If the question, “What are your salary requirements?” makes chills run up your spine, read on!

In full disclosure, I think this is a lazy, manipulative question. It can eliminate great candidates who don’t know how to handle it, and even worse, it perpetuates systemic wage gaps. In fact, my state, Delaware, is one of 17 states that have made it illegal to ask what you earned in your last role in an application or interview for just that reason.

But if you aren’t lucky enough to be applying to one of those companies that has transparent pay scales, you still need to find a way to answer the question.

The key here is to deflect, and also do some research so that, if pressed, the question doesn’t catch you unprepared.

Salary Question Deflection

Be completely honest and say,

“I don’t want to give an uninformed answer, and I don’t really know enough about the role yet. Also, I wouldn’t want a random figure to take me out of consideration for what might be a great fit. That said, if you have a range, I’m happy to tell you if we are in the ballpark.”

Salary Research

Here are a few ways to determine a likely range for the job you want:

1. Go to Glassdoor.com, plug in the job title and see what the site predicts for roles like that

2. Visit https://www.bls.gov/ooh/ and search on the field you are in. It will offer salary ranges based on educational level and experience

3. Check out sites like salary.com or payscale.com, that will give you a range based on your location and experience level

With all of that information in hand, come up with a range that makes sense, and add 10% to each end. That’s your minimum if you have to enter it into an online application, and your range if pressed. If that isn’t enough for your needs, bump it some more until it’s where you need it to be.

When in doubt, check your numbers with a friend, connection, or representative of a professional organization in your field. Whatever you do though, always negotiate – be clear about your value and worth!

Cheers to your career!


Ever wonder how to land the job of your dreams?
Find out how with 10 Habits of Successful Job Candidates!