In email correspondence I was asked a few questions that I am to answer before my interview.

One of those questions was: "What are your salary requirements?"

How can I approach this question when I haven't even been interviewed yet? I know what similar jobs pay in the area... but I don't even know all of the position responsibilities yet ...24hr on-call, weekends, time off, travel, ect.

I don't want to just say an amount and have them hold that over me if I think it is too little for the work I want... but I also don't want to go too high and cut my chances of even getting interviewed.

What is the best way to respond this?


3 Answers 3


I recently went through this.

I was called by a recruiter working for a company I was interested in. Asked me questions about my experience, why I wanted to work there, etc. Then the dreaded "what are your salary requirements?"

My answer was "I'd rather hold off on the salary discussion until I have a chance to see what my responsibilities are, in addition to seeing how my skills can help your company."

He accepted that answer, but told me that this discussion will have to happen at some point. I told him I agreed, but that point was not at this time.

Companies say they do this because "we don't want to waste time interviewing someone who is over/under our range". But in my experience, that's total bs. If they are worried about things like that, they don't pay enough. They ask that question to get a leg up over the negotiation process early on.

If the recruiter didn't take that answer well, I would have asked for a range they were thinking for the position, and asked for the upper end of that. Remember, whoever gives a number first in a negotiation loses and in the pre-interview stage, you have less power than the company does. After the interview, however, your power increases greatly because the company has invested a lot of time in you at this point. So taking this into account, it is better to wait until you have the interview to discuss numbers.

I have had instances where the recruiter didn't share the range, and said that if I didn't give a salary requirement then there was no point of further discussion. I told them have a nice day and good luck. That is a hardball tactic that is played way too early in the process, and tells me the company is looking to pay the lowest amounts possible for people.


If you have no idea, then you have no idea. In which case it's best to leave it open and reply that you're salary requirements are dependent on information you do not have yet.

Then a short list of the criteria you need to judge.

Best not to tie yourself to anything in writing until you have a solid idea. Because you have no way of knowing the companies motivation, whether they're looking for someone cheap, or even just fishing for someone desperate enough to engage in an auction for their job.


I'm assuming that there was an advert for the position you are applying for, and that there were details on what skills/responsibilities they expect from someone in that position. They might also have posted salary range in the advert - if your expectation is already above that range, then be prepared to not get the job - they've already told you what they're prepared to pay.

Now, reply to their query with an honest salary and package that you think that particular job rates, and that you would be happy with. By package, I mean to include all leave allowances and extras (for example, here in South Australia, you should include the expectation that company will pay the standard employer contribution to you superannuation fund) that you want to be considered with the salary.

  • If you do not answer - they could mark you down as "difficult", when everyone else has happily answered. They might even insist you answer before interviewing. They are trying to save themselves time by using expectations as a screen.

  • If you answer lower than you'd really be happy with - then you lose the negotiations right off. You will not be able to raise salary until some time later (typically, at least a year), and the amount you'd be able to raise it will likely be limited.

  • If you answer honestly what your expectation is, and get an interview, then you'd be likely to get an offer that is reasonably in line with that (probably with 5%).

  • If you don't get an interview after asking honestly, then take that as a sign - you probably wouldn't have been happy doing that job for less than you think it would be worth.

  • If you get an offer way below your expectation (more than 10%) - also take that as a sign. They have wasted yours and their time. You will almost certainly not be able to shift them up enough to be close to your expectations.

In the end - it doesn't matter when salary expectations are introduced in the conversation, the outcomes are going to be about the same.

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