking Salary Question Normal?

Yes, it is common to mention this issue during the hiring process. If you are uncomfortable responding before you receive the offer, feel free to delay your answer politely.

See more interview tips:

For Interview Question:


The question about your desired salary is common during the recruitment process. You’d better equip yourself with a great response in all situations. Now, sit back and research to determine your expected income within a flexible range. Then, ask yourself whether you’re willing to reveal it during the interview process. If you still have other questions, I’m here to help you navigate your hiring process!

Share on:
Christina J Colclough

Christina J. Colclough

Dr Christina J. Colclough is an expert on The Future World of Work and the politics of digital technology advocating globally for the importance of the workers’ voice. She has extensive regional and global labour movement experience, is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach, and strategist advising progressive governments and worker organisations.

Leave a Comment