“What Are Your Salary Requirements?”: Don’t Just Tell What You Want

Why do you need to decide how much you’re worth? Why do employers ask about salary expectations? How to calculate your salary?  How to state your expected salary? What Not to Say?

You probably want to ensure that you’re being paid fairly, especially when you’re negotiating the salary of a potential job. In this case, according to economic experts, you may want to determine your market value to have the best outcome – and income – you deserve.

“It’s really important to be well-calibrated before you go into a negotiation about what you should be asking for. You’ll be at a real disadvantage if you ask for too little or too much.”, according to Linda Babcock, an economics professor at Carnegie Mellon University.

So, a few things in the Job Application section is to bear in mind to answer the What are your salary requirements? question from interviewers.

Why You Need to Decide How Much You’re Worth

You deserve a fair salary, which depends on various factors, namely your experience, competence, and location. Thus, negotiation for a fair rate is a must to ensure your benefits, especially when you decide to sign a fixed-term contract.

Why You Need to Decide How Much You’re Worth
You deserve a lucrative income – Source: Sharon McCutcheon

Besides, this is also a common question in an interview process, which means one may need to decide “how much should I make?” to get a job with decent pay. Recruiters may pose questions concerning salary during an initial phone interview, or they may wait until you meet in person before negotiating a wage. 

While this salary matter is something of concern to most people, it can be stressful for us to talk about money. However, you may reduce the stress by planning how you can pose or react to salary-related questions. You will have insightful and fruitful salary discussions with employers if you research the average salary for both the job and your experience level.

Why Employers Ask About Salary Expectations

There are three reasons why an employer may inquire about your salary expectations:

  • They have a budget plan. The interviewer needs to make sure the salary requirements match the sum they’ve estimated for the position. If they discover that most candidates are calling for even more than anticipated, they will need to request a bigger budget for the job.
  • They want to see if you know what you’re worth. A potential candidate understands the business value of their skillset and will confidently discuss it. If you can mention your years of experience, professional accomplishments and ask for an agreeable rate accordingly, you may be considered someone who knows their market worth.
  • They’re looking to see if you’re at the right professional level. A candidate who requests a considerably higher salary than other applicants might be overqualified for the position. Alternatively, responding with a low pay expectation may mean that you have less experience than the position needs.
Why Employers Ask About Salary Expectations
An interviewer needs to know if you are a good fit – Source: Tim Gouw

Your response to this question may be the start of a wage negotiation. As a result, you’ll want to make sure your answer is well-researched, professional, and agreeable.

How To Calculate Your Salary 

Have you ever wondered, “how much should I make?”

When crafting a response about your salary requirements, it’s critical to have not just a figure you feel right but the fair pay for the work based on objective evidence. Fortunately, finding this information is now simpler than ever.

One way to get a customized pay scale based on your position, profession, and experience is by using various online Salary Calculators tools. You can also lookup the average salary for the job you’ve applied for, using search engines like Google. Verify the validity of what you read since these salary estimates may be based on anonymous data, which may or may not be realistic or up to date.

How To Calculate Your Salary
You can look up the average salary for the job on the Internet – Source: Carlos Muza

Additionally, you might be interested in reading from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an online database that includes the average mean wage for over 800 jobs. However, Economic professor Babcock claims it is less accurate than other online resources. 


On top of that, jobandedu involves articles about numerous related jobs and their expected pay based on recent data concerning seniority, regions, and knowledge background. Searching for job names on jobandedu.com will also give you an indication about what employers are paying for related positions, which can help you to decide “how much should I make?”.

“A lot of these websites have pretty detailed information in different kinds of jobs that can give you an estimate of a good range for your job title and years of experience,” Babcock states.

However, please stay objective towards the data you find and take into account your current pay rate, including wages, bonuses, and perks, before calculating salary expectations in your career. It will help to ask yourself these questions: How much should I make? What is my desired pay rate? Which benefits are the most important to me? What other perks pique my interest? 

Finally, it helps if you considered your current or latest job. You should be able to pinpoint what you’re getting or losing in terms of compensation when you’re shifting career paths or applying for a position at a business that’s organized differently from your previous employer, hence deciding agreeable salary requirements.

How To State Your Expected Salary 

Experts advise delaying the salary matter for as long as possible, so you can have time to get more information. Here are a few tips on how to strategically postpone answering the question “What are your salary requirements?”

What Are Your Salary Requirements?- How to State Your Expected Salary
Experts advise delaying the salary matter for as long as possible – Source: Christina @ wocintechchat.com

Say you’re flexible:

You can attempt to approach the question with a broad answer like, “My salary requirements are in line with my experience and qualifications.” or “I’m sure we will come to an agreement on salary if this is the right job for me.”. This will indicate your willingness to negotiate.

Provide a range, not an exact number:

Even if you begin by highlighting your flexibility, most employers would want to hear precise figures. In this scenario, give them a range (about $10,000-$20,000 plus or minus). This estimation will enable you to be agile but also providing a straightforward response to the employer. It would help if you made this range based on previous findings or your market knowledge.

Only give numbers you’d be comfortable with, and add 20%:

Firstly, it is a range that gives you the means to support yourself and your family. Secondly, the 20 percent cushion provides a buffer zone in case they give the counter-offer. Maybe the company will come up with a lower number, but since you’ve already padded your request by 20%, their price will most likely fall into the range you’re looking for.

Emphasize your abilities and expertise:

You should subtly stress why you’re a good candidate for the job in your answer. “Based on my ten years of expertise in this industry, I would expect a salary in the range of $Y to $Z,” you might suggest. Remind the interviewer that he or she should give you a wage in the first place before discussing any figures. Make sure you don’t go overboard with the numbers, or you’ll be deemed overqualified.

Deflect the question:

If you’re new in the recruiting process, you may want to defer the question until later. Bear in mind, though, that you’ll have to talk about pay goals at some point.

E.g., “Before I answer, I’d like to ask a few more questions to get a better understanding of the job requirements. That way, I’ll be able to set a more reasonable expectation.”

Be prepared to negotiate:

Many applicants are afraid to speak up for more money because they worry about losing a job opportunity. You can, however, be able to negotiate a higher starting wage. Put off on asking until you have an offer to consider.

Be confident: 

Some employers are interested in both the content and presentation of the response. If you’re positive and self-assured, it’ll prove that you know what you’re worth. Thus, employers will understand that while you’re willing to negotiate, you won’t settle for less than you know you deserve. If you want to move forward on the career ladder by selling yourself short, you could end up making too little money to support yourself.

What Not To Say What Are Your Salary Requirements?

If you want to have an effective interview, it might be better to avoid the following things concerning the salary requirements.

What Not To Say
There are things not to say when negotiating salary – Source: Jp Valery

Giving a fixed number. Negotiation would be more in your favor if you delay discussing a specific wage until the boss does.

Setting your expectations too high. Don’t ask for a $100,000 salary if researches show the job is only worth $50,000 on average. You may cost yourself a job offer if you demand too high.

Being negative. Even if the offering appears insultingly low, answer with grace and clarify if there is room for negotiation.

Example Answers For “What Are Your Salary Requirements?”

Here are a few examples to help you craft an unfailing response to the questions, applying the tips provided above.

E.g.1 “I am seeking a position that pays between $75,000 and $80,000 annually, but I am open to negotiate salary depending on benefits, bonuses, equity, stock options, and other opportunities.”

E.g.2 “My salary range is flexible. Of course, I’d like to be reasonably paid for my ten years of experience and award-winning sales records. However, once we’ve talked through the details of the job, I’m willing to discuss specific numbers. If this is the right job for me, I’m sure we can come to an agreement on salary.”

E.g.3 “I’d like to learn more about the specific duties required of this position, which I look forward to in this interview. However, based on my experience in this field and my research on the current market, I understand that mid 70s to low 90s is a competitive range in our region. Again, I’m willing to discuss these numbers with you.”

What Are Your Salary Requirements?
Applying tips to successfully negotiate your salary – Source: Cytonn Photography

E.g.4 “I’m open to discussing what you believe to be a fair salary for the position. However, my research indicates that in this environment and this location, mid-50s to low-70s is a reasonable range. Again, I’m open to discussing these numbers with you.”

E.g.5 “Let me begin by expressing my gratitude for the opportunities that this position provides, including generous paid days off and health benefits. That being said, I estimate my annual salary for this job to be between $45,000 and $50,000. My extensive experience with customer services, especially in this field, will contribute to strengthening the organization.”

Conclusion What Are Your Salary Requirements?

“What are your salary requirements?” sure is one of the most common questions that often stumps job candidates. However, with adequate preparation, you can nail an interview, including answering that question. With a well-prepared answer, you will help the interviewer understand if you’re a suitable applicant and decide what kind of pay would entice you to get you on board. 

Do you need more advice to slay an interview with tricky questions? Help yourself out with our insightful articles.

Emmanuel Davies

Most of Emmanuel Davies's professional life has been spent in education. Early in the year 2020, he teamed up with JobandEdu, getting a career counselor writer role and contributing such as career overview, employment counseling, and workplace culture. Davies has deep expertise in the academic and career advisor position gained via past roles at diverse establishments and foundations. Consequently, he plans to use writing to disseminate his knowledge and counsel to the masses.