After applying for a position at a company, I received a few more additional questions by email from the recruiter. The questions all seem like typical "next stage of the process" stuff related to the position, except for the last one which is about salary.

I've re-worded the question, but you'll get the idea:

Imagine you are the hiring manager. What is the salary range you would set for this position?

This strikes me as an inappropriate question at this stage of the process - a way of putting me on the defensive - and yet is phrased in a way that it feels like it must be answered.

How would you answer or push back on answering a question like this?

  • 1
    Ask them what the budget is, and what the range is for the other employees in that position? You would need that information before being able to answer it.
    – Herb
    May 29, 2017 at 5:10
  • There's not really scope to ask them questions at this stage - this was an email in response to an application and they are literally asking the applicant to pretend to be the hiring manager, @HerbWolfe
    – user70666
    May 29, 2017 at 21:21
  • @user70666 if you have $50,000 in the budget, but the position pays $80,000, then your range is up to $50,000, and you are likely to have trouble filling the position. However if the budget is $100,000, for the same pay, your salary range is going to be something like $75,000 - 85,000, with room to go higher for an exceptional candidate.
    – Herb
    May 29, 2017 at 21:33
  • @HerbWolfe no extra information (e.g. budgets) is available to me in the context of the question :\ I guess the response could be phrased in hypothetical terms using your figures, but I don't think that's what they're after...
    – user70666
    May 30, 2017 at 4:16

2 Answers 2


I think this is a rather typical question. Some of the options you have:

  1. Say you don't have a fixed number, but you would like to earn what your collegues in the same positions at other companies are earning
  2. Specify a number. For this I would suggest doing some research.
  3. Say you don't want to specify such thing, that is not your task to do so

When going for option two, you should decide how much you want to earn and what impression you want to give. If you give a higher number than you think you are worth, you will give a different expression than giving a lower number. Anyway, I doubt your actual salary will depend on what number you give.

It is more of a test rather than you determining your salary. I personally got the question when applying at my first job, and I went for the first option. Worked out quite well.

  • with the research option #2 add 10/20% for the opening offer May 29, 2017 at 9:44
  • 1
    It's not a question about what I want to earn (I mean, it is, but that's specifically not the phrasing). The question is asking you to step into the shoes of the hiring manager
    – user70666
    May 29, 2017 at 21:22

Research the range and determine if it's low.

If it's high you might be able to say mid-range (which is probably what they like to hear).

If it's low and hasn't increased with the Cost of Living then the answer is: "You want to work with the company that has the best employees, the best opportunity for advancement and the best prospect of longevity, you want to be the best and earn your pay".

If they need numbers only then you know them, try to determine if they know those same numbers - many places are geared to 'pay what they pay' and are shocked that there is backlash, you must tow the line or not be hired.

Translation: If we can't hired skillful people for very little money we'll have to close.

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