How to Answer the Dreaded Salary Question

Your interview is going great.  You have answered all of the hiring manager’s questions.  You have sold yourself effectively.  You didn’t ramble and you even kept your hands in your lap and not all over the place.  Then you hear the dreaded question…..”What are you salary requirements?” Everything stands still and time starts moving in slow motion.  A million thoughts are going through your head.

“What if I say a number too high?”    

“What if I say a number too low?”     

“Can I really ask for what I want?”     

“Why did they have to ask me this question?”

The employer is waiting so you know you have to say something, but what do you say?

We’ve all been there and we’ve all heard that whoever says a number first loses.  Not exactly.  You can adequately answer this question and still get the amount you want if you do your research and position yourself appropriately.  But, be sure to let the employer bring up the salary subject first.  You don’t want to seem like that’s all you care about. Many times the salary for a particular position will be advertised in the job description.  So you can start there in terms of figuring out how much to ask for.  If not, you can go to or to look up positions and the average salary associated with it.  Keep in mind the salary ranges are usually given for entry-level, mid-level and senior level.  So first identify what group you fall into.

So, say for instance you want a mid-level Marketing Analyst position.  The average mid-level salary in Dallas, TX is $55,089.  To get that targeted amount you should give a range that is a couple thousand dollars below and a couple thousand dollars above.   Most employers try to make candidates feel as if they really want them and tried to give them what they want.  So giving a range will give them some “wiggle room.”  You definitely don’t want to just say a specific dollar amount because you may sell yourself short if they were planning to give you more or you could eliminate yourself by saying a number that is too high.

So, the next time you are in an interview and you are asked about salary requirements, your response should be, “Based on my research I know that Marketing Analyst in this area make from $53,000 – $58,000. With my skills and qualifications I feel that I fit within this range. I am definitely willing to negotiate.” If you can say this confidently and without hesitation, it conveys to the employer that you have done your research and they will be more willing to take your salary requirements seriously and give you the amount you are requesting.

Dena Bilbrew has given career advice to over 3000 people nationwide.  Her career has spanned 20 years and has included 3 different industries – information technology, retail management, and career services.  Her keen ability to connect with the people she advises is due to the several changes in her own career.  With each career change she realized the importance of transferable skills and the value of “reinventing” yourself.  Dena’s passion for helping others led her to launch DB Professional Concepts (, which is designed to assist jobseekers nationwide with the tools needed to be successful in their careers.  She wants to empower others to take their future into their own hands and have the career they desire.  You can email Dena Bilbrew directly at to get assistance with resume restructuring, cover letter development, interview preparation, job search strategies, LinkedIn profiles, personalized coaching sessions, etc.