No matter how well the job interview goes, there’s always going to be one question that stops you short. “What are you looking for in terms of salary?” might be the awkward question that makes most people cringe. It is such a straightforward question, and yet the answer could be so complex.

Your answer to the salary expectations question might be a deciding factor for the position. If you answered it the wrong way, it can cost you a job offer or get you stuck in an unsatisfied position with a salary much lower than expected.


If You Decide Not To Answer Directly

Remember, you always have the option to answer it directly or to give a vague answer around the topic. If you are a new graduate with absolutely no work experience, or you’ve just stepped into a brand new industry, you may feel it’s in your best interests to avoid the question. No matter what your reasons are, do not simply refuse to answer.

You should respectfully and professionally explain that your interest in the job opportunity, and that the learning experience is your sole priority. If you need more time to prepare for this question, you could also express your willingness to discuss salary once the company decide you’re the ultimate candidate for the position.


Show What You Are Worth Before You Answer

If you are prepared and willing to discuss salary during the job interview, try to push the salary talk towards the end of the interview. The later in the process you talk about money, the more time you have to demonstrate your professional value to the interviewer before salary negotiation begins. Show the interviewer your skills and worth by explaining your accomplishments before discussing salary, this way you have more wagers on your side of the bargain.

By swaying the conversation away from salary and toward your skills, you get one more chance to show you’re a good fit for the company. By the time the salary conversation starts again, the interviewer may be willing to offer more than they would have earlier.


Show That You’ve Done Your Research

If the interviewers clearly want you to give a price, be professional and give a market price range that’s suitable for the position and your experience level. If you’ve done your research, you should have a fairly good idea of the typical salary range for someone with your level of experience in the kind of position you’re seeking within your market.

There are many websites that offer salary averages and estimates.  Sites like and all offer comparable data, but if you have time to look at more than one source you may get a better perspective of range. When giving a price range, make sure that the name at the lower end is something that you’d be comfortable with, since that’s probably where the hiring manager will start your offer.

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