Many people get uncomfortable when asked about salary and sometimes get flustered about what to say since money is considered a taboo topic.
However, there are some situations where knowing what to say when asked about salary is crucial, like when you’re in a job interview, or when a colleague needs help in finding out if he/she is being underpaid.
Of course, there are other situations where you may be asked about your salary, like in social settings or on a date. When asked about salary in these situations, you’ll want to take a different approach in what to say.
We’ve prepared a guide with 18 of the top answers on what to say when asked about salary and how best to use them.
Why people ask about salary and what you should pay attention to
People ask about your current salary for different reasons, but in this post, we’ll focus on the three most popular situations, namely job interviewer, colleague, and date/love interest.
During most job interviews, potential employees are asked about salary expectations if the salary isn’t published with the job listing. They do this to find out if the hire is within their budget and if the potential candidate knows their worth. Another reason is to find out if the candidate would be happy within the role, meaning they would not be seeking higher-paying roles while in the post.
As a candidate, it’s a good idea to do industry research prior to the interview to find out the average salary for your job. Ideally, give a salary range instead of an exact amount.
For example, $40,000-50,000 annually versus $42,000 annually. You should also be willing to negotiate benefits to supplement the salary.
This question may also arise during salary negotiations when you have been in a job for a while. Here, you may want to refuse to name a salary as you may be lowballing yourself.
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Colleagues will ask this question for two main reasons. One of the most common reasons is to compare it to their salary and duties to determine if he/she is being paid fairly or equally.
Another common reason is merely for gossip’s sake. The only real way to find out why you are being asked is to question your colleague and hope he/she is telling the truth. Obviously, it’s up to you whether you want to answer or not.
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Relationships are built on transparency and trust, and knowing the financial situation of a partner is very important. These days, people are seemingly asking the question right off the bat before investing their time in a relationship that is not in line with their financial preferences.
If you are speed dating, or your love interest enquires about your salary after a couple of dates, you will have to analyze what you know about this person before you decide to answer. If you think he/she is only interested in money, you can refuse to answer and cut ties. However, if you understand the importance of one’s financial situation and you know that your love interest is financially stable and not looking for a money grab, you can go ahead and disclose as you please.
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7 examples of what to say when asked about salary by the job interviewer
When in the room with the job interviewer or hiring manager, the conversation will likely boil down to salary expectations or salary negotiation. You must be prepared to give the best possible answers to improve your chances of getting more money and greater benefits, and of course, improving your chances of being hired or promoted.
Here are 7 examples of what to say when asked about salary by a job interviewer:
01“This position is similar in responsibilities and duties as my last job, so I expect the salary will be around the same with similar benefits, that being within the $50,000 range”
This is a good response to use when you don’t have an issue with discussing the former salary, and you wish to let it be known that you are expecting no less than that.
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02“Given the added workload of this new position, I believe a salary increase of $7,000-$14,000 would be reasonable and appropriate.”
It is good to use this in salary negotiations when you get a promotion within the same company. You can try using it when applying for higher positions at different companies as well. Using a range gives greater flexibility on both parts and you are more likely to avoid getting lowballed this way.
03“While I am open to discussion of an exact figure, given my previous position and expertise in the field, I expect to receive a salary within the $60,000-$75,000 range.”
This is the type of response you’d want to use if you are willing to disclose the salary in a generalized way, and not be too precise.
04“In light of the change in job expectations and responsibilities since my hiring, I believe my current salary should reflect the overall increase in duties and productivity, and should be consistent with current employees at the same level.”
Use this when you don’t want to disclose an exact amount, but you want to emphasize the fact that you believe that you should be getting an increase since you are doing more work.
05“Could we perhaps go over all the job requirements and expectations before we discuss the salary?”
Use this to avoid getting lowballed. When you have a better understanding of what will be expected of you going forward, you will be more ready to suggest a figure.
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06“I would prefer not to comment on my current salary as the roles and responsibilities differ significantly. I will be more confident about discussing an expected salary after discussing the pertinent details.”
This is a good response to use if you don’t want to tell the interviewer how much you made at your last job. You do not have to answer if you don’t want to, and it should have no bearing on whether you get hired in a professional setting.
07“May I know what has been budgeted for this position and we can go from there?”
Use this if you are unsure about how much the company is willing to or able to pay, especially if the information from your research is limited. You may then combine it and determine if the offer is satisfactory enough to move forward in the hiring process.
5 best answers when asked about your salary by a colleague
In some instances, you may feel inclined to answer your colleague’s questions about your salary. That’s entirely up to you as there are many cases of inequality in the workplace.
If you don’t think that this is the case, or you don’t wish to risk your job or place yourself in an awkward position in that situation, you are free to decline to answer.
Here are 5 examples of what to say when asked about salary by a colleague:
08“Let me put it this way: if I was making enough, I wouldn’t drag myself out of bed every morning.”
This is a way to make light of an awkward situation. It answers the question in a very vague way and gives your colleague the hint that this is not something you are willing to discuss.
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09“We’ve been working together for a long time, so I know there’s a good reason for your question, but that’s just not something I’m willing to discuss. What I can tell you is that it’s probably not as much as you think.”
This is a straightforward answer to the question when you don’t feel like beating around the bush and dwelling in this awkward position. It lets the colleague know that they should turn their search elsewhere.
10“That’s a bit personal don’t you think? If you’re willing to forgive me for not answering, I’ll forgive you for asking in the first place.”
Use this when you want to let the colleague know that you are not comfortable with answering such personal questions and that you won’t hold it against him/her.
11“We don’t do the same job, so I don’t think this information would benefit you in any way. If there’s anything else I can do to help though, don’t hesitate to ask!”
This is a good answer to use if you are not willing to share the information because it is of no significance in whatever he/she is trying to accomplish.
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12“Remember that we’re in two different categories. For instance, I handle [insert department] and you deal with [insert department. I have a [insert qualifications] and you have a [insert qualifications]. I don’t think I’d be much help to your case, unfortunately.”
This is also good to use when your salary details are of no significance to whatever your colleague wishes to accomplish. It also goes into details of why so your colleague won’t feel too bad about it and will understand that it doesn’t make sense.
6 best answers to the question when asked by a date/love interest
As you have discovered through this article, or in reality, you may also be faced with questions about your salary from your love interest. Again, the decision to answer differs on a case-by-case basis.
We’ll be taking a look at 3 examples of what to say when asked about salary when you are willing to disclose but you don’t want to seem like a show-off or appear inferior. We’ll also take a look at what to say when asked about salary when you aren’t willing to disclose and how you can say that while remaining polite and friendly:
13“Enough to get one date with you, but probably not enough to get another.”
This is a witty answer you can use when you are trying to stay humble about how much you really make.
The tone you use will matter a lot and should convey that you don’t wish to brag about it.
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14“I make enough to live a comfortable life and take care of all my needs.”
You can use this when you want to say you are well off in a poised and well-mannered way without seeming like a snob.
15“I don’t want for anything, and at the end of the day, I have decent pocket change to fund my hobbies.”
This is another way to say that you are financially stable and are able to live a life that you love.