7 most difficult interview questions and how to answer them

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Question 7

What salary are you looking for

This is the question that many of my clients struggle the most with. Money may well be your main incentive for working so you must be able to negotiate a fair salary but what do you do when the interviewer asks you “what salary are you looking for” before they even offer you the job.

My first piece of advice would be never to be the one to give a number. What is important is that you prove yourself to be a worthy candidate and try to leave the salary discussion until you are being offered the job, or at the very least have made it through to the final interview.

If you have been able to find out the salary range for the job when doing your research on the company prior to the interview, then you are at an advantage as you can say that with your experience, you are looking for something at the top end of the salary range for the position. Without expressing an actual figure, you open the door to negotiation.

Another good way to respond to this question is to say that you would need to see the entire compensation package before you could make an informed decision as to the actual salary.  This is important as you need to decide whether or not a higher salary with few benefits is worth more to you than a lower salary with a lot of benefits.  Benefits can include things like health insurance, pension contributions, a car or travel expenses, training and/or a contribution towards training costs for example.

Related to this is whether or not you are looking to advance in the company. If so, you will need to make sure that there is a career path available to you and therefore you will need to know what performance evaluations and salary reviews there are once you are in the job.


Salary reviews are important because you might be prepared to start on a lower rate if you know that within 6 months there is the chance of an increase.

When it comes to negotiating salary, like all good negotiations, you are looking for a win/win scenario (negotiation is not about winning— unless both parties win)  which is why it is important to have done your homework about the company.  How they are performing is a good indicator of whether they will be looking to pay you a figure toward the lower end of the salary scale in order to protect their overheads. On the other hand, if they are known for recruiting the ‘best’ then they are more likely to be prepared to pay a higher rate.

I would also recommend that you do your research to find out the salary for similar roles in other companies in your geographical location although you have to be aware that what you find may not be an exact comparison due to variations in benefits but it will give you a good indication.

There are several websites that provide salary comparisons, for example,




You can also answer this question by saying that you expect to be paid in line with what other employees who have similar experience, skills, and education earn.  Equity amongst colleagues is an important factor when consider salary. We all want to feel that we are being paid a fair salary not just for the work we do but also when compared to our peers; everyone wants to be valued for their efforts.

If you really are pushed to give a number, give a range which is fair to both you and the company and state that the actual salary is negotiable depending on other factors – just bear in mind that they will probably come back to you with an offer at the lower end of your range.

And on a final note, if you don’t think the job is offering what you expect, you can always walk away. No matter what the reason, if you’re not going to be happy in the job, you don’t have to accept it.

f you have an interview coming up and would like help preparing for it, please contact me .

Related articles:

Question 1  – What achievement in your life are you most proud of?

Question 2 – Why are you interested in this job?

Question 3 – What are the biggest strengths you would bring to this Job?

Question 4 – What are your weaknesses?

Question 5 – Have you ever had a boss who you found difficult to work with?

Question 6 – How would you explain this to an 8 year old child?



I am a Certified Advanced Resume Writer, Employment Interview Consultant, and Career Coach and it is my aim to help ambitious and motivated people like you become fully empowered to get the job you want.