HOW TO ANSWER: How Much Should We Pay You?

HOW TO ANSWER: How Much Should We Pay You?

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How Much Should We Pay You Daniel Mutuku

As a Career Coach, 99% of my client always ask me this question. How they should answer the question of salary in an interview. So, today I have decided to share with you how to tackle this question.

In this article, you will learn:

  • Why this question is important and tricky at the same time,
  • Why it is asked,
  • Sample answer and why they work,
  • Tips and framework on answering this question
  • Plus what not to say.

While it’s important to prepare yourself for skills, behavioural, and talent-related interview questions through practice or hiring an interview coach. It’s equally important to get ready for the money question.

Answering the salary question the wrong way can cost you a job offer. It can also put you in an untenable situation by forcing you to consider a job at a less-than-desirable salary.  After all, in some circumstances, the only thing worse than failing to get a job offer after an interview, is failing to get an offer that’s sufficient to support you and/or your family.

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MUST READ:Work with NGOs Starting Salary- Ksh 200k

Why it’s Important… and Tricky

You may be wondering what the big deal about the money question is. It’s one question that often stumps job candidates. Not only that, but it can change the climate of an interview from red hot to ice cold as a result of a few digits of difference in thinking.

Why do companies ask job candidates the salary question? Ultimately, company leaders and HR professionals want to know if they can afford you before they invest time and resources courting you to come to work for them.

Some employers are bargain hunting. Despite a general market value for certain positions, some companies place a bigger premium on certain positions than other companies. This means that the salary they expect to pay for a certain position may be lower or higher than the going rate.

Another possible reason is that they’re trying to see how you value your work. Are you confident enough to ask for what you deserve or will you meekly accept whatever they offer?

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► Your mission: Sell them on you, and convince them of your worth to their organization before you reach the point of salary negotiations.

How to Answer The Salary Questions

To prepare a response, you should have a sense of what someone in your field, and in your geographic area, typically earns. This will allow you to answer with a reasonable salary range.

Use one of the many websites that offer salary averages and estimates. Sites like, and all have salary data you can review.

MUST READ:Work with NGOs Starting Salary- Ksh 200k

Check Out: Kenya Monthly Salary for Different Fields and Professions

They should be fairly similar, but there may be some differences. Therefore, if you have time to look at more than one source, you may get a better perspective of the salary range.

Remember to narrow your research to your region. Salaries for a job in Nairobi, will be different from those in Nakuru or Mombasa.

From this research, you can come up with a reasonable salary range to mention to the employer when asked about your expectations. However, if the research numbers seem off to you, just go with your gut. You don’t want to go to the hiring manager with a salary range that is way too high or way too low.

Examples of the Best Answers

My salary range is quite flexible. I would, of course, like to be compensated fairly for my decade of experience and award-winning sales record. However, I am very open to discussing specific numbers once we have discussed the details of the position.

Why It Works: This response works well for the candidate because it mentions that the applicant is well qualified for the job, but is also flexible regarding salary requirements.

My salary requirements are flexible, but I do have significant experience in the field that I believe adds value to my candidacy. I look forward to discussing in more detail what my responsibilities at this company would be. From there, we can determine a fair salary for the position.

Why It Works: Asking for more information before committing to a salary range is a good way to avoid mentioning compensation before the hiring manager does. You could follow-up with a question about what the company anticipates offering the candidate who is hired.

I would need to learn more about the specific duties required of this position, which I look forward to learning more about in this interview. However, I do understand that positions similar to this one pay in the range of Ksh X to Ksh Z in our region.

With my experience, skills, and certifications, I would expect to receive something in the range of Ksh Y to Ksh Z.

Why It Works: With this response, the applicant lets the employer know that he or she is aware of what similar positions pay. The answer also mentions a range, which provides more room for negotiation than stating a set salary requirement.

I am open to discussing what you believe to be a fair salary for the position. However, based on my previous salary, my knowledge of the industry, and my understanding of this geographic area, I would expect a salary in the general range of Ksh X to Ksh Y. Again, I am very open to discussing these numbers with you.

Why It Works: As with the other answers, it’s always a good idea to note that you’re open to discussing a reasonable salary for a job.

MUST READ:Work with NGOs Starting Salary- Ksh 200k

Tips for Giving the Best Answer

Say you’re flexible. You can try to skirt the question with a broad answer, such as, “My salary expectations are in line with my experience and qualifications.” Or, “If this is the right job for me, I am sure we can come to an agreement on salary.” This will show that you are flexible.

Offer a range. Even if you start by emphasizing your flexibility, most employers will still want to hear specific numbers. In this case, offer them a range (plus or minus about Ksh 40,000 – Ksh 50,000). This will allow you to remain flexible while still giving the employer a clear answer. You can create this range based on research or your own experience in the industry.

Think about your current salary. In addition to researching salaries, you can come up with a salary range by using your current or previous salary as a starting point, especially if you are making a lateral move in the same industry. Unless your last company was known in the industry for its low salaries, assume that your current salary is in line with market expectations. Of course, if you are making a geographic move, keep in mind any changes in the cost of living. It’s always a good idea to know what you’re worth in the current job market.

Give yourself a raise. What if you believe it’s time for a raise? Think about what you would consider a fair raise from your current employer, and that could be a good low-end starting point for the new job. Or ratchet up your current pay by as much as 15 to 20 percent, which gives you an incentive to switch companies, and is still within a reasonable range for your industry and level of experience.

Only give numbers you’d be happy with. Remember, only offer a range that you find acceptable – one that gives you the means to support yourself and your family, if you have one.

Highlight your skills. In your answer, you can subtly emphasize why you are a good fit for the position. You can say something like, “Based on my 10 years of experience in this field, I would expect a salary in the range of Ksh Y to Ksh Z.” Before mentioning any numbers, remind the interviewer why he or she should offer you a salary in the first place.

Be prepared to negotiate. Many candidates are hesitant to ask for more money because they are concerned that it could cost them a job offer. However, you may be able to negotiate your way to a higher starting salary. But hold off on asking until you actually have an offer to consider.

What Not to Say

Avoid giving a set amount. If you can avoid mentioning a specific salary until after the employer mentions to, it will be easier to negotiate.

Don’t Price Yourself Out of a Job. Don’t ask for a Ksh 100,000 salary if your research shows the job is worth half of that. You may price yourself out of a job offer ifyou come in too high.

Don’t be Negative. Even if the amount you’re offered seems insultingly low, respond gracefully and ask if there is room to negotiate. Show gratitude for the offer and enthusiasm about the potential of the position before you dive into negotiating mode.

The bottom line: You don’t have to live in fear of interview questions about money or even a salary offer that’s on the low side of what you want or need. Following these tips will help you navigate the tricky waters of salary negotiations, while keeping your head above water.

MUST READ:Work with NGOs Starting Salary- Ksh 200k

Daniel Mutuku,

Personal and Professional Development Coach at Careerpoint Solutions



Also read: The Top 12 Tips to Negotiating Salary at a Job Interview

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