Expected Salary Interview Question

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Learn how to answer the expected salary question. When the hiring manager asks "what are your salary expectations?" you will know how to answer this interview question in a tactful way. If you want to learn how to negotiate your salary then this lesson is for you!

Ever get the salary expectation question in interviews? And if so, had you answered in a way that left you feeling vulnerable and exposed for the remainder of the interview? 

If you’re enthusiastically nodding right now, then you’re going to love my tips for answering this type of question in an empowering way. And be sure to watch the video if you want a pep talk before an upcoming interview. If you’re the hiring manager, you might also want to tune in for this one. 

How much should we pay you? What’s your expected salary? Tell me your target salary? What compensation are you looking for?

On my list of annoying interview questions is that super dreadful one. Salary expectation.  

This is a trap. 

Do not disclose your current or your desired salary. 

So, you might be thinking, how, then am I supposed to answer this question?

Here’s how.

Tell me what the range is for this role and I’ll you know if that is aligned with what I’m looking for.

BOOM! Empower yourself! And now the ball is in their court.  

Why do hiring managers have the audacity to ask such a personal question? 

Their argument is usually: “Well, we just want to make sure we’re not wasting each other’s time.” So, you say “Alright, let me know what your range is and I’ll get back to you if those numbers work for me.” 

Bottom line: they have a business and they know what this position is worth to them. Ergo, they have a salary range.They have the information advantage.

You, on the other hand are much less familiar with their business and you don’t know what this position is worth to them. Giving them a numerical response for what your expected salary is puts you in a tremendously vulnerable position. 

Yet, we still get asked this question.


  • To ensure that you aren’t wasting their time with unrealistic expectations
  • To ensure that if you have a lower range than they were planning to give you that they can lock you into that lower range

Once locked in, you have zero negotiating power. You must wait to be able to get a raise, if and when the time comes. 

Pay mind that you might get a similar question in the form of: 

What were you paid in your previous job?  What are you currently making?

Another trap. This is illegal in many states in the US and other parts of the world.

Here’s how to deal with this question:

I prefer not to disclose for confidentiality reasons. The places I worked would not want this information released. 

Not only is the salary question an unfair one, it also does not reflect well on the company. By asking that question they’re implying you’re a cog in a machine that they’re trying to maximize output from versus talent that they are trying to retain and cultivate. It exposes the employer’s attitude towards their employees. 

If you get this question in an interview, you can ask yourself the following: 

Do they care about you as a person? Or do they treat you as a tool?

Are they working with you or are they working against you?  Do they view you as a liability or an asset?

If they are trying to walk you into a salary that’s lower than you deserve relative to the value you’re generating, then they clearly think of you as an expense. 

If you’re a hiring manager reading this, I encourage you to think twice about your motivation behind asking this question and your attitude vis-à-vis the hardworking people at your company.

Bottom line: 

This question should never come up in an interview. They should always offer you the salary because they have a salary range. Let them broach the subject. If they haven’t decided what the value of this role is, then they’re not ready to hire for it. Simple as that.

The next time you’re prepping for an interview, keep these answers in mind. Don’t fall for the trap and stand your ground. You are under no obligation to give them your desired salary. If they want you badly enough, they’ll tell you their offer and it’s up to you to decide if it’s worth your time. You owe yourself that much.

Happy Explearning 🌠