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Rejected Because Of Salary Expectations

Rejected Because of Salary Expectations?

If you’ve been rejected because of salary expectations, there could be a lot of reasons why. One of which is you gave an expectation in the interview process that was below what you would actually accept. If so, it might have gone something like this:

What NOT to do

HIRING MANAGER: “So, what are you looking to get paid?” (Question nonchalantly thrown in after a great conversation about the company and role)

CANDIDATE: “Well…I was thinking a salary somewhere around $90,000 to $95,000…but I can maybe be flexible into the $80s.” (feeling warm and fuzzy, she isn’t thinking about how she is NOT planning to make a lateral salary move)

Said candidate leaves hiring manager’s office. Then realizes “$80s” was overly vague, especially given her current salary of $87,000. But she DID state $90,000 to $95,000. Right? Right. It will all work out.

Actually, that hiring manager only heard $80s. And got excited. Because $90,000 is pushing just over budget and will require signatures. Maybe he can get this person for $85,000.

Why this could lead to rejection because of salary expectations

So now, after a fantastic interview, one little slip of the tongue has tee’d this situation up for possible failure.

Because now the hiring manager has the potential to feel misled when this candidate counters an $85,000 offer.

The candidate has the potential to feel devalued and disenchanted with an offer below her current salary.

This is like a balloon of excitement and momentum about to be popped.

It may seem like splitting hairs over a few thousand dollars. But the way expectations are set from the beginning can set the tone for the rest of the process.

Even if you’re not a people pleaser by nature, it’s completely human to want to fit in, be liked, conform, gain acceptance, however you want to say it.

Sometimes this desire causes extremely talented and confident people to hedge in the heat of the moment and say a lower number than they would accept.

Don’t do it!

The RIGHT way to talk about salary expectations

Here are my top tips for answering questions so you don’t get rejected because of salary expectations.:

  • Go in prepared. Do your research on what this type of role in this industry SHOULD pay for your experience and skill level in your city. Check out,, and Hunt deeper for salary surveys. Ask people you trust who are in the same role.
  • Consider the market and how desirable the role is for you? Are you a shoe in or is it a stretch? A shoe in and you could ask for more. A stretch and you may need to flex a bit within your acceptable range to land the job. If it’s a hot market, you have more leverage. If it’s a down market, you don’t.
  • If you need more information before stating or confirming a range, like information on benefits, it is entirely acceptable to ask for it before you confirm your requirement.
  • Decide what you will and won’t accept based on the information you have about the opportunity. Then stick to your guns, barring a complete change in job spec. State a salary expectation only within a range of which you would absolutely accept if it was the right opportunity.

Take these steps and you will make sure you’re not rejected because of salary expectations.

P.S. If you’re working with a recruiter, let them handle this for you. They will coach you on how to hand off this discussion to them. But also, be just as frank with your recruiter about what you would and wouldn’t accept.