Career Advice

How to Talk About Salary in a Job Interview

Your job search is successful. You impress recruiters with all the qualifications for the position, and you land an interview. The discussion’s going great, then you’re hit with the question, “what are your salary expectations?”

Talking about salary can be pretty uncomfortable. Many job candidates hesitate to give a specific dollar amount, fearing employers won’t hire them if the number’s too high. On the other end, many fear that if they give a number too low, they’re possibly leaving money on the table.

It can be a difficult number to calculate if you aren’t prepared to have the discussion. Fortunately, there are low-stress methods to help you handle the conversation. With preparation and research, you can feel comfortable discussing salary expectations in your interview.


Do Your Homework

When discussing salary in a job interview, preparation is key. You want to give your potential employer a salary range that matches market trends– this way, you’re making an informed decision that can be backed up with real numbers. No matter what career field you’re going into, a simple Google search can pull up market research about the average pay for your position.

Narrowing down that research with salary reports for your specific location is also important. For example, if you’re interviewing for an IT Analyst position in Kansas City, Missouri, you might look at salary trends for other Midwest cities like Chicago, Illinois, or Columbus, Ohio. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is a federal resource with accurate salary data for career industries.


How to Have the Conversation

In a job interview, a salary discussion is simply that– a discussion. As a job candidate, this isn’t your time to negotiate. It’s your time to communicate general expectations to your potential employer. Salary negotiation comes later on once you’ve received your official offer. Talking about salary in a job interview merely lays the foundation for the salary talk.

Give the hiring manager a salary range that mirrors the market research you did beforehand. You may adjust the numbers to ensure you’re ultimately comfortable with the range you give. That way, regardless of where your final offer falls on the spectrum, it’s a number that’s acceptable to you.

Alternatively, you can politely turn the question back to the hiring manager by asking, “What’s the salary range for this position?” Then, you can compare their answer with your own research. You can even ask for more information about the day-to-day demands and responsibilities of the position to make a more informed decision. You can say something like, “Before we discuss salary expectations, I’d like to learn more about the specific tasks of the position.”


However you choose to navigate the conversation it’s important to be polite, poised, and honest with your questions and answers. You’ll make a better lasting impression on the employer and have the time and space to avoid making rushed decisions. Talking about salary expectations doesn’t have to feel awkward. By researching the salary trends for your industry beforehand, you can feel better prepared for how to have the conversation.