Answering the "Desired Salary" Question

Posted: March 27, 2023

Have you been asked your desired salary on a job application or during an interview? How did you respond? Anticipating these questions, practicing your reply options, and researching the salary range for that role can help you feel more prepared and confident.

What should I do when asked about salary on a job application?

Ideally, the employer is the first to name a salary figure. For job applications, if you can leave it blank, do so. If you must write something, consider entering “negotiable” or “market rate” to leave room for negotiation and time to learn the details of the role before discussing an appropriate salary range.

How should I respond when asked during an interview?

If you’re asked during an interview, consider responding with: “Salary is important, of course, but what’s most important to me is a job using my skills for an organization that’s a good fit. So could I ask you [question about the job…]? or “I have researched the market rate, but I’d be interested in your hiring range. What do you have budgeted for this position?”

Gathering more information about the role will enable you understand the value to assign. It will also help to circumnavigate the question so you (hopefully) aren’t forced to name a number.

What about if I am pressed to respond with numbers?

If you are pressed to give a range and are being put on the spot, that’s where your previous salary research will come in handy! Identify the salary midpoint to the salary highpoint and quote that range. This will allow you to not lowball or price yourself out of the job. Determine this range by assessing your value and the market rate. Use reputable salary sources including the Educate to Career Salary Calculator and ECS Data, which is specific to Ohio State engineering students.

Find more salary and offer resources in the Handshake Resource Library and consider scheduling a meeting with an ECS Advisor if you have additional questions.

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