This is a question that many people hope will not pop.
But if the employer was straight forward and transparent from the start about their budget for the position; this question would not feel uncomfortable for many. Also, what’s the point of going through many interviews and later discover that the proposed salary is way below expectations? Yet, I don’t see that this will stop from happening soon because some employers think that it’s better for the salary expectation to come from the candidate first to see if they can or can’t match. (Many don’t have a salary scale or are not up-to-date with market trends).
So, if this question comes to you there are many strategies you can use:
– If you have not done your research prior to the question, you can say that you don’t have an answer now and that you will answer in 24 hours.
– If you have done your research, you can mention that you have done so and either give a straight number or a bracket range with the minimum being what you’d accept.
In both above cases, you can back your answer with facts, put your skills and talent upfront, and explain future benefits. (Think of it like a sales pitch)
– If you don’t want to give a number in any way you can say that you know that they compensate fairly and that you trust that they will give an appropriate compensation for the role. This approach is a bit passive and let’s one think that you’ll either take whatever they will offer.
Here you can still negotiate but the margin will be small.
What are the risks though?
If you know yourself you either get what you asked for or open the floor for negotiation from a desirable number at least whereas if you let things go you may find yourself trying to add a few dollars to an undesirable number and be demotivated or not! It’s up to you!