While interviewing for a new position, I am often asked about salary expectations and I am fully prepared to answer this question. However while the HR response is usually "oh yes that seems fine" by the time I get an offer it is much lower than I am willing to work for.

Is there a way I can ask for, and actually get, their desired range or target salary before they make an offer?

I would prefer not to fly in and interview in person if its going to be a bust anyway.

  • 1
    You broke the golden rule: the first person to name a number in salary negotiations loses. May 24, 2018 at 19:49
  • Were you interviewed and received an offer already?
    – Isaiah3015
    May 24, 2018 at 19:49
  • Yes. This has happened multiple times
    – user87411
    May 24, 2018 at 19:50
  • 5
    Like @PhilipKendall said, I suggest you check Does the first person to mention a number in a salary negotiation lose?
    – DarkCygnus
    May 24, 2018 at 20:03
  • Was the offer in the ball park. BTW - A job is a bit more than money. For example - ease of getting to work, the nature of the job, the office environment, potential advancement of career ,,,,
    – Ed Heal
    May 24, 2018 at 20:03

3 Answers 3


Your question was,

Is there a way I can ask for, and actually get, their desired range or target salary before they make an offer?

Really, this is two questions: how can you ask? And, Will you get THE answer?

It is reasonable to ask for the salary range they have budgeted for the position, as part of the hiring process, before an offer is formally extended. However, it is not likely that you will receive the exact number they are planning to offer you - mostly because they may not have a specific, exact number in mind yet.

In terms of how - it's common in interviews for the interviewer to give the candidate a chance to ask questions. At that point, you can mention,

I am curious about the salary range that was budgeted for this position, in order to understand if we will be a good fit for each other in terms of compensation. Also, I'm interested to hear an overview of other benefits - bonuses, time off, healthcare, etc.

If you'd like to determine this before the interview, it's very reasonable to ask the recruiter during any pre-screening that takes place. I wouldn't phrase it as "I don't want to waste my time flying in for an interview" since that might come off as a little egotistical (although it's a perfectly legitimate reason). Phrasing it as a matter of overall fit is appropriate.

It's worth noting that coming to a general understanding that salary is in the right ballpark is arguably an important part of the prescreening process, so it's totally reasonable to ask. This is also the reason why the employer is asking you what your number is, at that point in the process.

If you're curious about overall negotiation tactics, there are lots of good questions on that topic. Searching on the job-offer and negotiation tags will get you a lot of reading material.

  • My problem is that I do ask. And they reply that is within the range. But then it isn't.
    – user87411
    May 24, 2018 at 20:33
  • Your question stated that they asked you for a number. Is that the case, or are you asking them?
    – dwizum
    May 24, 2018 at 20:34
  • @user87411 Who tells you it's within the range, and is then proven wrong later? The recruiter? Are you working with a single recruiting agency? If so, you may want to consider not working for an agency that lies about (or is ignorant of) where the price really is.
    – Steve-O
    May 24, 2018 at 20:38
  • 1
    @user87411 If this is the case, then you should bring up your previous conversation (emails are always good to have these conversations but even over phone you can "remind them") and call it out with the recruiter you spoke with. "Hey so I originally had a conversation about an expected salary range budgeted for this position and I noticed that the salary being offered isn't within that. Can you explain that?" Perhaps there's a nicer way of saying that but don't let them step over you.
    – Kevin Xu
    May 24, 2018 at 21:20
  • 1
    @user87411: This is where you need to be willing to walk away. Just remind them that you were told the salary would be in whatever range they originally said, tell them you aren't interested in the lower salary, and thank them for their time. If they really want you, they'll (usually) tell you they'll see if they can increase their offer and get back to you.
    – GreenMatt
    May 25, 2018 at 15:06

I have observed two constants in my career: everybody loves a deal, and HR is often more invested in the process than the result.

Combine those two in a job search/employee hiring process, and what you get is HR trying to get you in the door at the lowest possible cost, and they will drag you through the process as far as they can in the hopes that you will accept a low ball offer. That makes them look good to management because they got a new body in the door, cheap-cheap! If you refuse at the end of the process, it's your fault (according to HR) and they don't look bad.

I know, I know, so young, yet so cynical already...


I think it's entirely possible that HR is not at all misleading you in this situation.

If you're asking them if a particular number is within the range they're considering when you're right at the start of the negotiation and they know very little about you - then they could answer in all honesty that it is.

However, once they've interviewed you and determined for themselves what your particular skill-set is worth to them, they could honestly feel that you're expecting too much for what you're able to deliver - and therefore make you a lower offer.

If this is the case then there's no dishonesty taking place - possibly just a difference of opinion between you and them regarding the value of your work to their organization.
They may well be prepared to offer whatever you're asking (or more) to someone who fits their requirements better than they perceive you do.

  • I accept that this is definitely possible. However I am currently employed and this has happened multiple times with different companies HR contacts during my attempt to find my next employment opportunity.
    – user87411
    May 24, 2018 at 20:52

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