“What are your salary or hourly rate expectation?” It’s one of the most dreaded interview questions and you can’t avoid it, even if you would like to. Salary expectations is one of the most straightforward things employers ask during a job interview, and it can be stressful to talk about money.

There are a number of ways to answer interview questions about salaries, and it’s important to determine and practice how you’re going to answer. If you do research on average compensation for both the role and your experience level, you can have productive and informative conversations about pay with your potential employers.

Keep reading to learn how to properly research compensation and how to answer the dreaded question with examples.

It’s important to be prepared with backed up research on your salary requirements. If you do your research correctly, you will have a better chance of landing the job, with the desired paycheck you were hoping for.

Lucky for you it’s easier than ever to find average salaries for just about any position. Here are a few things to remember when doing your homework.

  1. Use one of the many websites that offer salary averages and estimates. Sites like Glassdoor.com, Salary.com, Payscale.com, and Indeed.com all have reliable salary data.
  2. Always consider geographic location. Jobs in Cleveland may be different than those in New York City.
  3. Remember to factor in experience level, education background, and specializations or unique skills other applicants in the field may not have.

Take time when you do your research, so you can then go to your interview prepared and confident about your salary expectations.

Tips for answering interview questions

1. Focus on your target price. Most employers want to hear specific numbers. Negotiators who focus on their target price make more aggressive first offers and ultimately reach more profitable agreements than those who focus on the minimum amount they’d be satisfied with.

Tip: A good rule of thumb is to keep the lower end of your range at least 10% above your current salary, or the number you determine is a reasonable salary for the position. Be sure that the bottom of the range is the lowest amount you’re willing to accept.

Example: “I am seeking a position that pays between $80,000 – $100,000.”

2. Highlight your skills. Before mentioning any numbers, remind the interviewer why he or she should offer you a salary in the first place.

Tip: This will demonstrate that you will be of value and a good fit for the position.

Example: “Based on my 15 years of experience in this field, I would expect a salary in the range of $70,000 to $80,000.”

3. Deflect the question. If you are early in the hiring process such as a phone screen, you may want to consider deflecting the question for later in the conversation or waiting for the in-person interview.

Tip: It’s a good idea to still be prepared with well-researched numbers in mind.

Example: “Before I answer, I’d like to ask a few more questions to get a better idea of what the position entails. That way, I can provide more realistic expectations.”

4. Consider your negotiation options. Salary is not the only thing you should consider when interviewing for a new job. Always consider the benefits/perks of the job that would be valuable to you.

Tip: If an employer can’t offer you your ideal salary, they could be willing to offer you more vacation time, personal days, bonuses, or stock options.

Example: “I am seeking a position that pays between $65,000 and $70,000 annually, but I am open to negotiate salary depending on benefits, bonuses, equity, stock options, and other opportunities.”

Answering “What are your salary expectations” the wrong way can cost you a job offer. And not preparing ahead of time can put you in a situation where you are accepting a job at a less-than-desirable salary. Following this list of tips will help you rock your next interview and land a job offer successfully with the right salary.