How To Answer the Salary Expectation Question in Job Interviews

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 6 June 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Prospective employers may ask you about your salary expectations at any stage during the hiring process. Your selection for a job depends on how well your expectations match what the company is willing to offer. Researching the average salary for your position and experience can help you come up with a realistic figure and have an informed discussion with the recruiter. In this article, we discuss why the salary expectation question is important, how to share your salary expectations and tips for framing your response along with examples.

Why is the salary expectation question important?

The salary expectation question is important because it tells the employer what you think your worth is. As a good candidate, you should know the average salary for your role and experience level in the market and you should be able to communicate it confidently. Your salary expectations give an indication of your seniority level to the employer. Asking for a significantly higher salary than industry standards may indicate that you are overqualified for the given position. Similarly, asking for too low a salary may hint at a lack of skills and experience required for the position.

Employers usually have their own budget in mind when they ask you about your salary expectations. They often want to make sure that your salary expectations match the range they are willing to offer for the given position. Thus, the salary expectation that you share has a significant bearing on your chances of getting recruited.

How to answer the salary expectation question

Here is the process you can follow for answering the salary expectation question:

1. Research the average salary

Try to find out the average salary prevalent in the industry for your job role, location and experience level. Contact your friends and near ones working in a similar position. You can also perform an online research to get an idea of what other companies are normally paying.

Consider browsing through the Indeed Salaries page for a huge database of the average salary for different positions. Click on your desired job role to get an idea about average salaries in top companies and in different cities in India. This would be specifically helpful since the Indeed data is based on job advertisements and salary submissions from real employees. Similarly, Indeed Salary Calculator can help you get a direct estimate based on your company, job title and location.

2. Consider your existing pay

Your salary expectations should have some correlation with your existing pay package. Companies often tend to offer a certain percentage of increment on your existing salary. For example, if your current salary is Rs.30,000 per month, a 20% increment would mean a salary of Rs. 36,000 per month.

Read more: How to Share Your Salary History

3. Consider perks and benefits

Consider the employment benefits you are entitled to in your present company. These could be in the form of pension, provident fund, leave entitlement, conveyance allowance or employee stock option. A convenient way to factor in all these components is to compute your annual cost to company (CTC). Companies often negotiate salary in terms of CTC.

Read more: Gross Salary and Net Salary: Definitions and Examples

4. Make adjustments for cost of living

Consider the geographical location of the company that is offering you the job because salaries for the same position vary with location. Jobs in bigger cities typically come with a higher pay package due to the higher cost of living. Thus, if you are moving from a small town to a big city like Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi or Bengaluru, you should adjust your expected salary accordingly.

5. Ask for additional details (optional)

Be open to asking for any additional information you need to determine your salary. This holds especially true when you face the question too early during the interview. You may want to understand your job responsibilities better before sharing your salary expectations. For example, you may need more clarity whether it involves travel or whether you need to work in night shifts. Similarly, you may want better clarity on the other benefits you can expect, such as food coupons and free pickup and drop facility.

In such cases, you can frame your query like this:

“Before I respond to that, I would like to get a better understanding of what the job position entails, such as the extent of travel involved and the frequency of night shifts. It will help me keep my salary expectations more realistic.”

6. Ask for more time (optional)

If you need more time to be ready with a well-researched salary expectation, it is better to be honest about it and ask for some more time.

Example: “Please give me some time to think about it. I want to keep it realistic. I will communicate my expectations over the phone in a day or two.”

7. Provide a range

Share your expected salary in a range instead of a single number, so that it sounds f lexible. Providing a range also gives you a scope for negotiation. However, keep the range narrow, so that it sounds realistic. Also, keep the lower end close to your target salary, so that you convey a proper figure close to your expectation.

8. Justify your salary expectation

Briefly explain the logic behind your salary expectations. Consider justifying it with your skills and experience, especially if you have quoted a figure above the industry average. An honest expectation supported by market data shows that you know your worth well.

Example: “My present salary for the position of Digital Marketer is Rs.3,00,000 per annum. Since I would be moving here as a Senior Digital Marketer with five years of experience, I think I can reasonably expect between Rs.4,00,000 to Rs.4,50,000.”

Tips for answering the salary expectation question

Here are some tips to help you answer the salary expectation question in a fruitful manner:

Set a higher expectation

Employers are likely to give you a counteroffer based on the salary you ask for. Hence, it is better to provide some cushion for bargaining. Consider quoting a little higher than what you finally intend to settle for. For example, if you are looking at a target pay of Rs.30,000 per month, you can quote a range of Rs.35,000 to Rs.40,000. This will ensure that you have enough room for negotiation.

Answer confidently

The way you share your salary expectations is as important as the amount you ask for. Putting across your expectations in a confident and convincing manner will show that you are self-assured about your worth and will only settle for what you deserve.

Be willing to negotiate

Employers often look to negotiate a mutually-agreeable pay before confirming your selection. Hence, it is advisable to be open to negotiation. However, you should be firm and consider all aspects of your employment while negotiating your salary.

Here is how you can subtly indicate your willingness to negotiate:

“I am looking for a take-home pay of Rs.75,000 to Rs.1,00,000 per month. However, I am open to negotiation based on other employment benefits like performance bonus, paid leaves and employee stock options.”

Read more: Salary Negotiation Tips and Examples

Sample answers to the salary expectation question

Here are some sample answers for sharing your salary expectations:

Example 1

“Thank you for allowing me to share my salary expectations. I think that an annual CTC of Rs.8,00,000 to Rs.10,00,000 is appropriate as per the prevailing industry average for my experience level. However, I am open to negotiation and would like to hear about the company's budget and expectations.”

Example 2

“I don't have any fixed amount in mind yet. It would be helpful if you could give me an idea as to how much you were paying to the previous employee. I am aware that this position will offer me a lot of growth and learning opportunities. I am excited about working for this organisation. I feel that quoting a specific amount right now would not be wise on my part. I would rather like to consider the company's offer so that we can hopefully agree on a reasonable pay package.”

Example 3

“Let me be honest with you. This would be my first job. As such, I really have no idea as to what compensation package I should be asking for. More than the pay, I am looking forward to starting my career in this great organisation. It is no secret that you value your employees and pay them well. I would be happy to consider the amount you pay others for this position. After all, what matters more to me is getting to build a career in my line of interest.”

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