tips on how to answer job interview question: what is your salary expectation?

While it may sound straightforward to answer the salary expectation question, it can be challenging to structure your answer to convince the hiring manager that you are the right candidate and are satisfied with the salary offered.

Related: Hong Kong Salary Guide 2023

Job interviewers ask candidates about their expected salary for several reasons. Here are some common reasons behind this question:

Assessing job alignment: Hiring managers want to gauge whether your salary expectations align with the budgeted salary range for the position. They need to ensure that their compensation aligns with your expectations and financial requirements.

Budget considerations: Hiring managers operate within specific budget constraints. By asking about your salary expectations, they can assess whether they can afford to hire you and whether your expectations fit within the allocated funds for the job.

Evaluating seniority and experience: Salary expectations can provide insights into your perceived level of seniority and experience. If your expected salary is significantly higher than what is typical for someone at your level, it may indicate that you are overqualified for the role. Conversely, if your expectations are too low, it may raise concerns about your experience and qualifications.

Negotiation and offer considerations: Hiring managers use salary expectations as a starting point for negotiation and crafting a competitive offer. By understanding your expectations, they can determine how to structure the compensation package to attract and retain top talent.

Comparing candidates: Hiring managers often interview multiple candidates for a position. Asking about salary expectations helps them compare candidates and make informed decisions based on qualifications, experience, and desired compensation.

It’s essential to approach the question of salary expectations with preparation and understanding. Researching industry standards and knowing your value can help you navigate this conversation effectively.

Related: Compare your current salary with our Salary Comparison Tool

How to answer salary expectations

Crafting an ideal reply to this interview question on expected salary requires a thoughtful and strategic approach. Here are some key elements to consider when formulating your response.

1. Research and Preparation

Before the interview, thoroughly research the average salary range for the role you have applied to and consider your experience level. Find out about the minimum salary for this job post, and also consider your current salary. This will provide you with a solid foundation and enable you to have informed discussions about pay with potential employers.

2. Showcase Your Value

Throughout the interview, you can highlight your skills, qualifications, and achievements that make you an exceptional candidate. Instead of providing a specific salary figure, emphasise the value you bring to the organisation and how it aligns with the position.

By demonstrating your unique contributions, you position yourself as a valuable asset, which can positively impact the salary negotiation process.

No one answer or approach is “better” or “more correct” than the others. Here are a few responses that would allow you to assess which answer is most appropriate, given the tone of the interview.

Related: How to negotiate salary: 8 tips you need to know

3. Provide a Salary Range

Instead of stating a fixed number, consider offering a salary range that reflects your salary research and aligns with industry standards. Ensure that the range is realistic and consider factors such as your level of experience, qualifications, and the job market conditions.

Before coming up with a salary range, it’s important to bear in mind no to offer too broad a range of salaries. Try to keep your range relatively compact, with a variance of around $500-$700 monthly.

Job interviewers may aim for the lower end of the scale. So if you have an “ideal” figure, ensure it’s closer to the bottom of your salary range than the top.

Example response

“Based on my research of the role and my experience in the industry, I understand that the average compensation for similar positions ranges from $5,200 and $5,700 monthly. Considering my qualifications and the value I can bring to the organisation, I believe my skills warrant a competitive salary within this range.

However, I am also open to discussing the complete compensation package, including benefits, bonuses, and opportunities for growth. I value the opportunity to contribute to the company’s success and look forward to a collaborative discussion regarding salary that aligns with my contributions and the organisation’s goals.”

Every interview situation may vary, so it is essential to tailor your response to the specific context and company culture. Additionally, practice delivering your response confidently and professionally to leave a lasting impression on the interviewer.

4. Reverse the question

Tips on how to answer the interview question: What are your salary expectations?

When a hiring manager asks about your expected salary range during job interviews, consider reversing the question and asking the manager about their salary range in mind. However, it’s essential to approach this tactic with caution and consider the context and dynamics of the interview. Here are some factors to think about:


Timing plays a crucial role when using this approach. It is generally recommended to wait until you understand the position, its requirements, and the company’s level of interest in your candidacy.

If the job interview is in the early stages or you haven’t had the opportunity to showcase your value, it may be premature to reverse the question.

Company culture and interview dynamics

Consider the company culture and the dynamics of the interview. Some organisations may be more receptive to open and transparent discussions about salary, while others may prefer to follow a more traditional approach.

Also, assess the overall tone of the interview and the rapport you have established with the hiring manager. You may feel more comfortable reversing the question if the atmosphere is collegial and the conversation allows.

Politeness and tact

When reversing the question, it is crucial to do so politely and tactfully. Frame your response in a way that shows your genuine interest in the role and aligns with the flow of the conversation.

Express curiosity about the company’s salary range without coming across as confrontational or solely focused on compensation. Remember, the goal is to gather information to determine if the position aligns with your expectations.

Example Response

“Thank you for discussing the role and its responsibilities in detail. Based on my understanding of the position and the value I can bring to the organisation, I am curious about the salary range you have in mind for this role.

Understanding the salary range will help me assess how my expectations align with the company’s compensation structure and ensure that it is a mutually beneficial fit. Could you please provide some insights into the salary range for this position?”

By using this approach, you demonstrate your interest in finding a mutually satisfactory arrangement while also gaining valuable information about the salary expectations within the organisation.

However, adapting your response based on the specific circumstances and cues you receive during the interview is crucial. Every interview and situation is unique, so it’s important to trust your judgment and adapt your approach accordingly.

5. Consider the overall compensation

If you do not have a lot of work experience, or are moving into a whole different job function (for example, switching from a marketing role to an engineering role), you need to consider the overall compensation package.

While salary is important, entry-level positions may offer other benefits such as training opportunities, mentorship programs, healthcare benefits, or the potential for rapid advancement. Take these factors into account when discussing your salary expectations.

6. Emphasise flexibility and openness to negotiation

Express your willingness to collaborate when discussing salary. Communicate that you are open to considering the entire compensation package, including health benefits, bonuses, and opportunities for growth. This demonstrates your flexibility and willingness to find a mutually beneficial agreement.

You do not have to finalise your salary expectation during the hiring process. Instead, you can answer the question in a way that opens the possibility of further negotiations within the company.

Example response

“While I have a range in mind based on my research and industry standards, I am also very open to discussing and negotiating the compensation package. My main priority is to find the right fit for both the role and the organisation, and I believe that salary is just one aspect of that equation.

I am more interested in exploring the opportunity to contribute my skills and experience to the team and grow within the company. I am confident that we can find a mutually beneficial compensation plan that aligns with my value and the company’s resources and goals.”

Related: 6 common job interview questions for contracting jobs

What’s next?

If you have a job interview on the horizon, be sure not to leave your preparation to chance. Explore the vast catalogue of job interview tips in our career advice content hub, where you’ll find guidance on everything from resume writing to explaining where you see yourself in five years.

Ready for a new role? Check out our job portalsubmit your CV, or get in touch with a specialist Page Personnel recruitment consultant today.