How to Answer: “What Is Your Expected Salary?”

When employers ask “what is your expected salary?” or  “desired salary?” or “Minimum salary?” most of the time they’re trying to make sure that they have the salary budget to match your interests.

Your goal is to put a range that gets you the most money while staying within their budget. Most employers have a salary band for each level of seniority. If you put a salary range that is lower than the salary band, employers might think that you’re less experienced than the role qualifies you for. If you put a salary range that is dramatically above the salary bank, an employer might think you’re overqualified for this role.

Here’s what you do to prepare for this question:

  1. Go to Glassdoor, Payscale, levels.fyi, Indeed, Linkedin, or other salary sources to estimate the salary for this position at this company.
  2. If you can’t find the salary for the company, you can use Payscale and Linkedin to estimate the salary based on the industry and years of experience required.

Here’s how to answer salary questions on an application:

  1. If it’s not required, leave the question blank. Recruiters care more about your skills than your salary range. They’re going to check you have the required skills first and are unlikely to weed you out if you have the skills, but no salary requirement
  2. If it’s required, try to put “negotiable.”
  3. If you can’t put “negotiable,” try to put a range. If you have to put a number, pick the average number you’ve found from your research.

Here’s how to answer salary questions in a first round interview:

  1. Try to punt it:
    • “I’m looking for a competitive offer that includes benefits and other kinds of compensation, but I’d like to know more about the specifics of what this job requires first.”
    • “Based on my research on Glassdoor or Payscale showing the range of competitive salaries for this position, I feel confident we can align on salary expectations”
  2. If they really push, you can ask:
    • “Do you have a sense of the budget or salary range for this position?”
  3. If the recruiter is really stubborn and says that you cannot continue without providing a salary range, then provide a salary range:
    • “Depending on the role responsibilities, I’m looking for a salary somewhere ranging from “X to Y.”
    • Not sure what a good range is? Subtract $5K from the average—that’s your X. Add $15K to the average, that’s your Y.

To summarize:

  1. Try your best to avoid answering your salary preference until you have a verbal offer.
  2. Use resources like Glassdoor, Payscale, Linkedin, and Indeed to figure out what the average salary range for a specific role is. You can use the industry average when you can’t find the data for a specific company.
  3. If you have to share a salary preference, try to share a salary range.