can I ask about salary range before accepting an interview?

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A reader writes:

I have held the same position since graduation. I did not have to interview for this position because I came in as a temp through a friend’s mother who was a manager in our department. I am looking to move on. However, I am only interested in leaving if I am getting more money than I currently make at this position.

I work from 9 to 5 which means that to interview, I will have to take time off from my present position. We are losing staff and so I do not want to inconvenience my office by taking time away to interview for a position if it is not in the league of what I want, salary-wise. I was contacted about a position I applied for and am supposed to contact the manager to set up an interview. Is it rude to ask about the salary range before an interview is even set up? If it is less than what I make now, I would not be interested and I do not want to take time away just to be told that the range is less than what I am looking for and have wasted our time and inconvenieced our office for nothing.

Is it so wrong to want to know what kind of salary you could be looking at? Not specifics, of course. but people work for paychecks. Why must we pretend it’s not a determining factor? We’re not talking about interviewing for a six-figure position here. These are entry-level jobs, not careers.

This is an infuriating and nonsensical convention, isn’t it?

Of course you should be able to ask about salary before committing your time or theirs to talking further. But for some inexplicable reason, the convention is typically not to raise the topic until they do, or at least until you’re further along in the process. That doesn’t mean that you can’t do it … but while some employers will be completely fine with it, others will be a little weird about it, because you’re taking the timeline for raising it out of their hands (god forbid!) and they see themselves as the ones controlling the process. So it depends on how much you’re willing to risk putting them off. Not that they should be put off by it, but they still might be. (This is especially true at more junior level positions, which this probably is if this is your second post-graduation job.)

So you have three choices:

1. Decide that you’re willing to risk putting them off because it’s important enough to you to know up-front. In this case, you’d say something like this:  “I hope you don’t mind me asking at this stage, but because it’s difficult for me to take time off work to interview, is it possible to give me a sense of the salary range so that we can make sure we’re in the same ballpark before we move forward?

Of course, if you’re going to bring the topic up, you need to be willing to share what you’re looking for (just as I’d argue that employers who raise the topic should be willing to share the salary range they’re planning on, even though they often won’t). So if they respond with, “What kind of range are you looking for?” then you’d need to be ready to answer that.

2. Option #2 is to decide that you’re not willing to risk putting them off and that you’ll invest the time in finding out more about the employer and the job, even though there’s a chance that you’ll be too far apart on salary. After all, if the salary ends up not being right, you still might have made useful contacts and could be considered for other jobs there in the future.

3. A third path is to do your own research on what similar positions in your industry and geographic area typically pay, and simply assume that they’re going to be in that range. (You’ve hopefully done this type of research already and are basing your expectations on it anyway, right?)

And actually, there’s a fourth option, which is to combine #1 and #2 — meaning don’t ask now, but if it starts to look like there are going to be multiple steps to their hiring process, you could ask then (saying something like what I recommended in this post).

And here’s to some mythical day in the future where we’ll all end the silly coyness around salary.

{ 63 comments… read them below }

  1. Long Time Admin

    It’s very nice of you to care about inconveniencing your office, but that’s something you need to get over. During your job search, your number one responsibility is to yourself. Your employer, as nice they might be, would let you go in a heartbeat if it benefitted them.

    I think it’s stupid of interviewers to keep the salary range a big secret from job seekers. AAM is right, it’s nothing but a big old power play. I would ask anyway, pretty much as she suggested above. And do have the range you’re looking for in mind (at least 10% above what you’re making now, since a bigger salary is the reason you want to make a move). It will “put off” some employers, but you don’t want to work for peanuts if you can get cashews somewhere else.

    Good luck!

    1. Phideaux

      I agree that the salary issue should be upfront and open. It can be a huge waste of time, for either side of the hiring process, if that isn’t known ahead of time. My company has set pay ranges for positions and it is what it is and it’s something that we try to make known early in the process. We let them know the range, and state they people typically start at the lower end of the range, the exact number depends on experience, etc, and work their way up from there.
      The problem with this is I’ve often found, people only hear the top number of the range and nothing else, or hear everything else and assume that they can make the top end right off the bat. I’ve had more than a few people a little disappointed that they are being offered 20-25% less than the salary they thought they were going to get.

      1. Mike C.

        Maybe your company should determine a rubric based on skills and experience as to where the candidate will actually fit. Say meeting the minimum requirements nets you the minimum salary, extra years are worth x per year, and additional certs/education/skills are worth y. That way a candidate can better judge where they fit.

        Having such a wide range and then going, “SURPRISE!!!” isn’t very helpful.

    2. Marie

      I totally agree with Long Time Admin – if you’re a job-seeker, then it’s crucial to look after your own best interests.

  2. Randy Z

    “This is an infuriating and nonsensical convention, isn’t it?”

    Here! Here!

    How about if a candidate puts a salary requirement on a resume in the form of “Top Market Value + 25%” and say nothing about it in the interview – because they should bring it up. If they don’t that’s my first question. I think it’s quite reasonable to expect that any company should respect and encourage my interest in making a salary that makes me happy and gives me the desire for a long-term commitment.

    Furthermore I’d ask your opinion about the inevitable corporate position of ‘this is what we pay for this starting position and we’d evaluate your performance in 6/12 months’ to which I’d want to say “If you find my performance good enough to keep me I’d want you to meet my salary requirement.”

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Top market value plus 25% is going to be unrealistic for the majority of candidates (particularly candidates early in their career). Even top market value on its own is going to be unrealistic for the majority of candidates. Most people, by definition, fall somewhere in “mid-market” value.

      On the question of whether you can negotiate a definite raise in 6-12 months, again it depends on the strength of your candidacy. If you’re a star in your field, you can negotiate for all kinds of things. If you’re average (which, again, by definition most people are), it’s harder to do.

      1. Randy Z

        Ok, fair, what do you think about “Salary Requirement: Market Value + 10%”?

        Point being to avoid the fixed value without knowing the details of the position and stating upfront that you assess yourself as far above average (after all, what company seeks to hire average people…if you’re hired I would have to assume it’s because you’re in the top 5-10% of whatever measure they say).

        Re: Negotiating a raise in 6-12… it’s not a raise, it’s a correction to the required salary after the provisional trial period! If you have a requirement, and you perform well enough for them to want to keep you, what is their motive to freely give you that salary?

        As for most people being average, yes, you’re right, but what’s also true is that most highly competent people underestimate their value so they need a fair means to protect their interests against unfair assessments of performance… “you did very well but we were expecting more… 3% cost of living wage”. Anyone reading and being able to effectively apply this blog is very likely not average. I get average applications weekly… they have 5th grade grammar and even occasionally include “u” for your and an emoticon.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Market Value + 10%: Again, can you demonstrate that you’re 10% better than the average candidate out there? Market value is what these jobs pay. If you’re asking for more, you need to really be able to demonstrate that you’re better than most people. (And “be able to demonstrate it” is a key component there; you might think you’re better, but if you can’t show that, don’t expect them to just take your word for it.) Most people are going to get market value. Some will get less. A few will get more. You need to have a compelling argument to be in that last group; just saying you want it isn’t good enough.

          “after all, what company seeks to hire average people…if you’re hired I would have to assume it’s because you’re in the top 5-10% of whatever measure they say)”

          Right, but they’re giving all the other candidates zero dollars. They plan to give the person they hire market value — i.e., more than zero dollars.

          “Re: Negotiating a raise in 6-12… it’s not a raise, it’s a correction to the required salary after the provisional trial period! If you have a requirement, and you perform well enough for them to want to keep you, what is their motive to freely give you that salary?”

          Your outstanding performance, which will make a good company not want to lose you. If you haven’t performed exceptionally, it’s understandable that they won’t want to increase your salary. (And if you’re really exceptional and they won’t reward you for, you should be exceptional enough that you can go somewhere else without too much trouble.)

          1. Jamie

            I don’t understand Market + *%, because to me “market value” generally has a range.

            Unless you are using market value to mean one number, or is the percentile where you fall in the range itself?

            For example – if a job has a market range from 80k-95k depending on company and qualifications I would assume those at the top of their field would be near the top end, most would fall in the middle, and lesser qualified or smaller companies would be in the lowest range.

            Of course people work outside of market all the time, some get lucky and are overpaid and some are slogging it out until they can rectify the situation.

            But asking for market plus anything doesn’t make sense to me – if you’re using the range of market value which is what is commonly accepted.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              Yeah, that’s the other problem with this. It’s an odd formulation and would raise more questions than it answers … but the one thing it would answer definitively for me is “this candidate is full of himself,” because I’ve never seen a top performer be so aggressive up-front about salary. They’re typically likely to let their track records speak for itself, and they’re willing to walk away from an offer if it isn’t right.

              (Randy, I’m not saying YOU are full of yourself! Just that this is another reason why this wouldn’t be effective.)

  3. Jamie

    This is my biggest pet peeve with the whole hiring process.

    If’ I’m shopping for a new car I wouldn’t waste the time of the Mercedes salesman – because I know that’s not going to happen. I’m going to haggle on a new Mustang. Why should it be any different when a company is shopping for a new employee?

    There is a range – there is ALWAYS a range – just state it up front and then you don’t risk wasting the time of really great candidates you can’t afford. Then let the fun begin of determining of where your viable candidates fall in your range.

    It would save time on the employers part as much as the job seekers – so the secrecy flies in the face of common sense. Why would you want to waste time interviewing people who are going to say “thanks, but no thanks” when you finally do toss out the number?

    Reminds me of a friend of mine who, while house hunting, would look at fabulous houses WAY outside her price range “just for fun.” All it did was make everything she could afford seem shabbier and sub-par – as nice as they were.

    This is one of the most stupid practices out there and I wish companies would just knock off the game playing.

    1. ej

      In my experience, there may not be a range. One posting stated a range but only offered the entry level, saying it was non-negotiable. Several are posting a flat salary with no range listed. Depends on the field.

  4. Heather

    I just lost this battle with my HR person. I wanted to advertise the salary (since it’s totally set) and had to ask for salary requirements instead (which I like to do even less, since everyone waffles around them when asked). I’m going to be upfront about it during phone interviews so I don’t continue to waste my and their time. I really think everyone loses out when you either have an exact salary or range in mind and don’t advertise that. I say ask, but it does matter if you get someone like me or someone like my HR person in terms of how they will react.

    1. Jamie

      Just out of curiosity, what was your HR person’s logic for not listing the salary? I’ve always wondered what the thought process is behind that.

      1. Anon

        I work in a really competitive industry. If we advertise the wage or wage range, our main competitor will advertise and/or offer $.25 more. We don’t want to get into a pricing war or have our top people jumping ship because they think they might get an extra .25 (usually when they leave they come back because we offer a lot of other “perks” that aren’t taken into consideration when they make the move). We also see a lot more quality candidates when we don’t advertise the salary. If we are really interested in them, we can negotiate in other ways that aren’t taken into consideration like flexible work weeks or working from home. We have a great culture and basically don’t want to be dismissed out of hand just becaue we offer a “lower” salary. Most people don’t think about our health insurance, PTO, retirement, etc which are better than the packages offered by the competition. I would rather walk a candidate through the total compensation package then have them make a decision on a number. Also, if I meet with them I can give them the exact amount I would offer them rather then the range. No one thinks they deserve less then the top end of the range so posting the range only makes people unhappy. I also like to explain our compensation strategy and what it would look like in the future if they chose to work here.

        1. anon-2

          “We don’t want to get into a pricing war or have our top people jumping ship because they think they might get an extra .25″

          Most “top people” won’t jump ship over the extra 25 cents. Most employers who have “top people” take care of their “top people” so they won’t leave over the 25 cents.

          Most “top people” are smart enough to weigh perks, benefits, and a general working comfort zone against dollars and cents.

          Might it be that you’re afraid to list a “set salary” because there may be others already doing that same job at your firm for less money, and you don’t want them to find out that they’re underpaid?

        2. Jamie

          I appreciate you taking the time to reply to my question.

          It really does sound like a disingenuous practice to me, though. You stated you get more quality candidates when you don’t post salary – I do wonder how much time is wasted on both sides when those who wouldn’t have applied if you posted salary don’t buy the sales pitch to work for less?

          It sounds like these are entry level positions if .25 per hour is a factor – but if you’re afraid your top people will jump ship for what amounts to $10 per week before taxes for me that’s a red flag that there’s an issue in the compensation policies not just for new hires but also top performers.

          Also, it’s not true that everyone expects the top of the range. If I were looking and there was a range I wouldn’t necessarily think I should get the top end walking in the door – but I would gauge where I think I should fall based on how my qualifications line up with the requirements. And if I was lower or mid-range than at the 6 month review is a good time to discuss the path to the higher range – results required, additional training, etc.

          1. Mike C.

            Also, folks are confusing “expecting top of the range” and “starting at the top of the range when bargaining”. I hear, “oh if I tell them the range then ~everyone~ expects the top and they’re just not good enough for 9.75/hour, so entitled, etc” so often. It’s simply not a good excuse to keep this information hidden.

            Oh no, your candidate wants to be paid as much as possible, what an entitled person! No, it’s called, “everyone is out for themselves and having candidates ask for as much money as they can is called being an adult”. Hiring managers and other HR folks need to get over it, because if they can’t handle the salary issue, they need to get out of the business.

          2. Natalie

            And if the top of the range is the problem, just provide the bottom of the range. I can only consider positions that pay at least $X, just to pay my bills, eat, and so forth, so knowing the absolute lowest amount I’ll be paid is going to help me weed out jobs that I just plain can’t afford to take.

        3. Ask a Manager Post author

          I do think there’s something to the “if a rock star walked in my door, I’d pay more, so I don’t want them to self-select out after seeing a salary that applies to 95% of of the candidate pool but not to them.” That does make it trickier.

          1. I'm the rock star

            Oh good grief, not the “rock star” thing again. I once asked a manager here why he wanted a “rock star”. He was looking for an RS because he couldn’t articulate the actual skills needed — he had no idea what an api is. I told him, well, it sounds to me like you are looking for a drug addled, self-absorbed, single skilled, groupie-chaser.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              Semantics. That particular manager sucked, but the term is short-hand for “exceptional high-performer.” Someone who achieves at an unusual rate.

      2. Heather

        Basically the excuse was that we had more power and we would be losing it if we posted it. Maybe if this was a position where we would negotiate that might be true, but it’s not.

        1. Mike C.

          What a great way to make sure employees don’t stay for very long.

          Ask your boss if the few hundred dollars you might save using asymmetrical negotiating tactics is worth having a new employee that feels cheated and jumps ship for a slightly better offer 6-12 months down the road.

          If you approach people with honesty and transparency you will receive it back in kind. The fact that your HR manager wants power over others is the sign of a rather unhealthy situation.

          1. Heather

            It’s the norm for the industry I work in, but I don’t like it. And there are so few jobs in this that no one is going to jump ship.

  5. Anonymous

    I wouldn’t consider it a waste of time either for you or for them. It’s part of their job to interview folks, so even though you end up being too far off money-wise, no harm no foul. And as for you, you get some valuable practice interviewing, which may well pay off down the road when the right job comes along.

    1. Jamie

      There is a sub-set of people for whom that’s probably true – but for many people time is an issue (time off work if currently employed, sitter arrangements for parents of small kids, etc.)

      For non-entry level jobs interviewing is takes a lot of time not just for the job seeker but for management within the company. Many qualified people are well past the point where we need to go on interviews for practice.

      I know this is a common practice – it seems as if it’s atypical to post salary information. The down side of this for companies is that you will narrow your candidate pool significantly if you refuse to give the ballpark before people arrange an interview.

      If I was unemployed would I take a shot on a job that seemed like it could be a good fit even without salary info? Absolutely. If I’m looking, but currently employed, would I burn some PTO with no indication of salary. Never.

      I just don’t think it’s a good idea to possibly rule out people who are in a position to be selective.

    2. SME

      I disagree with this as well. Ten years ago, I might not have, but anymore even the initial interview experience is likely to be multiple people, multiple hours, and pretty intense grilling. I’m absolutely not interested in taking half a day off work and going through that in-depth process for something that is thousands of dollars below what I can live on.

  6. NicoleW

    Oh, how I wish salaries were more clear. Maybe I’m just a realist, but I would never expect to make top of the range, if one was listed. With lengthy online applications and half-day interviews, there is a lot of time wasted when salary expectations aren’t offered. Most recently I interviewed at a company that had a 2.5 hour first interview and a 2.25 hour second interview. I’d rather not waste that kind of time if I know the salary is not in my range. I have recently NOT applied for a number of positions because I did a little research and guessed that they would not be close enough to my desired salary.

    While salary research is a good idea, I think it’s not as helpful in certain industries. I have visited glassdoor, USAJobs and other sites, and came up with a salary that ranges over $100k between high and low end for the same title. And unless the company you’re looking at is mentioned specifically on glassdoor, you won’t know if you’re looking at a company that notoriously pays under market value.

    I work for a company that makes my skin crawl with its job listings. Every one says “Competitive compensation and friendly atmosphere.” Yes, most people are friendly, if you ignore the CEO’s rants and how everyone is on eggshells afraid of said CEO. And yes, compensation is competitive, if you don’t care about money. Unless you are director level or above, everyone makes under $40k. It feels like they are deliberately misleading potential candidates to get the best people to apply. Hopefully people are savvy enough to get a sense of the culture in the interviews!

    I’m not sure how to get around an earlier poster’s concern regarding a higher-than-posted salary for the ideal candidate. Perhaps listing a ballpark starting number instead of a low to high range (Salary starts in the $40s, negotiable depending on experience.) And you could certainly talk up the extensive benefits next to the salary.

    1. Adam V

      I’m actually curious – do people make it to the end of your process then bail because the “competitive compensation” is anything but? You’d think that would be a sign to the HR department (“we get all these qualified candidates, they all interview great, but none of them actually seal the deal at the end… what’s going on?”).

      1. Natalie

        I wonder if the pattern isn’t clear given the high unemployment rate. Someone coming to the end of their UI is a lot more willing to settle than someone who has a job, so it might not be apparent that their losing good candidates because of their stupid practice.

        1. NicoleW

          I’m not sure how many people bail after the offer is made, as my department has not hired any FT people in the years I’ve been there. We’re a little more open with the part-time assistants we’ve been hiring. And for the field positions I hire, I am allowed to post those wages in the listing. It makes my job so much easier in that salary is not a surprise when I make hiring calls. I wish everyone else thought this way!

          The positions I referred to in my previous comment typically require 1 to 8 years experience. The lower end of that, we can get those unemployed recent grads. For people in the middle, I think Natalie might be on to something with the unemployment rate as well. The higher end, if it’s someone they really want, they will pony up something competitive enough, but then they’ll never get a raise again! Mwah-ha-ha!

    2. Jamie

      You’re right – salary calculators are so broad as to be of little use in many industries.

      I recently had to find market rate for a niche position so I went on the board and looked for positions which, while not identical, were similar and at the same level of skill and responsibility (education/experience, etc.). I kept to the same geographic area and when I had 20 I plugged everything into excel to get an average.

      That’s how I know how rare it is to find an ad with salary info – I swear for every one with a range there were ten with nothing but vague statements.

      It’s an imperfect science, but it did the trick.

      I do wish more people would use Glassdoor. That’s such a great idea and would be such a help – but I understand why people are reluctant to submit information.

  7. GeekChic

    I’ve been somewhat fortunate in that I have typically worked with companies that have fully open salary information (everyone knows everyone else’s salary or pay band). As a result, either the pay band or the salary range is part of the job advertisement.

    I tend to ignore job postings that don’t list salary or pay band because I don’t have time to play games.

  8. Long Time Admin

    Six people got laid off from my company yesterday. One of these days, it’s going to be me (we just don’t have enough work coming in). I dread trying to find another job, and I know I won’t find one for the money I’m getting here (the pay is great here). I’ve been unemployed in the past, and I know that I’ll do the same thing again – after 6 or 8 months, take any job I can find that pays more than unemployment. Good jobs are scarce and good jobs for administrative assistants are even more scarce. At least knowing the salary range ahead of time would be helpful, but almost every want ad and company web site I’ve seen says only “DOE” (depending on experience). I think that’s code for “just barely above minimum wage”.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Please start doing an aggressive job search now! You don’t need to take one if you’re unhappy with the pay, but getting the ball rolling in a serious way will protect you in case you do get laid off!

  9. Joey

    Don’t ask about salary right off the bat. You don’t want to give the impression that it’s just about salary for you. If it’s not volunteered (although it should be) wait until you have an opportunity to ask other questions about the job so it’s not the main topic. Show them that the whole package (ie comp/culture/job/company,etc) is what’s really important to you. Employers want to feel like you’re a complete match, not that they were just the high bidder.

    1. Mike C.

      It is all about the salary. Why do we continue this lie? We all work for a paycheck, don’t we?

      1. Jamie

        Thank you. Other things certainly matter – all things being equal – but if the numbers aren’t there it doesn’t matter how great the culture is.

        If we’re lucky we like our jobs and get some professional fulfillment – but most of us don’t go to work because there is no place else we’d rather be.

        I love my job, but guess how long that would last if the paychecks stopped?

    2. Anonymous

      It is ridiculous to pretend that salary is some sort of secondary concern to ‘culture’ and potential for mystical job fulfillment. Non-profits are the worst with this.
      None of us would be working for someone else if we had several million dollars and could afford not to.

      1. Joe

        I think that non-profits are clearly the exception, because you don’t work for a non-profit if salary is your primary concern. I work for a non-profit now, and I could probably be making 40-50% more money than I do right now (especially if I worked somewhere that gave bonuses), but I work here because I appreciate the environment and the cause more than I would like some extra money. That’s not to say that salary doesn’t matter (it does), but that it’s not the primary motivation for taking a job at a non-profit.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Agreed, as a career-long nonprofit worker myself! Almost by definition, salary isn’t your primary concern if you’re working for a nonprofit or you’d choose to earn more somewhere else. (At least with cause or service oriented nonprofits; groups like trade associations often pay competitively with the for-profit sector.)

  10. Joey

    Mike/Jaime,
    It’s rare that all things are equal. There are a ton of people who will sacrifice pay for things like a better work environment. And of course for others vice versa. Most companies have no desire to be the highest paid, just competitive. They want to sell you on all of the other desirables of their company. If those are not part of the equation for you they’d prefer to offer the job to someone who’ll get more value out of the job than you.

    1. Jamie

      I agree that there are other things that contribute to a good fit and job satisfaction besides salary and all of those need to be fleshed out before an offer is accepted.

      My point was that when a company doesn’t post it in the ad, or give a range in the very early stages it can be a time suck for both parties.

      If I’m currently making $X and the job is for $X – 5K *maybe* that’s something I would pursue if everything else was fabulous. If it’s $X – 25K it’s not even a conversation because I know what my bills are. That’s where the range comes in – I’m not suggesting that people put one definitive non-negotiable amount in the ad – just a ballpark so you cull the right candidates without wasting time.

      Maybe in some industries it’s a moot point because the ranges are more common knowledge and less variable – but in my field (IT) there are vastly different salaries being offered and titles means radically different things from one company to the next.

      You do bring up a point about other desirable aspects of a company – and that is crucial but so variable from person to person. For example – I can work flex time from home if I want to – I come into the office everyday because it’s my preference and so that’s a “perk” that’s completely wasted on me. I have insurance through my husband so those benefits from my employer are also irrelevant to me. For many people those would be huge perks and that would tip the scales toward a company.

      So while all perks/benefits are only valuable in as much as they are desired by the employee, salary is the one common denominator that matters to everyone and it’s the reason we work. That’s why I think tossing it out on the table early makes so much sense.

    2. Natalie

      “There are a ton of people who will sacrifice pay for things like a better work environment.”

      Sure, but everyone has a minimum amount they need to live. I would love flex time, but flex time doesn’t pay bills so I can’t consider it in place of money if the pay is too low. Giving some sense of the pay scale allows me to not waste time applying and interviewing for a job that I just plain can’t afford to take.

    3. Mike C.

      Yeah, you have a point here.

      However, I find that a workplace with great conditions, opportunities for advancement or just a general respect for employees tend to have better compensation packages than workplaces that treat their employee like replacement parts. It’s not always true, but I see them go hand in hand when the money is there.

  11. Joe

    I get emails periodically from people trying to recruit me for jobs. In the past, I’ve generally just deleted them, because I’m not looking for a job right now, I’m happy with the one I have. Recently, though, I became curious to see what I could earn in another position. I work for a non-profit (and have for several years), and I’d love to have some idea what salary my current skill set would translate to in the for-profit world. So I’ve started replying to these recruiters asking for salary information for the positions they’re sending me. So far, I’ve sent this to two recruiters, and neither one has even bothered to send me a reply.

  12. Smithy

    Oh I absolutely agree with Nicole – those ads which say ‘Competitive remuneration package’ – and you think “competitive with what, exactly?” (Like the expression ‘living wage’ – how long do they think you can live on it?)

    I’m temping, and I have a sort of chart (in my mind) when I compare assignments. You weigh up the job/work itself; the people you are working with; the journey to work/location — and the pay. (For a temp, there are unlikely to be any perks or other benefits.) As your previous contributor said, the other aspects of a job mean different things to different people, but the pay cheque is why we get up in the mornings. I will undertake a longer journey and more demanding job if the money is higher, and a local job for less pay. But I do expect to be told the rate so I can make that decision!

  13. Lisa

    Great answer to the salary question. It’s absolutely alright to ask the salary range to make sure you’re both in the same ballpark. And, might I also suggest this reader set up interviews before work (7:30am or 8am) or after, (5:30pm or 6pm). Most potential employers are happy to do so.

  14. Michael Rochelle

    I have always hated this practice because most people want to grow in terms of salary. A person currently making $50K is not going to be enthused about getting an offer after doing two or three interviews and finding out that the new company is only offering $36K for the same type of position. Even if you know what the pay range is in your area, that may have no bearing on where that company places the value for that postion salarywise.

    Despite all that–and I hate it just as much as the next person–the practice falls in line with the whole hiring process where–unless you’ve reached a mgmt level–you aren’t going to get red carpet service. The interviewee is expected to be early, but I’ve had early morning interviews where the interviewer didn’t even get to the office until 30 minutes or so AFTER my interview time. As interviewees, we take time out of our day to go to the company to interview and sometimes they won’t even bother to let you know that they went with another candidate, so you’re still waiting for a call that’s not going to come. And while they’re doing background and reference checks on you, the interviewee can’t meet his team members, see his desk or office and where he’ll be working, find out about the vibe in the office or office politics, etc. At one job, it wasn’t until after I was hired that I learned that I was the 7th person hired for that job in a matter of a few months and people in the office had taken a poll as to how long I would last. Yeah, the interview process is definitely not in favor of the interviewee.

    1. Jamie

      There isn’t red carpet service at the management level, either.

      The rudeness you’ve experienced in interviewing could (and does) happen at every level – I think it’s more indicative of the incompetence of the interviewer than of the position they are trying to fill.

    1. Joe

      (I’m going to reply here, rather than on your blog, since this is where the conversation I’ve been in is taking place.)

      I have to strongly disagree with you (almost, see next paragraph), and the reason why is actually in your own comment after the post. In response to another comment, you said, “Demanding salary requirements up front tells you you’d be working with a company that demands it hold all the power in the relationship.” Refusing to provide any salary information is the exact same problem. Yes, during the hiring process, you’re trying to sell yourself to the company, but they should be trying, at least somewhat, to sell themselves to you too. And while you don’t want to harp on it all the time, everyone involved knows that a big motivation for taking the job is the money. So refusing to provide even a general guideline (a range, for example, if they can’t give a specific number) is their way of telling you that their wants are more important than your needs. It’s about balance of power, and it’s one more way for them to tell you that they have all the power, and you have none.

      The one caveat is that I agree that the interview is not the place to ask about money. If you want to know that, you should be asking before you ever even schedule an interview. You’re not really saving yourself or the company much time if you wait until the interview to ask about it, since the interviews are the biggest time commitment in the hiring process.

  15. Anonymous

    I hope the charade we all play in regards to salary ends. It really is absurd. Companies should always list a RANGE for open positions. Why do we continue to waste everyone’s time for no reason?

    I went through 3 interviews and was on my 4th when I finally found out the salary for my current job. By the time they told me, I had invested an enormous amount of time and energy in getting the job and was willing to take it. Would I have gone through all that had I known in advance how low it was? Probably not. I’m planning to quit as soon as I hit the year mark.

  16. Jamie

    What about those candidates who are looking to relocate? I am currently looking at positions that are located about 700 miles away, so it makes it nearly impossible to apply for a job that does not have the salary listed. I have seen ranges from 25K-60K, so I cannot take the financial risk of traveling and ending up at the company that offers the 25K job.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      In a long-distance situation, I think you definitely ask before an in-person interview, and you cite the expense (yours or theirs, depending on who’s paying) as the reason.

  17. Anonymous

    I seldom apply to positions that do not giva a salary range. Sometimes I will if I know the company well. No sense in me taking a half day once a week to go on interviews blindly and get fired for all the time off. As a rule I do not apply to companies that ask for my salary requirements with my application.

  18. Drew

    One commenter summed it up. It’s a just a power play. It’s a game of poker. You don’t call someone on their hand until they ante up.

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