Answering salary requirements question during an interview?

I’ve been on a number of interviews recently and I have always been asked what my salary requirements are. I typically answer with a $10K range eg. $50-60k.

Do they take this into consideration when giving me a salary offer?

Since I gave them my target range, how can I negotiate outside that range?

My logic here tells me that after I set the range in the initial interview, it kinda sets a “cap” on the salary I can expect/negotiate. (this is assuming I do not have another offer I can use for leverage)

Setting a range helps both you and the company. It lets them know if they are way out of the ballpark, to not bother. You or they may have different expectations. A good company will take into account your range in an offer, but only to the extent that they wouldn’t offer too far outside the range, knowing you wouldn’t be interested, unless they have something more to offer or no other candidates.

That said, giving a range is always a good idea and you should take into consideration all the factors. You can’t really negotiate outside your range later. You can, however buffer your range, but adding “depending on total compensation package”. That is, benefits, bonuses, relocation, etc. could all be factors in addition to just salary.

You could also up front ask them for a range for the position, but many companies will not give this info out. Typically, they control the process.

Salary negotiation process is also different to consider depending on level. If you are competing against 50 fresh grads for a job in small market, it might be different than a negotiation for a Director or higher level position where they are actively trying to recruit you from another position/company.

Best of luck,


If you’re going to put a range, make the lower end $5,000 more than the least you would be comfortable working for.

Because I have found employers will often try to low ball you. Then make the range at least 10K.

So if the least you want to be paid is $50,000, say $55,000 - $65,000

Good advice. But, most importantly, be certain you have an answer for that question before you get to the interview.

I hate that question.

And when I do get that question, I purposely answer it in a vague manner - I expect the salary to reflect industry standards.

Case in point, I would have low-balled myself if I started at $15K more than my minimum to the offer I received.

Turn the table. Ask them to tell the range they can offer first.

One other thing to consider is that some employers will ask (demand) that you give them past salary information, which is none of their business. Respond to this with what your salary requirements are and/or what you feel the job they are offering is worth to you, or what the local market industry standards are. Do provide a range, but if pressed do not reveal past salary history, if they close the door on the opportunity because you refuse to provide it you’ve probably dodged a bullet as it’s likely the employer that price shops for talent, and do you really want to work with employees who are the lowest bidders?

I disagree about the confrontational approach recommended above.

I used to be of the same mind (not wanting to provide requirements or past salary info), but now I realize that it helps you, rather than hurts you. If you have a solid salary history, it puts your range in context and shows what you are worth. Not providing it can make your range seem unreasonable. What do you have to hide? Do you have a history of 30-40K and now are asking for 75k? Sure, don’t tell, but it’s not going to help you.

As said, the range and history questions are to your benefit to allow the company to value you accordingly. If they have in mind $50K, and you provide a range of $60-70k with a history to back that up, it that shows you are looking for a reasonable amount and if they value you will maybe reconsider the range.

A good company will want to get the best person for the job, not worry about saving $5-10,000 if you can show you bring that value.


It puts in context what your current/previous employer thought that you were worth. The fallacy in recommending you provide past salary information (if asked) is in assuming the new employer values the same things in a candidate as the previous employer. Most people seek new employment because they are not satisfied, so why would you recommend considering a new employer with the same values?

Sure it will help you, lots of people seek new employment because they feel (and are legitimately) underpaid, undervalued, or under-appreciated. I’m not saying a candidate should go in and high-ball on salary as some sort of scam, but that they should do their homework on the local market ranges and request what is realistic based on that and their own needs. If that doesn’t fit with what the employer is willing to pay, then volunteer the information to make a better case as you suggest.

It’s not that I would have anything to hide, it’s that it’s none of their business and I am not legally obligated to provide that information as some employers try to claim. It isn’t confrontational to decline to disclose that information, however it is confrontational for employers to “require” it, it can be used as a pressure tactic meant to stack the negotiating deck against candidates unfairly.

I agree, and I would volunteer the information to make the case, my issue is with employers requiring it as a method to low-ball candidates. The compensation should match the position you are applying for, not the one you had.

Like all negotiations, your strategy should vary based on your leverage. As a young grad coming out of school, looks like you have a couple of years experience. You really have very little leverage. The only possible leverage you have is to have multiple offers. getting my first job I had nothing to really bargain with so I accepted the offer given. When I left that job 4.5 years later I had a wealth of experience and I interviewed for 5 positions, got offers from my top 3, narrowed it down to two and let them both know I had other offers and what they were. Leverage.

Another piece of leverage is having an awesome job you don’t want to leave. So I answer the salary question honestly and then I let them know the premium it would take to get me to leave a job I already love (now you might want to leave, but you have to negotiate). I once stated that the requirement would be double… I didn’t get double, but I got a lot more than if I just negotiated off the current salary… but you need to have that leverage. The demand must be higher than the supply. Otherwise it will backfire. Both parties should leave the negotiation feeling they got what they needed.


I think you just made my case for me. If you left a position because you were underpaid, present that. Say “X is where I was at, and I think Y is what I’m worth, because of A, B, C”. Either the company realizes you are worth Y and wants you, or they think you are worth X, in which case they aren’t interested and wouldn’t be making an offer. They would’t be interested at offering you X again if they know that doesn’t match your expectations and you walked from that before, all else being equal.

If you think of it as them vs. you, you aren’t going in with the right mindset. Sure, you don’t have to tell them what you want or what you were paid. They also don’t have to tell you what the position is offering. All the total secrecy gets is a waste of everyones time.

If you are looking for a job, hopefully you’ve done your research and are looking for a company and position that fits your expectation. If you are applying someplace where you are surprised at the range, or not interested in the job, you haven’t done your homework.


To put it another way, you are worth what someone is willing to pay you and what you accept. If you are unhappy with your current salary, why did you accept the position? If you can get what you value yourself at, then there is no issue letting them what that number is or how it compares to where you are at now.


Totally agree, but I don’t think we are talking about the same thing here. What I think you are talking about is discussing salary history as part of negotiations which I agree with, but what I’m talking about is employers requesting salary history right up front and using it as a go no go towards an interview.

It is a red flag to me when this question is part of the initial screening process, whether it is on an application or from an HR screener or an up-front interview question from a hiring manager, especially when it’s made clear that it is “required”. Granted it will screen out applicants that you might otherwise waste your time with, but on the other hand it may screen great talent out of an interview that could lead to mutually beneficial negotiations.

Yes, I was talking about salary info during negotiations/interview, not on application. I’ve never seen that. Though, I suppose same thinking applies. If your salary history is low you won’t get thrown out of the pile and can negotiate a higher salary based on whatever you can bring to the table (understanding maybe they have a range for the position). If your history is high, you might get tossed out of the pile, but then chances are you wouldn’t likely be interested in a job paying less. Of course there are exceptions like when you want to get into a new industry and could accept less, or your history was artificially low for some other reason.

As mentioned, you can always qualify your history and leave enough wiggle room by including “plus benefits” or some other such wording.


All great info! Thanks for the input guys.

I’m currently not in a negotiating situation, but I noticed it is a question that has been asked at about 95% of the interviews I’ve been on. It does stink that really the only leverage I would have in a negotiating situation would be if I had a second offer on the table, but hey, gotta pay your dues and get that experience first (without undervaluing yourself).

I ask the question when I want to interview as well. I just want to make sure we have the budget to pay the person appropriately. If we don’t then I do not want to get anyone’s hopes up, as much as I’ll enjoy spending the time together.

In my opinion, companies should include that in their offer, something like ‘‘The salary will be in between X and Y, negotiable depending on qualification and experience’’ or ‘‘Salary starting at X’’. Sometimes it’s hard to know if the average salary for a city is higher or lower than what you have in mind, especially when you apply to a totally different country. Anyway, you should dig a bit and try to find out what people in a similar position earn there.

I don’t know if it is an increasing trend for employers to ask for past salary history as part of the initial screening process, but I have had a few friends encounter this recently, one of them tried to strong-arm him, it was BS.

I agree with IDAL though that it helps when employers disclose a number or range and put it DOE (Depending on Experience) in the job ad. Applying for jobs in other states/countries with different costs of living just takes some research on the part of the candidate, there’s info and calculators out there to help with this.

Companies don’t put a salary range as it is a competitive advantage against competing companies. Otherwise any company would know they just have to offer more to get the better people.


For more common positions though. makes it pretty easy to get a good range.

Maybe the salary range is a bit too much, but I’ve seen it a few times, especially when it’s for a position where you’d have to relocate (Mainly China or Asia). However, in my opinion, a starting salary would be quite convenient for both parties. Candidates who think the conditions aren’t good enough wouldn’t apply and who ever takes the position is gonna be happy with it, because everything was clear from the beginning.