A salary related question comes up sooner or later in every job interview. You are certainly doing well when the question, “What are your salary expectations?” is asked. Be careful while answering this one. As much as the interviewer seems cheerful, s/he is also interested to know if their company can actually ‘afford’ you. You are standing just a step short of getting hired. So play this question smartly.

Get prepared for some of the most frequently asked HR interview questions and answers.

A straightforward answer is never a good option. When someone asks, “What are your salary expectations?”, don’t say frankly, “XXX Lakhs per annum would do just fine”. You seem rude if you answer in this manner. You risk your complete effort in the interview if you talk like that. Be honest but don’t take a point-blank shot at it. The ready-to-use explanations below will help you shape your answer better.

Possible Answer #1

Try to understand the job role first.

“Before answering this question, I would like to understand this job position and the expected responsibilities better. I would also like to know what is expected from me while I work here. As I have been working in a similar position for the past few months, I can gauge what my worth is. It is obvious that a person working in this position has a bigger role to play. I certainly believe that I would be offered important tasks. Then we can settle down on a certain figure later, I hope.”

Possible Answer #2

Try to ask for team interaction first.

“This question is tough. What I believe is that the job position will be a huge career upgrade for me. I have worked hard for many years to reach where I am right now. I am certainly looking forward to working with your esteemed organization. This can be a new milestone for me. As you know, the responsibilities I would be given here are much bigger and tougher. I would face entirely new challenges. At this point, I cannot come up with a fixed amount. I hope that after interacting with the members of my future team later today, I will be able to answer your question better.”

Possible Answer #3

Asking for another round of interview.

“I think this is not the right time for me to answer the question, ‘What are your salary expectations?”. To be honest, I have not yet observed the work environment and the challenges I would be facing. Before we can discuss salary, I need to dig deep into the sort of responsibilities I might face. I can do that only when I speak to the Manager of the prospective team. Hence, I would like to have a Managerial round of interview first. Once that is done, I will have some more information about the type of tasks I would be assigned. Nevertheless, you can also help me know what budget has been decided for this position. The figure can help me get a better idea about what I should be expecting. So, we can postpone this discussion until I have the requisite information on my plate.”

Possible Answer #4

Asking about company’s budget for position.

“To answer this question, I would like to know what you were previously paying to the employee who was in this job role. Were his/her qualifications and experience similar to me? This data can help me determine a particular number. I know this position will offer a lot of opportunities and I am aware of the fact that this organization will offer me with ample growth too. So, I do not believe that estimating a particular amount right now, would be wise on my part. I just want to work my way ahead and maybe in a day or two, we can agree on a mutual figure.”

Possible Answer #5

Avoiding the question subtly.

“This is a difficult one! Let me put this way. I am here for the interview today because this job looks promising and exciting to me. I see myself progressing in the corporate world while working for your esteemed organization. The work atmosphere here is different from what I have experienced in the past. Money is surely an important aspect but the primary thing for me is to settle down here as soon as I can. The quicker I adapt to this environment, the better it would be for me. Until then it would be disrespectful to the job position if I randomly guess an amount.”

Possible Answer #6

Buying more time with a clever answer.

“With all due respect, this question is not something which I can answer right now. For my response, you might have to give me the job so that I can see the payslip and answer you! (haha!) No seriously, in order to answer your question, I need to be fully aware of my job requirements first, but I am not aware as of now. I need to know what you expect from me as an employee. What will my work week be like? Is it a 24×7 project? Are there any international travel opportunities at all? Will the company sponsor my visa? If no, will they assure me a transfer abroad later? After I have all these pieces of information in place, I can comment on the ‘Salary’ part. At the moment, let us leave this question unanswered. By next week or so, when I have enough knowledge about this job role’s requirements, we can come up with an answer.”

Possible Answer #7

A diplomatic final answer.

“All I am looking for is a job position which can help me grow my skills. I have longed for a job position like this one, where I can learn more and more everyday. After all, I have worked hard to obtain my current position. This company suits my needs. Here I can utilize my abilities to the fullest. So the package I am will be getting here does not matter much. I would accept anything that is at par with market standards as well as remains suitable for my job level. You can jot this down as my final expectation.”

Possible Answer #8

For a fresher or intern.

“As I am just starting my career, it would be difficult for me to figure out a particular package or take home salary now. I haven’t got any experience about how to answer this question. What I am looking forward to is building a career in the field I love. These are my initial years in the corporate world. I want to extend the reach of my knowledge and also my polish skills. Yours is a great brand and I am certain that you pay your freshers well. You can offer me a package that would suit a beginner like me. You must have got a few on board already. What do you pay them? May I know the sum? In the end, what matters to me is what I get to learn.”

Possible Answer #9

For an experienced candidate.

“To be honest, I came here with only one expectation. The job! This position is a reward for the efforts I have put into my entire career till date. I have paved way step by step up to this point. As I look forward, I can see myself working for this organization. It would be a nice to face new challenges daily. As far as the salary is concerned, I know we would agree on a figure mutually later. Depending upon the role I have to play here, the package can be decided, right? We could negotiate to a certain sum according to the budget decided for this position. For what matters now is the mutual growth of this company and my career.”

Possible Answer #10

For less experienced candidates.

“Being relatively less experienced, I see myself in no position to demand any certain package. To tell you the truth, I am here for the job as it interests me the most. What money I make from it comes far after. During my internship, I always hoped that a respected organization has something for me to offer. I feel that the opportunity is in front of me now. It is the time to pounce on it. As for the salary, whatever package range that has been allotted to this job would do for me. I would leave my answer up to you. Maybe you can respond to this better than me!”

While answering, “what are your salary expectations?”, you have to be very subtle and patient. You can be frank and respond as you wish, but hold your nerves for this one. Calm your mind initially. Come up with an answer which can give them a good idea, without revealing too much.

Remember that your interviewer has vast experience about how to handle his/her response to your retort. Even though you sound diplomatic while coming up with a good answer, s/he will guess what is exactly on your mind. The above-mentioned answers can help you craft a decent response. As long as you sound natural and tackle the question, ‘what are your salary expectations?’ well, your resume will not be seen negatively.

All the best!

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