How to Answer – What is Your Salary Requirement?

The “what is your salary requirement” question is always a tricky and awkward one to answer.  The best way is to avoid answering it tactfully for as long as possible.   I recommend the following strategies in address the salary requirement question.

  1. Try your best to not provide any numbers – because you want to avoid either being too high or underselling yourself. Most recruiter friends always tell me “don’t be the first to draw blood”
  2. Re-focus the discussion on how the company reward above average performers, whether this company is the best fit, etc…This signals to the company that you believe you will be a top performer and that you can more about this role than just compensation
  3. Re-direct the question back to find out what the salary range is for this position? Therefore, making them show their cards first.   This is always a great way to deflect this question as well as find out if what they had in mind fits within what you expected.  If it does, you can respond vaguely and say “let’s focus on whether I am a good fit first and then hopefully we can talk about the right compensation based on my experience and skillsets”
  4. Tell them you are excited about the company – this subtly negotiates on your behalf, and if the company likes you and they don’t know your salary requirement, they may make you a salary offer on the higher end to make sure they can secure a positive response from you.

Here are some examples of salary requirement answers that have worked for me or my clients.

  • “Salary is only part of the picture. My number priority is finding the best fit for my career. I am very excited about this opportunity. I think I can be a valuable addition to this company. What is the salary range that the company is looking at for this position?”
  • “San Francisco is an expensive city to live in so starting salary is important, but what is also important to me is how this company rewards high performers. What is the bonus structure? How will compensation progress in a year or two?”
  • If pressed to provide a number, then try this “I hate to overshoot and be disqualified for this position, but if you need to know then the minimum I would accept for an ideal position is … ”

This last one give you room to negotiate since rarely is any job ideal.   Surprisingly the first two answers above usually work to deflect this question without providing a number.  If you have other suggestions that work, please share in the comments.  Thanks.

Good luck out there!  I am always in your corner.

– Lei

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