Hard to know how to answer that question when it’s asked of you. If it’s asked in an job ad, you can easily reply with an “It’s negotiable.” But when you’ve already applied and they write you or call you to specifically ask you that one question, you know they’re looking for a number or range in order to screen you in or out. What do you do? Really, there are only two sensible choices: you either don’t give a salary at all or you be completely honest about what you expect. Don’t lowball it, because you’re worth the price you set on yourself. Price yourself too low and you run the risk of telling them you’re not worth being paid the salary the job actually offers. But then being greedy can cause you as much trouble. So the answer, if you choose to reply with a number at all, is to be honest about what you would expect for a salary and accept that you may price yourself out of the job.
If you haven’t guessed, I managed to do that to myself today. Would have been an interesting job. I couldn’t figure out a way to actually say that it was completely negotiable (“I don’t have salary expectations” struck me as being too wishywashy when they’re point blank asking you what you’re expecting) so I said what I expected. And priced myself out of consideration. Thought I probably was going to — I had a feeling the job was going to pay less than what I quoted. Oh, well. Something to keep in mind in the future.