How to Answer – “What Is Your Expected Salary?”

How to Answer What Is Your Expected Salary

If you are sitting in a job interview, the HR manager of the company concerned is most likely to ask what is your desired salary. 

A simple question, right?

Except it’s not.

Your expected salary is a number that’s calculated on a variety of factors that range from your skills to the need for these skills.

The HR personnel can map several skills of the candidate through this simple question. Once the HR department shortlists you for the job, it would like to gauge several other skills that you should have. 

So, how do you other this question?


An overview

Before we figure out an answer to how much salary you could expect from your next job, the first step is to understand why this question is asked to you in the first place.

Here are some key reasons why HRs ask what is your desired salary:

  • Your self-evaluation: HR would know whether you are over-evaluating yourself, underestimating yourself, or are reasonable. To map how you evaluate yourself, HR can ask you such a question at the time of the interview. 
  • Your Negotiation Skill: When the HR Manager poses this question, you either say you are open to any salary that the management may offer you or you tend to negotiate. If you are throwing the ball in their court, this means you are not confident enough to try for another job. On the other hand, if you negotiate the salary on reasonable grounds, it shows your confidence and negotiation skill. 
  • Your Promptness in Answering It: If you take too much time while answering it, it shows your poor decision-making skills and indecisiveness. The HR manager wants the candidate to reply immediately without lingering. 
  • Your Personality Mapping: If you are looking blank at the interviewer or faltering to reply, it shows that your personality doesn’t suit the job profile. Especially when you are applying for jobs relating to sales, customer relations, and PR—you need excellent interpersonal skills and an extroverted personality.    
  • Mapping Your Professional Attitude: This question becomes even more pertinent if you are a mid-level or senior professional. 


A fresher can’t negotiate – A recruiting company has already fixed a particular salary for a fresher. Hence, there is no question of negotiation for them. But when you are a mid-level professional, the company may prefer negotiating the scale because they may not go above a particular salary limit. 

Many candidates get stuck while answering this particular question. Here’re some effective ways to answer this question with a rational approach.


How to answer – What Is Your Desired Salary?  

The HR manager knows that a mid-level or senior person has to be given some hike over and above the candidate’s existing salary. This hike or salary jump can be 15%, 20%, or even more, depending upon the necessity to fill a particular slot. 

Seniors can certainly negotiate their expected salary figures with the HR managers. But this does not mean senior professionals should demand an unrealistic salary hike. 

Example 01

Question: What Is Your Desired Salary?

Answer: I want to be compatible with the company first and prove myself an asset to it. Obviously, a salary hike is not my immediate priority. You can pay whatever you want to.

As a senior-level professional, you’ve to handle the question diplomatically. The HR manager knows that you have applied for a job change basically to enhance your salary. So, you should look more from the company’s angle than from your own. Of course, you’ll be recruited with a hike in salary.

Example 02 

Question: How much is your expectation?

Answer: It’s completely your prerogative. What should I say about it? However, since I am joining this esteemed company, I feel my salary should be above my current earnings.

As soon as the HR manager asks you this question, don’t take time to reply. Just add on a minimum percentage of salary hike over and above what is existing salary and quote it. 

Example 03

Question: What is your expectation from us?

Answer: I am joining this company with great hope. I definitely want a good hike over what I am earning right now with a well-defined path for career growth and success. 

It’s a straightforward approach and often it clicks in the case of mid-level and senior-level professionals. For experienced hands, a straightforward reply regarding the amount of salary often helps. 



Among the various reasons why this question is posed during the final selection process is that every company has a pre-fixed salary budget. The HR manager cannot go beyond that. Hence, this question forms the core of the final selection process. 

Given a circumstance when two candidates for the same post have equal experience-level and qualifications, the final selection will be based on which candidate asks for a comparatively less salary than the other. 

Senior professionals should dribble a little over the issue of salary because they are already employed and there’s no need to show any urgency to take up a new job. 

But a fresher has to start from somewhere. So, they shouldn’t negotiate with the employer. Thus, answering what is your expected salary depends upon your position—whether you are experienced or fresher. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question!


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