How to Actually Answer: “What Are Your Salary Expectations?”

How to Actually Answer: “What Are Your Salary Expectations?”

The next question in our “How to Actually Answer” series of blogs is a real make or break for a lot of businesses.

But why?

Well, the truth of the matter is, you could be the very best fit for a job, but if a company simply doesn’t have the budget to match your salary expectations, they’ll turn you down.

Yet, despite this point, Glassdoor’s recent study reveals that earning a top salary is of paramount importance to candidates.

So how do you find a salary range which doesn’t put off an employer and leave you shortchanged in the process too?

In a way, this arguably makes this question one of the more testing ones when it comes to sitting down and interviewing for a role.

The key to answering this question with flying colours is to prepare yourself before you go in.

Here are some top tips to ensure you keep your application in the running and don’t price yourself out of a job.

Finding the right approach

When you see salary depends on experience or DOE, what are your initial thoughts?

An opportunity to push the boundaries? Or a tricky question you somehow have to guess right?

Ultimately, this is a vague term used when a business isn’t completely sure about how much they should pay a new employee for the advertised role.

However, it is worth noting that the employer usually has a limit – but this is reserved for a professional who can tick every single box.

In most cases, this isn’t always a possibility, especially if you’re a relatively inexperienced candidate.

Although this shouldn’t put you off from applying.

Instead of focusing on the negatives, approach this with the mentality that you have the chance to steak your worth to an employer.

In other words, the better you sell yourself, the more likely you are to walk away with a bigger salary.

What shouldn’t you say?

The obvious thing to avoid saying is a ridiculous figure you know won’t sit very well.

But more importantly, you shouldn’t try to add a silly amount to your previous salary, otherwise, this could come back to shoot you in the foot.

A recruiter or HR professional may well ask your previous employer as a part of the reference process.

So always look to either stick around a similar salary figure or just add a bit extra on if you believe you have attained more experience to justify the increase.

How to answer “what are your salary expectations?”

The key to finding the perfect happy medium between keeping both you and the employer on-board is to do some research.

Use sites like Payscale and Glassdoor to see what other professionals in your field are earning in your area.

Just remember that these figures will be different if you are relocating to certain parts of the country.

For instance, you’ll probably see that you’re offered more in very rural areas of the country as the talent is harder to come by.

While in cities like Birmingham and Bristol, some employers might take the opportunity to drive salaries down due to the catchment area for talent being more accessible.

London is a completely different story altogether.

Salary expectations should always be higher if you’re moving to the capital of England as the cost of living is extremely high.

Also take into account any certificates or extra qualifications you’ve attained, as this could add extra value to your application.

In regards to actually answering the question, always be positive and assertive.

If you hesitate, the employer may think that you’re just throwing out an unjustified figure.

Try starting your answer off with a statement which further strengthens your thoughts behind your desired figure.

For example:

“With over 5 years of experience in the industry, specifically covering the [specific sector], I’d be looking for a salary between £xx and £xx.” 


While this interview question may seem relatively simple, it has the potential to derail all of your previous hard work.

That’s why it’s vital to do your homework and establish your worth in the current marketplace.

While you may believe that you should be earning more, just remember that there’s nothing wrong in asking whether the company reviews an employee’s pay every year.

If this is a factor, you can then aim to work hard and give yourself more of a foot to stand on when it comes to asking for a pay rise further down the line.

But similarly, don’t completely undervalue yourself altogether, as this could give off the wrong impression and leave you feeling negative towards a role before you’ve even started.

Fancy learning how to answer some more commonly asked interview questions?

Then check out our previous posts:

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