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In a phone call today with a possible future employer, they asked me what my salary expectations were. I wasn't prepared for this question and didn't have an answer. They offered me a range of 42k-50k and asked me to pick. In the moment I didn't want to sound overly greedy at the higher 50k side, but I didn't want to sound overly humble at 42k so I said 45.5k.

Was this the "correct" response?

What can I do to improve upon this question when or if it ever comes up again?

Do employers take this question and base your actual salary on the response?

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    "It depends on the total compensation package, which we can discuss later" – Old_Lamplighter Aug 1 '17 at 20:05
  • What's the job title? – sleddog Aug 1 '17 at 20:10
  • Junior Developer-Support Analyst @sleddog – Bender Bending Aug 1 '17 at 20:11
  • @BenderBending Which country/state? That has a big impact, too. – sleddog Aug 1 '17 at 20:11
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    This should be a question you should always be prepared to respond in a job interview. You even had something in your favor, that is they gave a figure first (as explained in the possible duplicate). Therefore they were willing to give you the 50k. If they didn't gave you a figure what would you have said? As you see, it could have ended way lower if you don't have some figure in mind – DarkCygnus Aug 1 '17 at 20:15
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I wasn't prepared for this question and didn't have an answer.

That was a mistake. You must be prepared for this common question.

They offered me a range of 42k-50k and asked me to pick. In the moment I didn't want to sound overly greedy at the higher 50k side, but I didn't want to sound overly humble at 42k so I said 45.5k.

Was this the "correct" response?

If 45.5k would be a comfortable salary that would make you happy, then it was the "correct" response.

If you will be unhappy accepting 45.5k, then the correct response would have been higher.

What can I do to improve upon this question when or if it ever comes up again?

Practice how you will answer this question in the future. Try to deflect the question, but have a specific number in mind that you would accept if offered in case they require a specific dollar amount.

  • "I'd prefer to put the discussion of salary aside for now - at least until I learn more about the company and the job"
  • "I think I bring a lot of value to this job and I'd like a salary commensurate with that value"
  • "I think I'm worth [whatever the top of the range being offered is] and I know I can show you that I deserve it"

Do employers take this question and base your actual salary on the response?

Yes, many do. Some don't. And in some locales, it's not even a question employers are allowed to ask.

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    As for being prepared for the question: you need to know your make-or-break number. A good measure is how little money could you live on, paying all your bills and having a little money for fun. If your MoB is $45k and they offer you $44, you would flat-out refuse it unless they would be willing to raise their offer. – BryanH Aug 1 '17 at 21:35

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