How To Answer Desired Salary Questions On Applications And Interviews

How To Answer Desired Salary Questions- In job interviews or job applications, you might notice this inevitable question by hiring managers about your desired salary expectation for a position.

This question is about how much you would like to be paid for a specific job. 

This question is mostly asked in order to screen potential job candidates during both the application and interview process, but your answer can limit your earning potential or even cost you the job if you don’t know how best to answer.

This article will explain:

  • Why do hiring managers ask about desired salary
  • Factors that determine your desired salary.
  • How to answer this question in the job application and Interview process. 
  • Common desired salary mistakes to avoid

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Why Do Hiring Managers Ask About Desired Salary 

Hiring managers inquire about your desired salary in order to find the best candidate at the lowest price possible.

So if you give a salary range that is too high, you will be eliminated from the candidate pool and also, if you give a salary range that is too low, the company will also have leverage over you in salary negotiations.

So it is advisable to bear in mind that this question is designed to benefit the company, not you. 

Having said that, let’s look at the factors that determine your desired salary.

Factors That Determine Your Desired Salary

Since you have fully understood the reasons behind this question and what it will cost you if you don’t answer it in the right way.

Let’s look at the factors that you should consider when determining your desired salary expectation.


While preparing for a job application or a job interview, it is advisable that you carry out research on the position and the company for which you are applying or interviewing. 

When researching the company, you will come across the average salary given to employees, which most times can be found on the list of the job descriptions.

Additionally, it is worthwhile to search the internet for general average salaries in your field. 

This can provide you with a wider range of reasonable salary estimates. 

With all of your research combined, you’ll have a better idea of what you should offer as your desired salary when asked.


The greater your experience in your field, the better. 

When you look up the average salary on the internet, you’ll notice a difference between experienced and inexperienced workers. 

For instance, If you’ve been teaching for ten years in a Secondary School as a teacher, you can’t sell yourself with all your years of experience with a mere beginner’s salary.

On the contrary, whether you’re brand new to the field, that same entry-level salary may be appropriate.


People do not waste a few years of their lives in college just to settle for a lower salary expectation. 

So, therefore, it is important that you consider your educational qualifications when considering your desired salary since the greater your education, the more valuable you are to an employer.

But nevertheless, keep in mind that certain fields require specific majors, so if you don’t have that major, it may not be reasonable to ask for a higher desired salary. 

That’s why you need to research and look for the education requirements in a job description.  

Cost Of Living

Finally, you should be aware of your economic state and your expenditure.

It can be beneficial to add everything up and determine your monthly average cost of living. 

This will help you determine how much money you’ll need to survive and thrive.

Besides that, the average salary for a job tends to vary depending on location. 

So If you’re considering moving for a new job, it’s important to know how much it will cost to maintain your current standard of living in order to know what kind of salary negotiation will be comfortable for you.

Read Also: Leadership Interview Questions And Answers

How To Answer Desired Salary Questions On Application

Majority of job applications will require you to state your desired salary filled in your details either online or offline, as earlier stated above that answering this question is not always to your greatest advantage. 

The best strategic approach in dealing with this is by postponing the discussion.

Your choices for avoiding it may differ depending on the application’s specific requirements. 

Below are the major three answer options for tackling this question during your application.

Option 1: Leave The Space Blank

The first option for postponing the salary negotiation is to leave the space provided for the desired salary range blank. 

This is because any number you specify may limit your salary options or eliminate you from consideration if your answer is too high. 

Below is a clear scenario that best explains what could play out when you fill in the blank.

  • If the salary you’ve specified is too high

The hiring team may decide not to pursue your application. 

After discussing the value you can bring to the team with your skills and experience in an interview, you will have the more negotiating power to negotiate a higher salary. 

So don’t jeopardize your chances of getting an interview by listing a salary that may be above the company’s budget.

  • If your desired salary is too low…

Negotiating your compensation package later in the hiring process may be more difficult if your desired salary is below the company’s payment. 

For example, if you originally requested $50,000 in your application but discovered during the interview process that $60,000 is a reasonable salary for the position, it would be difficult to justify a counteroffer. 

The hiring team may state that based on your application, they were prepared to meet your salary expectations and cannot accommodate anything adjustment.

Option 2: Fill In “Negotiable”

Another option for avoiding the salary discussion early in the hiring process is to inform them that you’d like to negotiate the salary based on a thorough understanding of the position. 

In an application, simply fill in “negotiable” in the space provided for the desired salary range.

Only some applications will accept a non-numerical answer to this question. 

If that is the case, and you are unable to submit “negotiable” as your response, try using a number as a placeholder, such as “000” or “999.” 

This should satisfy the number requirement without limiting your future earnings.

When using a numeric placeholder, it’s a smart idea to clearly define somewhere in the application, for instance in the comments or notes section, that salary is open for negotiation and can be discussed in more detail later.

Option 3: Identify A Suitable Range

In most cases, Some applications might necessitate a range answer or might not accept “000” or “999.” 

In this case, your only alternative is to specify the desired range. 

It’s extremely crucial to carry out salary research for the position and location that you are aspiring for and to develop a salary range based on the current market value. 

Proceed by researching the median annual salary for the position and try to compare it to competitive salaries in your area to determine a reasonable amount.

How To Answer The Desired Salary Question In Interviews

Keep in mind that you have the best chance of successfully negotiating your salary if you wait until after you’ve proven your value and have been offered the job. 

Use all these tips to delay the discussion during interviews so that you can secure a salary that is directly proportionate to your expertise.

1. Wait Until You’ve Gathered Enough Info. 

If you feel as though you don’t have enough information when the hiring manager asks you “What is your desired salary range?”. Then, it is advisable not to cook up stories.

Instead, you should wait before answering in order for you to gain more insight. 

You can say, “I’d like to learn more about what this position entails before I discuss my desired salary.”

2. Always Support Your Answer With Research. 

Doing all that research wasn’t for nothing.It’s time to put all that information into practice. 

So if your research brought you to the conclusion that you deserve a salary of $60,000 per year, you should have a solid argument why you’re worth that amount. 

Know the details of the position you’re applying for, and use your research to sell yourself.

3. Consider The Company’s Benefits Package. 

Remember to inquire about the company’s benefits such as your health insurance, stock options, pension, etc. 

Add real monetary value to the position. Therefore, they may affect what desired salary the hiring manager is willingly to accept.

4. Indicate If And When Negotiation Is Acceptable. 

During the interview, make sure to let the hiring manager know if you’re willing to negotiate your salary.

Generally speaking, it’s best to be open to negotiations. 

Nevertheless, if you’ve already stated your lowest acceptable salary, you should confidently stand by it.

5. Decline Unacceptable Offers. 

Before proceeding with the interview, it is advisable for you to know the lowest salary that you are comfortable with in order to still maintain your standard of living and be prepared to respectfully decline an offer if the hiring manager can’t meet up with your expectations.

As you use the tips listed above, don’t forget to always uphold your standard.

Keep in mind that It’s better to keep looking for the right fit than to take a job that doesn’t pay enough.

Common Desired Salary Mistakes To Avoid

Below are the common mistakes to avoid while negotiating for a higher possible salary:

1. Speaking Too Soon. 

The sooner you put your desired salary on record, the earlier the hiring manager has leverage over you during the hiring process. 

It’s always best to let the hiring manager speak first in a salary discussion, whether that’s verbally indicated or put in writing in the form of a job offer.

2. Thinking It’s Time To Negotiate. 

This question isn’t the start of salary negotiations, rather, it’s just another piece of information that the hiring manager stores a way to use when evaluating the best value per candidate, which can only hurt you.

3. Providing Your Last Or Current Salary. 

If as a candidate, you are thinking about comparing your last job salary to your current job salary, then you have been cheated.

Your current or most recent pay is certainly important to consider when budgeting and planning for your personal finances, but it’s neither here nor there when it comes to salary negotiations.

4. Failing To Consider Things Long-term. 

If there’s a regimented system in place for pay raises, promotions, commissions, or bonuses, then you might miss the bigger picture by simply focusing on the base salary you’re being offered. 

This will take some math and a degree of trust in your potential future manager, but these factors should be a part of your considerations.


Even though this question is one of the most frequently asked Interview questions both on an online application or offline, you still need not to answer it as long as you have been given an employment letter.

Don’t forget that this stage is a critical moment in your career and everything counts.

If you follow all information provided above, I bet you… you will land yourself in a position beyond your desired salary expectation.

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