I'm having an HR interview soon with company A. I am certain that they will ask for my expected salary in the interview.

I've been doing some research on this company and found out that their average starting monthly salary is 1000. On the other hand, I hope to get a salary in the range of 1500-2000.

However, during interviews I always give the following statement "My expected salary depends on the whole package. It depends if it covers medical insurance, working hours, overtime, vacations, ...etc , so it's hard to give an exact number"

Of course they ask again for a number. I give the 2nd answer "I think a salary in the range of (1500-2000) will be great, BUT again it depends on the whole offer."


  1. Is this an appropriate attitude during an interview? I keep emphasizing the "whole package" idea because in my country salaries tend to be lower than the average.
  2. What if I get an offer of 1000? What is the correct way to negotiate the salary to reach my range?
  3. What if I get an offer of 1500 (my minimum range), but I feel the whole offer should make the salary 2000 or even more (ex: no overtime, working for 6 days a week instead of 5, no medical insurance)? How to ask for that professionally?


The salaries mentioned aren't real numbers (but they are close), so a 500 raise is a huge raise.

Don't be surprised by the offers because (no overtime, no medical insurance, ...etc.) is actually quiet common where I come from T_T

  • I once had this problem, since my previous salary was based on working a three day week. I simply recalculated what my salary would have been if I'd been working a 5 day week and declared my salary as 1500 pro rata (to use your scaling system *8').
    – Mark Booth
    Commented Jul 19, 2012 at 10:07
  • @MarkBooth sorry it seems I made a mistake in the post. What I meant is "They might make me work for 6 days a week with only one weekly vacation day instead of the normal 5 days with 2 weekly vacation days"
    – Long
    Commented Jul 19, 2012 at 10:24
  • @Songo - What I mean is, if you say 1500 pro rata specifying a 37.5 hour week, and they want you to work 45 hours per week then the pro rata bit implies a salary of 1800 in that case. Saying pro rata (in proportion) effectively means that everything should be relative. Higher salary but with lower benefits may not be better for you, however lower salary but with higher benefits might be.
    – Mark Booth
    Commented Jul 19, 2012 at 13:18

4 Answers 4


What (healthy) hiring company wants to know asking you this question is whether you're going to be content with what you get because otherwise you will be dissatisfied and likely leave soon. I don't make hires if I what I believe is fair value for one's skills and mindset is far from their expectations.

Bearing this in mind I would like you to give me an idea what makes you happy to accept 1500 (what should be in package) and what makes you happy to accept 2000. I don't say you are going to get exactly that, but the least you give me is insight which thing you value enough to accept lower salary. This basically makes it easier to offer you a package that is suitable for you.

Additionally, answers to you detailed quesitons:

  1. For me it's definitely appropriate attitude during interview. If for the company you're talking to it is not then you likely don't want to work for them anyway.

  2. If you get dissatisfying offer you can state that your expectations are different. You can state that in different ways, depending on your attitude: are you going to accept the offer when they don't change it or not? Btw: I know many companies that can renegotiate such offer even after it is made. Remember: the company is invested in this process too.

  3. Same as in 2. Basically you can't go wrong being honest and straightforward. As in the question about resigning from taking the job the more open you are with your motives the more respected you're going to be and more likely to reach consensus. Neither you nor the company want you to come to work disgruntled and if remuneration package is a problem here either get it from the table (find offer that satisfies both parties) or don't join.


When someone buys a house, they don't complain that the seller is making too much profit. They compare the house and price to other homes on the market. Similarly, it shouldn't matter what you were being paid somewhere else.

Say something like "Based on known offers to comparable developers, I estimate that my market value is approximately 2000 zorkmids per month". Framing the question in terms of the market makes it sound much more objective. It also makes it easier to justify a substantial increase from your current salary.


I take 2 approaches depending on if I want the position for the salary increase or for getting my foot in the door at the company.

Salary increase: Figure out what is the lowest you would accept and add some percentage on top of that. Like you, I always include the but it depends on the whole package thing because I always renegotiate for an extra weeks vacation since that is more important than the extra money or signing bonus too me.

Foot in the door: I would like the median salary for the position you are hiring me for. That way you don't start at the low end of the scale but also don't start so high that it scares them off or they can't give you raises in the future, which would also scare them off. Of course the company could lie about what that dollar amount is, but I think they understand that if you come aboard you'll find out that number anyways so why risk having a disgruntled worker.


What it basically comes down to is game theory. Under no circumstances do you want to make the opening move by giving out what you expect as your salary.

You essentially want an employer to make the opening move and from there you counter. If they as "What do you expect to be paid?" you can counter with something like "I'll accept whatever is fair based on the current economy and the market for others with my skill level and experience" or your first statement was good as well.

Sometimes they will push you hard for a number, but you want to duck this question as much as you can, as best as you can.

See a more detailed explanation for this here: http://stevehanov.ca/blog/index.php?id=67

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