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

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

February 8, 2022

Are you one of those people who breeze into an interview, confident, well presented and self-assured or do you lose sleep, worrying about the kind of questions you may be asked? Well, there’s good news, even if you fall into the latter category. By preparing well ahead and being ready to ask – or answer – any query, your confidence levels will rise and you might even find yourself enjoying the experience.

You deserve it

However, how about the age-old question, “What are your salary expectations?” Do you feel relaxed and at ease when discussing it or does it make you uncomfortable? Remember one thing: you deserve to be rewarded fairly for your skills, knowledge and time. The best employers will be on the same page and may even drop the salary figure into the conversation early on.  Nevertheless, this doesn’t always happen and it’s a little one-sided.  After all, you are providing the employer with something valuable so why shouldn’t they be transparent and discuss the sort of figure they have in mind?

A win-win scenario

If they decide to put you on the spot and ask what type of salary you are looking for, don’t feel embarrassed about replying. See this as a win-win scenario where you are being compensated for the value you will bring to the organisation. If your new employer believes that their workforce is a precious asset without which they could not function, then providing and discussing the proposed salary should be an essential part of the conversation. However, as long as this reluctance to talk about salaries remains, it is left to the interviewee to take this in their stride.  The person interviewing you will already have a figure in their head and if you have done your homework correctly, so should you. You can then wait for the topic to be explored or even raise the question yourself.  Once you feel confident, talking about salary should be as natural as discussing the hours of work or holiday entitlement!

Salary guide

So now you have a plan in place, and that is to enter the interview with your salary expectations clearly outlined in your head. Nowadays it is not so hard to research potential salaries for specific positions. You can use Google and compare several figures or if you would like to be more accurate, make use of the CMD salary guide. Here you will find our 2022 salary report, focused on the South West and covering more than one hundred benchmarked salaries. By using this, you should gain a good idea of where your potential new position stands in the market.

Try not to be shy about discussing salary; after all, it’s one of the things you are there for. You need to draw a fine line between being awkward about talking money and being too upfront. Only if you have a swathe of interviews lined up may you want to bring it into the conversation early on; sometimes this can save time for both interviewer and interviewee, identifying whether the pricing of the role suits both parties. Generally, most candidates wait until the point of being presented with an offer as, by this point, they know the employer wants them. The offer should always include specifics of the salary but if the employer avoids this, professionally refer to it.

Getting into detail

So you’ve reached the point in the interview where you have been asked, “What are your salary expectations?” or you have introduced the topic into the conversation. Timing is important here as it is better if you can get the interviewer to state a figure first.  If this doesn’t happen and you need to come up with a figure, err on the higher side. Just as when you are selling any item of value, if you go too low, it’s impossible to get back up. Don’t be too blasé though as if your salary expectations are far too high, the interviewer may move on to a candidate who is happy with a lesser sum. We must mention though that most good employers should not do that.  If they want you for the role, they should be happy to negotiate until you are both happy with the chosen salary.

Another good tactic when faced with the question, “What are your salary expectations?” is to try using a quizzical approach. You may wish to refer to the salary being important for both parties and since the interviewer is the expert when it comes to defining the role, can they please tell you what sum they have in mind. This places the question firmly back in the hands of the employer without being unprofessional. If this doesn’t work and they push you to give them a number, do this based upon the research you have carried out. State a range rather than a single number. Place your absolute minimum at the bottom with the higher number leaving you with room to negotiate. When deciding on what salary to ask for, you should take into account how much you value the job, how essential the pay is and any other benefits included.

Keep the range wide

By keeping the salary range wide, you are not committing too much. For example, if you would like to earn £50,000 p.a. you may state a range of between £45,000 and £65,000. If the job is a must-have, you may fine-tune these figures to £45,000 and £55,000.

If you have the opportunity, end the discussion by stating that these are the best numbers you can come up with based upon what you know about the role so far and that you are happy to discuss further as you advance through the interview process. This ends on a positive note and shows your intention to go forward with securing the role.


Once you know what your final salary will be, use the CMD calculator to work out your take-home pay, which is your salary minus national insurance and tax. Securing the ideal salary is hard work and can involve time-consuming research but, by making use of our CMD salary guide, you will be well prepared to enter the interview. CMD Recruitment is expert in the field of recruitment. Talk to us if you would like further details concerning prospective salaries.

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