Home » How to Answer Desired Salary Interview Question? (With Examples)

How to Answer Desired Salary Interview Question? (With Examples)

After several applications and a couple of interviews, you’ve finally landed a job provided you can agree on a salary with your soon-to-be employers. This is where even the most qualified candidates begin to fumble. The question “what is your desired salary?” Hits them, and they go blank.

They either do not know what they should be paid or don’t know how to table, so they don’t lose the opportunity. Imagine doing the hard part of passing the interview only to fluff the seemingly easier salary negotiation.

While this feels like the easiest part of the job interview, the number of people that fluff this stage is proof people are still struggling with it. If you’re among the people that do not know how to handle this question, you’ll find the article quite useful as it discusses how to answer the dreaded question the right way. The way that increases your chances of being hired and at your desired salary range.

In this guide, you’ll see how to answer the salary expectation question. Everything you should do and things you shouldn’t do to get your salary and land your dream job.

What You Should Do Before Answering Desired Salary Interview Question?

There are things you can do to answer this question and or make your work easier. These things range from straightforward steps to a more complex and time-consuming process. Without further ado, let’s see what you can do to answer the question “what is your desired salary?”

1. Research the Company

Research the Company

The first thing you should do before any interview, not only when you’re choosing the desired salary, is to research the company you’ll be interviewing with. You should research the role you’re applying for, check what they typically pay for that role.

Sometimes you may find this information on their website, and sometimes it may be nowhere to be found. In this case, you can make do with a similar role from similar companies.

The aim is to know the company’s salary range for that role so you can tailor your expectations to that or know if it’ll work out before even going for the interview. If what they typically pay is way off your expectations, the chances of you getting your desired salary are quite low.

2. Find Your Desired Salary

One of the reasons people freeze when asked their salary expectations is because they do not even know what they should expect. It may sound funny, but it’s true. A lot of people do not know what to expect and so are left confused when this question comes up.

A good way to arm yourself is to prepare ahead of time and know what you would like to get paid for the role you’re applying for. Armed with the salary you got from researching the typical salary for the role in that company, you can start your journey to your desired salary

Using the figure you got as a base point, you can figure out what your expected salary is by factoring in your education, experience, cost of living in your urban area, and other expenses. This should give you a figure of at least a range of what you expect to earn.
If you have 10+ years of experience in the industry and are in a megacity like New York, $20,000 per annum would seem like a rip off depending on the role. It may not be enough to cater for accommodation and the basics in such a city.

3. Ask for the Whole Package

Everything we’ve been doing is trying to prepare you for the big question so you don’t freeze when it comes. This next step not only gives you time to get your act together and remove nervousness but also provides more information that will guide your salary decision.
You want to find out what the role requires, the working hours, and its flexibility. Are you allowed to fix your hours? Can you work from home? You also want to know the number of days you get off in a year, the additional package, if any, like an official car, house, or other allowances involved.

What this does is show help you judge quickly the dollar rate of all these and help you lower or higher your salary expectations. For a job that promises a lot of allowances and bonuses, you may be fine with a lower salary than what you initially planned.

Asking for more details gives you enough information to make a quick decision on the spot on what to quote.

What You Should Not Do for Desired Salary Interview Question?

After knowing the dos, it is right to know the don’ts also to get the full picture. If there are things you should do, there are also things you should not do if you must successfully negotiate your desired salary.

These “don’ts” ensure you don’t fumble the question and botch the interview while also ensuring you get a fair deal. So here are things you shouldn’t do:

1. Do Not Put Your Desired Salary in Your Application

You should not put your desired salary in your application. This reduces the chance of any negotiation if your salary is not in the bracket they are willing to pay. It also means you’ll be deciding without knowing the job’s full package. If the application does not ask for your salary expectation, do not provide one or anything related at all.

Some applications these days have fields for salary expectations, especially most online applications where skipping the question will render your application incomplete and may not allow you to submit it. In this situation, it is still best to avoid stating your salary expectation.

Some things you can do in a situation like this is put “negotiable” or “market rate” in the field. But sometimes, the application may only allow numerical entries for that field. In this case, you can put “$1, or $0. These are unrealistic figures and alerts the reviewer that you may be open to negotiating. This takes you over the first stage and does not cut you off before they see what you can offer.

A company may have a set figure they are willing to pay, but when they see what you can offer in the interview, they may be willing to go higher for you. This wouldn’t be possible if they see your high salary expectation in your application.

A downside to this strategy is that it is reliant on the assumption that a human would review your application. Sometimes, especially for roles that see a lot of applications sent in, a computer is used for the first stage screening. It may have a pre-set salary range to look out for, and your “unrealistic” figure wouldn’t fit in. This may mean your application is thrown out before you even get a chance.

2. Do Not State Your Last Salary

As tempting as it may seem, do not state your last salary in the interview or even in the application. While some states make asking for your last salary illegal, some do not. No matter your state’s stance, avoid stating this at all costs.

If your last salary was too low, the new recruiter would offer you a slightly higher offer and assume you’ll be fine with it.
If your last salary was too high, your recruiter would be wary of giving you the job as they would feel you would reject their low offer or even leave as soon as you find a higher offer.
Either way, this doesn’t end well for you.

How to Answer “What is Your Desired Salary?”

Armed with all the information you need, you can now answer this question without breaking a sweat. But how exactly do you answer the question “what is your desired salary?”

Give a Range

When asked this question, the best thing you can do is give a range instead of a specific salary. This allows room for negotiation around what you expect to earn and does not come across as “unnegotiable.”
This is a subtle yet powerful strategy you should always use to answer the dreaded question.

Examples to Follow

Here are examples of things to say when asked what your desired salary is:

  • One

You can cleverly throw the question back to them so you can see what they are willing to pay first by saying this – “I am more focused on getting a suitable role and I currently do not have a figure in mind. What is your budget range for this job?”

  • Two

You can make them talk about other benefits of the job by saying this – “ I would look to earn around $50,000 and $55,000 for this role considering my experience in the industry. However, if the right benefits were included, I would be willing to be flexible with this range.”

  • Three

You can reference the industry-standard range by saying – “ thank you for this question, while this is decisive, I feel between $90,000 and $95,000 is fair. Provided this is the comparable industry rate for a similar role and experience.”

  • Four

You can keep it simple and straight to the point by saying – “ I look to earn a salary between $40,000 and $45,000, which I feel is fair considering my experience.”


Answering the question “what is your desired salary?” shouldn’t be hard and uncomfortable, and by preparing well beforehand for this question, you eliminate the fear that comes with it and put yourself in the best place to seal the job. You can also use any of the examples to answer this question.