Most people go to work to make money - but there's more involved in your salary

While money plays a huge part in whether a job sparks your interest, there are other things to consider. These include company culture, work-life balance, and opportunities for growth. Those things aside, you'll likely hear a question during an interview that asks you how much you want to be paid. 

This is one of the toughest questions for job seekers to navigate. If you do some research and walk in knowing your worth, you'll be able to give the best answer to “What are your salary expectations?” in an interview.

What does the interviewer hope to learn?

In most cases, companies have a pre-set range that they can offer to new hires for a particular role. This would make the question “How much do you want to make?” seem irrelevant. However, hiring managers ask interviewees about salary expectations for a few reasons. 

  1. They want to ensure that the candidate's salary expectations are in line with what the company can offer

  2. They want to gauge the candidate's level of experience and expertise based on their salary expectations

  3. They want to ensure that the candidate is not overqualified or underqualified for the position

If you walk into an interview knowing the average salary for a particular role and what you're worth based on your experience, education, and skills, you'll exude confidence and will be able to successfully negotiate a salary. 

Do Your Research

Before going into a job interview, it's important to do your research and have a clear idea of what the average salary range is for the position. This can be done by researching industry standards and looking at job postings for similar positions. Start by checking salary data websites, consulting industry reports, talking to professionals in your field, and considering your own experience. 

You can expand your knowledge by analyzing the company's size, location, and benefits package, as well as the level of experience required for the role. For example, if you're applying for an entry-level position, you can't walk into the interview expecting that the salary will be at the top of the industry charts. 

Consider Other Factors

While salary is a critical consideration, it's not the only factor that should be taken into account. Things like benefits, work-life balance, and opportunities for growth and development are also key factors of any compensation package.


Many companies offer benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off. These benefits can significantly impact your overall compensation package and should be taken into account when evaluating a job offer. For example, a job with a lower salary but excellent health benefits and vacation time may be more appealing than a job with a higher salary and no benefits.

Work-life balance

A job that offers a good work-life balance can be invaluable, especially if you have family or personal obligations outside of work. This can include things like flexible working hours and remote work options. When evaluating a job offer, consider whether the company's work-life balance policies align with your personal needs and priorities.

Opportunities for growth

A job that offers opportunities for career growth and development can be a valuable investment in your future. This can include things like training programs, mentorship opportunities, and clear paths for advancement within the company. 

Company culture

Company culture is another important factor to consider. A toxic work environment can quickly erode job satisfaction and lead to burnout. A positive company culture, on the other hand, can foster a sense of community and make work feel like less like a chore.

Redirect the salary expectations question

Your first line of defense when the salary question comes up is to redirect it. Avoid giving a specific number if possible and, instead, provide a range that you would be comfortable with. By redirecting the salary expectations question and offering a range of pay, you can demonstrate your professionalism, research skills, and willingness to be flexible. 

Here are a few tips to accomplish this redirection:

  • Acknowledge the question: Begin by acknowledging the question and expressing your interest in the position. You could say something like, "I appreciate your asking about my salary expectations, as I'm very interested in this role."

  • Ask for more information: Ask the hiring manager for more information about the position, such as the specific responsibilities and requirements. This can help you to better understand what the position entails and what level of compensation may be appropriate.

  • Offer a range of pay: Based on the information you've gathered, offer a range of pay that's appropriate for the position. For example, you could say, "Based on my research and experience, I'm looking for a salary in the range of $X to $Y." This shows that you've done your research and have a realistic understanding of what you should be paid.

  • Be flexible: It's important to be flexible when offering a range of pay. Keep in mind that there may be other factors that could influence your compensation, such as benefits, bonuses, and career growth opportunities. You could say something like, "Of course, I'm open to discussing the specifics of the compensation package, and I'm excited about the potential for growth and development in this position."

Practice Your Response

Practice your response to questions about salary expectations, so that you feel comfortable and confident during the interview. This can help you to avoid feeling flustered or caught off guard. 

To help you out, here are a couple of “What is your salary expectation?” answer examples:

"I'm open to discussing salary. After performing stringent research on the topic, I understand that in this region the salary range for this role is $X to $Y. On top of that, I know that salary is more than what is reflected on a paycheck and am excited to explore the compensation package with you, including benefits and opportunities for growth, as these are just as important to me as money."

"Thank you for considering my salary expectations. While salary is important, it's not the only factor I'm considering as I evaluate this opportunity. I'm looking for a company that values work-life balance and career growth, and offers a comprehensive benefits package. With that said, based on my experience and industry research, I seek a salary that falls between $X and $Y. Of course, I'm open to further discussion and negotiation on this topic."

Don't Be Afraid to Negotiate

Negotiating salary is a normal part of the job search process. In fact, employers are consistently surprised by the number of job seekers who do not negotiate salary. If the job offer doesn't meet your salary expectations, don't be afraid to negotiate

Be professional and respectful, and provide reasons why you feel that your salary expectations are reasonable. Lean on the research you've performed and be confident of your worth. Leverage career accomplishments to show the hiring manager why you deserve a specific amount, but be willing to compromise. Remember, a salary is more than just dollars and cents. 

Key takeaways

By performing relevant research, considering the whole compensation package, and being open to negotiation, you can walk away with an offer that matches your expectations. Remember to be confident when discussing salary expectations, know your worth, and always ask, “Is this salary offer negotiable?”

Why not submit your resume for a free resume review to get yourself into the interview room faster? We'll help you to put your best foot forward as you walk along your career path. 

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