Interview 101: What Is Your Salary Expectation?

  Arielle Sandor wrote this on
February 10, 2016 | 5 Comments

How to respond in a job interview when they ask "Tell me about yourself." Follow this advice and succeed on the interview.

  • Do they expect me to give them the real answer or the amount to start negotiating from?
  • How can I find out what is a normal rate for my position?
  • What happens if I quote too high/too low?

First let’s understand…

Why is the employer asking you this question?

They want to understand what range you are looking for to make sure it matches up with their approximate budget

  • TOO HIGH: If your salary expectation is WILDLY different from the budget for the role, it could be an indication that it is not a good between you and the company. There would be no reason to progress to the second and third rounds of the interview with a candidate that will ultimately be demanding more money that the company has budgeted for.
    • Is this your fault?
    • No. It just means it wasn’t a good fit. If you know you can’t live under a certain amount, be honest with yourself and understand that this job wasn’t the best fit for you.
  • TOO LOW: On the other side, if you quote a salary that is way too low (much below market rates), it shows you don’t value yourself and understand your worth. This could be something the employer sees as a red flag because they want someone who is confident in their abilities.
  • JUST RIGHT: If your salary range falls somewhere in-line with their budget, the interviews will go on and negotiations will happen at the end of the interview process.

They want to make sure you have researched the role

One way to see if a candidate is serious or not is to see if they have done their own background check.

Knowing what the going rate for this type of role is an important way to stand your ground during the negotiation.

But don’t just use the going market rate. You can include why your unique experience, schooling, and achievements should play a part in your salary package. Your quoted salary should be a mixture of the going market range and what value you feel you are bringing to the position.

Going market rates are sometimes hard to find in Kenya. You can always tweet, or FB message us to check up on a salary range. We are happy to help you get to the bottom of it!

They want to understand your lower limit and how much they can push

At Duma Works, we use a salary equation based on years experience, level of role, and a few more things to determine salary package. We don’t try to negotiate people down. Not all employers are this transparent, and some do want to see your lowest limit.

If you feel like you are in this situation, start with a salary expectation that is a bit higher than the lowest you are willing to go, but still within a reasonable range based on going market rate and your value as discussed above.

Important things to remember –

Be prepared

It is not unheard of for an employer to ask this question on the first interview. Be prepared with an answer even if it is the first time you are meeting.

Don’t lie

The employer is legally able to request for a past pay slip to check what your last salary was. It is bad practice to tell the employer you were making 100,000KES but you were really only making 40,000KES, and they can find you out.

Your past salary does not define your expected salary

You don’t just need to try to make a few thousand more than your last role. If you are moving into a position that, according to the job description, will require much more effort, time, and that you will be managing many more projects, it is logical to ask for a salary in a different range than you were previously making. If you articulate this reasoning clearly, it can be a key tool for negotiating.


I hope this helps you succeed on the interview! If you liked this article, maybe you will like our other Interview101: How to answer when the interviewer asks you “Tell me about yourself.”

Comment below or tweet us @DumaWorks with#Interview101 for any other questions about how to respond when an interviewer asks you to tell him/her about yourself.

As always, to get job alerts from us about opportunities that match your professional profile, create a free account on dumaworks.com. You can also check out our JOBS page if you would like to scroll through opportunities on your own! 🙂


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