Enter your search term

Search by title or post keyword

How to Answer “What Are Your Salary Expectations?”

image of a three bar image for the table of contents on www.myjobsearch.com posts

Our website is supported by our users. We sometimes earn affiliate links when you click through the affiliate links on our website

Contact us for Questions

When employers ask about your salary expectations, it conjures up a great deal.

Everything you’ve read and heard about what not to do in an interview.

No matter who asks, the discussion is inevitable.

And, you should expect the employer will ask.

Moreover, though, is how you answer—no matter when the question arises.

What you must do is hold on to that card as long as you can throughout each stage of an interview.

Discussing your expectations or your current salary is stressful for many people.

The point being, your salary expectations are not something you want to share.

The biggest motivator is to preserve your advancement in the interview.

About the Question and Its History

Employers usually have different reasons for asking about your income requirements.

Some rationale is plausible. Other justifications are grounds for setting a historical precedent.

Like, the rise of the Equal Pay Act of 1963.

That prohibits discrimination of gender pay inequality, an act enforced by the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The EEOC upholds legislation enacted by Congress, ensuring equal and fair employment opportunities for all U. S. citizens.

They regulate employers and employees from discriminating against groups of people.

The laws protect people of different ages, ethnicity, gender, sex, religion, and disabilities.

The Hiring Budget

There are a couple of reasons employers inquire about your salary expectations.

Employers asking for salary information in an interview could face a discrimination lawsuit.

They’re confirming your salary requirements are within their allowable budget for the year or are measuring your salary expectations against the other candidates in line to interview.

That could be bad news, though.

If other candidates ask for more or less than you, the employer may disqualify you.

You may have thought asking for less was a good negotiating tool.

But ask too little, then you risk employers thinking you are not worth the money they are willing to pay.

They could also omit you from the pool of candidates for expecting too high a salary.

A Big Problem

Unfortunately, employers that use that method don’t get an accurate representation of salaries.

That’s because employers use the interview process as a bargaining chip, trying to get you to accept the low end of their pay scale.

Something far more straightforward than using per capita values or existing data available.

In short, their sample size is too small to assess across genders.

That said, wage disparities are still on the rise in corporate America.

As of January 1, 2021, 19 U. S. states outlawing employers from asking about salary history.

Things to Avoid

Wage disparities are among the most significant problems across genders and ethnic groups.

That the Supreme Court found in favor of Brennen in the 1974 Corning Glass Works case.

Having violated the Equal Pay Act.

Corning Glass failed to take action from 1966 to 1969, leaving female day-shift inspectors earning less than their male counterpart inspectors on night-shift.

The ruling found that the inspection work was the same, despite working day or night.

In direct violation of the Equal Pay Act.

Whereby Corning Glass argued a collective bargaining agreement somehow remedied the pay disparage.

The court disagreed.

It’s cases like these that make talking about salary so tricky during a new job interview.

How to Determine Salary on an Application

Research wage data by paying a visit to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (U. S. BLS).

There, you will find pay rates across occupations.

An opportunity to research wages in your field nationwide or by state.

While the U. S. BLS had little success in decades past, keeping up with current salary trends.

They have gained a great deal of knowledge from private industry in recent years.

So, you’ll find the BLS made great strides and wage data that is only two years out-of-date.

Furthermore, the BLS strives to release new data across industries, fields, and sectors.

You can find more on subjects, like the cost of living, and growing occupations and industries.

The available data will help you find new places to live and thrive in the United States.

Other Online Tools

Check your state unemployment office or visit an unemployment office in your county.

Both sources can help you find accurate data from local and regional employers.

what are your salary expectations

How to Answer Questions About Salary Expectations

As a candidate, expect to encounter employers that ask for your current salary.

The below examples can guide you to answering the intrusive salary question.

Examples of How to Answer

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I want to work for a company that makes me feel as though I’m the cheapest deal?”

Of course not.

No one wants to work for an employer looking for a bargain rate with top skills.

Here are some scenarios to consider—things to keep in mind when headed to negotiate your salary.

Use these three points when negotiating salary.

  • Experience level
  • Job market outlook
  • Fair market value for a fair salary

Uncertainty is the Card You Hold Onto

The potential employer is still uncertain about you as the team’s newest member.

They ask you to return for another round of interviews.

One member of a team asks what you are currently making.

Your best leverage is to put the question back on them.

Your best bet is to respond with a casual tone of voice too.

And reply with, “where are you at in the hiring process right now?” 

The tactic will take you to the next level of the interview process.

After all, your goal is to get the salary negotiation moving and win the job offer.

Shy Away From Lowering Your Salary

The biggest temptation candidates have is lowering their salary requirements.

Unfortunately, no one, not even you, should sell yourself short.

Some companies jump at the chance to save a dollar for a high-quality new hire but try to think of the interview as a date.

Would you want to see them again if they insisted you paid for dinner when they asked you out?

Don’t Price Yourself Out of a Job

When applying to an online job posting, some employers today put applicants right on the spot.

Asking for a specific number and requiring the cell have numbers only entered.

Your goal here is to shoot for an average salary.

Because if you bid too high, you could find yourself cut as a possible candidate.

So, be careful not to price yourself out of a job; aim for a solid ballpark figure.

Hold off as long as you can to have a chance to make a good impression.

If you go too high or too low, you could be out of the running for the position.

Tips to Answer this Question

Many applicants know to practice before an interview.

Not everyone knows to practice using the STAR method. 

The acronym stands for situation, task, action, and result.

The idea is for interviewees to respond in a format using STAR.

The plan is to respond to situational and behavioral interview questions.

Behavioral questions get at how a candidate handles interoffice dynamics.

Most behavioral questions begin with:

  • Tell me …
  • Describe a time …
  • Give an example …
  • Have you ever …
  • How did you …

Answer using the STAR format.

Telling an experience says a great deal about you.

Such as how to assess your problem-solving skills.

How you might disarm an upset customer—whether interoffice or an external customer.

Here is some common STAR question to look out for:

Situational – Describes a scenario in detail.
The idea is for the interviewee to retell a work experience that connects to the question.

Task – Assess the situation taking on the task.
By responding to the interviewer’s scenario should help you determine the job responsibilities.

Action – Respond with action, drilling down further into the steps taken to overcome the challenge.
That way, you show you’re bringing value to the employer.

Result – Detail the final results. End your response by describing the outcome.
Be sure to give the results in numbers.

What Not to Say

Employer questions designed to challenge you, take careful thought to answer.

Listening helps slow down your think to avoid answering too fast.

That way, you’re not likely to respond wrong.

For example, if asked to talk about a time when you solved a conflict.

So, when an employer asks how you handle customer complaints.

Don’t retell a store about breaking up a dog fight as a pet sitter.

The employer is looking for how well you speak and what are your problem-solving skills.

Choose an event that best suits the employer’s question.

Then change your responses to fit a similar question.


The question about your salary range might seem fair for the recruiter to ask.

The topic is always a stressful one.

Your best solution to the stress is exposure.

Thus, preparing for your interview can help you answer that pesky salary-related question.

The good news, states are banning employers from asking questions about salary, putting an end to the industry practice altogether.

Leave a Comment

Back to all Posts

Explore More within MyJobSearch

My Job Search
Get to work faster with jobs for felons curated for you.
post explore
post explore

Explore Resumes

Browse our templates to find one that matches your personality.