dumb interviewing convention #45: you will sin against God if you ask what a job pays

Here’s something I have a problem with: the idea that it’s somehow wrong for a candidate to ask about salary in a first interview.

This BS idea is all over the place:

Asking about salary and benefits in the first interview “always turns me off. I’m always disappointed when they ask this, especially in the first interview.” — Norma Beasant, founder of Talento Human Resources Consulting and an HR consultant at the University of Minnesota

If you ask about salary in the first interview, “it makes you look as though you’re applying for the job because of the money. That [can] seem too mercenary.” — Ray Brizendine, the director of a national executive recruiting firm

“Never ask about salary and benefits. Don’t ask any questions related to your needs.” — Louise Garver, executive coach

You, job seekers, are apparently all seeking jobs out of the kindness of your hearts, out of a desire to be industrious and assist companies in their pursuits. You are certainly not interested in what kind of compensation you will receive for your work.

This is ridiculous.

I absolutely agree that you don’t want initial conversations with an employer to be all about what they can do for you, putting all your focus on benefit details and so forth. You want the focus to be on what you will do together — the work you’ll be achieving. But to pretend that salary is some kind of minor side issue, something that is only appropriate to discuss at the end, only once you’ve determined everything else is right — come on.

Salary is one of the few factors that can trump everything else and make the rest of the discussion irrelevant — it doesn’t matter how interesting the work and how right your fit for it if the job pays 30% under market. It’s entirely reasonable to discuss it early on.

Penalizing job seekers for inquiring about something so central to why they’d take the job in the first place betrays a serious lack of common sense, as well as something disgustingly arrogant  — as if job seekers should simply be grateful to have been granted an audience with an employer and shouldn’t jeopardize that by anything so vulgar as acknowledging that they’ll be working for money.

{ 251 comments… read them below }

  1. the gold digger*

    My sister is a nurse practitioner. She was dumbfounded when she learned that in the corporate world, salary is discussed at the end.

    “Why on earth,” she asked, “would you ever apply for a job when you don’t even know what it pays?”

    I think she is right.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Me too. I do have things to offer, but unless this is a volunteer position, I’m not interested in it if it pays nothing. And I do have to have a certain amount to live on, because there is no other income in my household. :(

      In the words of the Joker, “If you’re good at something, never do it for free.”

    2. Victoria HR*

      Well theoretically the salary is outlined in the job description that the applicant already has prior to the interview. I personally wouldn’t even apply for a position unless I was aware of what the starting salary was.

      1. meh*

        Most corporations have banded salary levels for positions. The pay could be in a range from $40K to $140K as listed on the application.

        1. the gold digger*

          I mean, it has never been in the job description. Except for my current job, where they told me over the phone interview (I think because they knew it was low and didn’t want to bother to interview me if there was no chance I would take it), I have found out the salary when I got the offer.

      2. N.*

        Hmm. Perhaps you and I are in different industries, but if I skipped applying for beyond entry level jobs that did not clearly state a salary range, I would cut out about 3/4 of my prospective employers. Around here that does mean 3 out of 4 jobs.

        -They have their little games, but fortunately so do I…

      3. Vicki*

        I rarely have seen salary in the job description. Occasionally there will be a range given. Sometimes they say “Market” or “DOE (Depends on Experience).

        Often they say nothing at all.

        (Silicon Valley Tech sector)

  2. Jennie*

    Thank. You. I couldn’t agree more. It’s frustrating to me that people are nervous to ask how much a position pays or what the benefits look like. In my opinion, those are two of the most important things. Will I be able to continue living the life I have and pay my bills and do I have the option to have decent medical coverage? Unfortunately, this mindset of waiting until the end will continue on because there are people in hiring positions who DO find it offensive and scare people from thinking it’s ok to ask.

    1. BeenThere*

      Yes Yes Yes. Thank You! This annoys me so much, you have to go through all this effort only to find out the salary is well below expectations, the PTO is non-existant or some other crazy thing you haven’t thought of which is normally included but not legally required.

      Salary and Benefits are key decision factors, I don’t care if I get to ride a unicorn to work and have multicoloured hair if you don’t remunerate me appropriately.

      1. Kristoff*

        I think I would consider getting to ride a unicorn to work part of the overall compensation package.

  3. Anonymous*

    It just doesn’t make sense to apply for a job without knowing what the pay range is at the very least.

  4. Coelura*

    Just recently I was chewed out by my manager for discussing a pay range with a contractor that had been working for me for six months. I had an open position & the contractor wanted to apply for it – but needed to know if there was a point. Heaven forbid that I be upfront with her about the salary expectations & tell her I hoped she would apply. I was informed that she should want the job so badly that money wouldn’t be that big of a deal & I should try to “sell” her on the job by telling her I wanted her to apply! ARGH!!! Fortunately, I know better!

  5. ChristineH*

    That’s why I like it when an employer discloses upfront–either in the job posting or in the interview–what the salary and benefits are, even if in general terms.

    1. ChristineH*

      Plus, it helps when a job posting is for a position that doesn’t neatly fall into a traditional occupational category, thus making it hard to research the market value of said position.

      1. EM*

        This. I’m a scientist with specialized skills working in a specialized field. I’ve never seen a job description remotely matching what I do on those big salary guessing sites.

    2. COT*

      Yes–I really wish all job postings would include a salary range. I work in social services, so some jobs at the very low end don’t even pay a livable wage. It’s a waste of my time and yours if I apply for a job I’m never going to take. Sure, I might take a slightly below-market salary for the right workplace and benefits (that’s what I’m doing now) but even the world’s greatest interview will not persuade me to accept a 70% pay cut.

      To some extent, salary can also suggest the level of experience you’re seeking, sometimes more than the job description and qualifications do. Again, if that helps me realize that I’m vastly underqualified, we’ve both saved time because I know not to apply.

    3. clobbered*

      Yeah, but then there’s also the reverse problem. I was hiring recently for a position that for various reasons pays below market value, though for the right candidate there would be other aspects of the job that would compensate for that. So, AaM-trained that I am, I brought it up in the first screening call – no asking them what they make or what they want, just “so you know, this is what we can pay – do you want to move forward?”. (For reasons specific to the industry we could not put this in the ad).

      Every single applicant immediately fell back on “of course I am not interested in this just for the money!”. This can’t be statistically true. I am sure some would not accept the position because of the money, but not a single one of them said “oh you know what, that is way below what I can accept, have a nice day”.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Interesting. Were a lot of them unemployed? That could explain it if so. Otherwise, I’ll blame it on people being brainwashed into thinking they’re supposed to say that. Grrr.

        1. Sascha*

          We have the exact same thing going on in my department. I think there are two reasons for it – one, the unemployed people are really okay and need a job, so they are willing to take the salary. Two, those that aren’t willing to take the salary but say it’s no problem will try to negotiate later, even though we said up front that we can’t. They try to negotiate at the offer stage, and we’ve had many decline after offers were made when we reiterated that salary can’t be negotiated.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Unemployed or not, I said no way to something where the salary was their high and my low, and also had no health insurance. It would have involved a much longer commute (which would eat into the low salary), and no insurance is a deal breaker for me. I need health coverage.

          FYI, the job wasn’t offered; this was in the initial interview. I did make sure to thank the interviewer for disclosing these things. She said I interview very well, so once we got the crap out of the way, I think we both learned something. :)

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Out of curiosity, what’s the thought process there when you’re unemployed? While it’s not ideal, isn’t it better than the alternative (presumably no income/insurance), and you can continue to search?

            I realize this might be prying, so feel free to ignore – it’s just something I’m curious to understand.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Right now I get a low-income thing at my doctor’s office where for $10 I can get in no matter what it is. It only covers office visits, but there’s a lot the doctor can do in the office. If I take a job that pays enough for me to live on, I lose that completely. I am 47 years old and forever alone, and I do NOT want to go without healthcare. There is nothing else that will cover me while I’m working if work does not.

              If the job had healthcare, I might have taken it if it were offered. But they might not have offered it to me anyway.

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  Hopefully the forever alone part won’t be forever…. :(

                  If I had a husband and were on his insurance, I would have taken something crappy immediately while I looked. I could have taken the job I posted about below, with the mandatory retirement pay suck. Plus there would be someone else to help with the bills.

              1. khilde*

                This comment may be further out of line, but I seriously did a double, triple take when you said you’re 47!! I had to go to your blog to look at your picture again. That is so not the impression that I’ve had of you all this time. I thought you were much, much younger. Like your late 20s.

                That being said, I am not known for being a spot-on judge of people’s ages…..but I truly thought you were vastly younger than 47. I’m not sure if I should have commented on this, but I couldn’t help myself :)

                1. khilde*

                  After I posted this I thought maybe I shouldn’t have. But I’m glad I’m not alone in my thinking on that!! haha

            2. Victoria HR*

              IMO it would feel morally wrong to accept a position just to have a job, while I continued looking for something better. When I take a job, it’s with the assumption that I will be there for at least two years minimum (in my own mind, anyway). The one time I left a job inside of a year, I felt terrible.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I think not offering employees health care is so outside the norms of what’s appropriate compensation (in the U.S., given our health care set-up) that employers who don’t offer it can’t expect long-term workers (same with most minimum wage jobs, which also expect high turnover).

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  Yeah, especially when you have your office in a high-end office park, and it’s full of nice furniture to impress clients, and you even have a TV room for them. And your employees don’t have health coverage?! INCONCEIVABLE!

                  *pushes goblet with iocane powder a bit closer to employer*

                2. Kelly O*

                  Or when it’s prohibitively expensive. Right now we’re without, because mine was so much I would not be able to have insurance and pay daycare. Seriously. It went up again, and we got a letter from the CEO basically blaming “Obamacare” on why our premiums are going through the roof and suggesting if more people got insurance we could get a lower rate.

                  And yeah, scuttlebutt says in a year they’ll do away with it entirely and just pay the penalty.

                3. N.*

                  Iocaine, tee – hee! Fortunately for Buttercup the P/V Revenge provided excellent health coverage, or she may never have jumped out Prince Humperdinck’ss window to ride off with a poor farmboy like Westley…

            3. Lisa S.*

              I might ask you the same question about thought process here. What’s wrong with having the expectation that you’ll get a job that will pay you what you’re worth? Have you ever been out of work, without unemployment and one step away from living in your car? If not, consider yourself blessed. Nobody can live on $14/hr. Plenty of people (millions, actually) take jobs for which they are overqualified and grossly underpaid. Many employers are taking advantage of the unemployment crisis by offering low pay – all in the name of maintaing profit margins. So if you want to question thought processes, why not start with asking why employers aren’t doing anything to put people back to work. You can be degreed, speak several languages, have solid skills/experience – and still be among the long-term unemployed. Any income is certainly better than no income. But only for the short term. In most cases, time is better spent networking and continuing the quest to find a decent job. Key word: decent.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                When you’ve been unemployed for a while, and you’re choosing between no pay and some pay, some is often better than the alternative, even if it’s not ideal, unless you have the ability to support yourself without income in the long-term. It’s also often helpful to have something on your resume that’s recent. At some point, it’s not about expecting a job to pay you what you’re worth; it’s about recognizing that the reality of the crappy job market means that might not happen soon and making good decisions for yourself within that context.

                Employers aren’t responsible for putting people back to work. They have a responsibility to act in their own best interests (or they might end up not being able to employ anyone).

                1. Lisa S.*

                  I would agree that it’s better to have something recent on your resume – crappy job or otherwise. But I maintain that employers have a responsibility to do something about the unemployment crisis in lieu of hand-wringing and serving their own interests. Start hiring on the basis of ability and/or potential to do the job instead of solely on the basis of a candidate matching up perfectly with the job description. Streamline the hiring process. Ditch the ” two for one ” mentality in which two jobs are combined into one ( with all the responsibilities of both jobs), yet the pay is that of the junior job of the two combined. Stop keeping salaries a secret- this (a salary range, at the very least) is something that should be discussed upon initial
                  meeting with an applicant. What some companies get away with in terms of hiring processes is nothing short of outrageous. I read your posts and like your point of view. But I feel that the situation in this country necessitates bold action from employers to help turn it around. The onus to turn this situation around is on companies, not hapless job seekers.

                2. Jamie*

                  But I maintain that employers have a responsibility to do something about the unemployment crisis in lieu of hand-wringing and serving their own interests.

                  Speaking for the for-profit world that will never happen, and imo, should never happen. Businesses exist to serve their own interests. Period. A well run business also provides employment which is good for individuals and the local community – but it’s not a charity and people will always be hired to add value to a company and not for some altruistic reason.

                  Ditch the ” two for one ” mentality in which two jobs are combined into one ( with all the responsibilities of both jobs), yet the pay is that of the junior job of the two combined.

                  The above caught my attention when I read it this morning and I thought about this on the way in because this comes up a lot. It comes up here, and for me, it comes up all. the. time. IRL because my position in other circumstances would be done by three separate people. There isn’t an intuitive fit between the different parts of my job – so I do feel kind of uniquely qualified to address this gross misconception.

                  I do not – never have/never will – do the job of three people.

                  I have IT, Cost Accounting, and QC under my banner. This is not an off the rack position – it was something that I, with my employer, custom made for me over the last few years. If I got hit by a bus tomorrow it’s possible they would have to fill my position with more than one person just because it would take not just a purple squirrel, but a purple penguin to hit all my weird skill scatter.

                  While this may make me valuable to my company, because my odd little construct was a natural outgrowth of our business needs – it actually makes me less valuable to others in a way. Because when I go to interview for Chocolate Teapot, Inc. Alison could tell me she’s got accounting and QC covered and is only interested in part of what I can do. I’m worth far less to Alison than I am to my current employer.

                  But that aside, people say to me all the time about doing the work of three people and I continually correct them. If you had me (IT), a separate Cost Accountant, and a Director of QC then those other positions will be far involved and in depth than what they currently are now. I get the big stuff done and I oversee teams of people to make sure everything stays on track…but I do not put in 120 hours a week so each part of my job gets a solid 40. I do as much as I’m able to do – but if suddenly the business changed and QC demands increase then we need to bring someone in here.

                  If you are juggling three balls your hands are in contact with each ball less than if you were holding one ball.

                  If having other people in those slots would serve a business need we’d be hiring for them. It wouldn’t and we aren’t.

                  Sometimes people are asked to pinch hit for a departing co-worker and truly do have an unsustainable (long term) increased workload for a time. These people should be rewarded with a bonus, a thank you, and some time off once management hires a replacement for the co-worker (which should be done without unnecessary delays.)

                  But some positions are weird amalgams of what would have formerly been multiple positions. If that works for both sides the employer has no obligation to hire additional people just because they can.

                  IMO an employer has an obligation to run their business as efficiently as possible while not burdening employees with unreasonable work loads. I do agree with that – but that doesn’t mean they should hire people just as a charitable gesture.

                  I know this was long – but it’s something that I’ve been thinking about because it really does come up a lot – the two/three for one job mentality and while I’m sure there are crazy rare circumstances where it’s true – it doesn’t mean you’re putting in double the hours or doing double the work. It means they’ve restructured a couple of positions in a way that makes sense for the business and are willing to live with the fact that neither facet will get a full 40 each week.

                  Inefficiently run businesses end up laying people off. They close. Businesses have to keep labor costs in line or no one will have a job.

                3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  “If having other people in those slots would serve a business need we’d be hiring for them. It wouldn’t and we aren’t. … some positions are weird amalgams of what would have formerly been multiple positions. If that works for both sides the employer has no obligation to hire additional people just because they can.”


                4. Lisa S.*

                  Alison, Jamie –
                  You both bring up good points. For the record, I don’t believe companies should hire for charitable reasons. But hiring practices need to change as many candidates are summarily excluded from consideration for reasons that don’t make sense. Tackling the unemployment crisis isn’t the sole responsibility of policymakers. Employers need to get involved. Extreme circumstances (such as we’re in now) call for different solutions. BTW – I am employed, but acutely aware that the difficulties job-seekers face in this stagnant economy are much greater than ever before. Over & out.

                5. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  But the thing is, employers aren’t obligated to be fair and consider everyone. They do what makes sense for their business interests, and if they’re able to find candidates they want with whatever requirements they currently use, there’s no incentive for them to widen the pool of candidates they talk to.

                6. N.*

                  “IMO an employer has an obligation to run their business as efficiently as possible while not burdening employees with unreasonable work loads. I do agree with that –but that doesn’t mean they should hire people just as a charitable gesture.”

                  Refering back to the topic at hand, what is good for the goose is good for the gander, and yet as a self-governing agent with the same obligation to guard my own best interests, there exists the delusion that the job should get done out of the kindness of our hearts.

                  Too often the worker is demonized, and imbued with the idea that asking about compensation is too “mercenary,” while attempting in the same breath to quell the rampant symptoms of “imposter syndrome.”

                  You want my heart and soul, you had better pay me for it, I ain’t a charitable enterprise either. Only my husband and cat ride free.

                  That said, I never do it for the money alone. I guess I am (by my own account) deluded too… A special ‘thank you’ to everyone who was able to join us for the Ayn Rand Philosophy hour :D

                7. Jamie*

                  @N – absolutely.

                  If self-interest and material gain for providing labor makes on a mercenary I’ll wear that label proudly.

                  I’ll do things for my family out of the kindness of my heart – I have volunteered at an animal shelter out of the kindness of my heart but you want me to show up for work? Yeah, no kindness about it – it’s about what’s hitting my direct deposit.

                8. Sooo anon for this one*

                  @Jamie and @Alison

                  “Inefficiently run businesses end up laying people off. They close. Businesses have to keep labor costs in line or no one will have a job.”

                  True. But I worked for a business that chose to lay people off, which directly required me and others to increase our workloads 8 to 12 hours a week without a pay increase, and then announced the following week that the corporate managers were getting bonuses.

                  This same employer laid me off, then announced large bonuses the week after. Most of the employees who were laid off when I was could have been retained if the company had not paid bonuses to the people who ran up the debt that the layoffs were supposed to help offset.

                  There’s a difference between a company managing its costs and a company increasing the workload for low-ranked employees or terminating those employees in order to give more money to managers who incurred debt that is dragging the company down.

                  Jamie’s employer may be more ethical than my former employer. But the information that Walmart could raise employee pay to a living wage across the U.S. just by ending its stock buy-back program shows that some companies could contribute to increasing employment without harming stock prices or profits.

                  Companies that are profitable should not be consolidating jobs unless the consolidation combines two positions where the workers were underemployed or where enough job responsibilities will be eliminated to make the work reasonable for the salary paid.

                9. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  @Sooo anon —

                  I totally get that viewpoint; it’s just not mine :)

                  I generally think that if a company judges that it’s in the best interest of their business to consolidate positions, that’s their call to make. I know I’d want to be able to make that type of decision for my own business, if it’s what I judged best for my goals.

                10. Sooo anon for this one*

                  I agree that consolidating jobs is the employer’s call to make.

                  Some employers have misplaced priorities, though. Whenever my former employer announces bonuses, websites covering the industry list all the layoffs that came before the bonus awards, and some sites have even called for a change in management.

                  And yes, I did start applying for other jobs well before I was laid off.

          2. Anonymous_J*

            At a certain point, a job can cost you more than not having one. If you can’t cover your bills or get medical care when you need it, but you’re busting your buns 40+ hours per week, what’s the point?

            I totally get it.

            1. FreeThinkerTX*

              Yup. The company I was working for closed its doors in October. A fellow franchisee offered to hire me for a smidge less than I had been getting, but with no health insurance. I turned him down for two reasons:

              (1) His level of pay would have put me slightly out of range for being covered by the local county hospital/health care system. So I would have a slight decrease in salary and absolutely no avenue to health care (and right now I have avascular necrosis in my left hip – i.e., the top of femur is dying and fracturing, so I *really* need to be able to get this taken care of).

              (2) His office is 3 towns away, and even though I would have been doing outside sales (driving around all day to visit insurance agents and property managers), he wanted me in the office 1st thing every morning, and then back there again at the end of the day. Mileage while visiting customers would be covered, but mileage to/from his office would not. I did some quick back-of-the-napkin calculations and realized I’d essentially be paying out of pocket for the privilege of a 4 hour commute.

              It, quite literally, did not add up.

              [And, heck, shortly afterward my hip went to hell in a hand basket, and now I’m on crutches while waiting for the county hospital to decide that a dying and fracturing bone is, indeed, worthy of a referral to the orthopedic department. (!) So I wouldn’t have been able to work for him for more than a few weeks, anyway.]

        3. clobbered*

          No, all but one were employed and most of them were clearly employable. I really think it’s the brainwashing about not coming across as mercenary (it’s a non-profit field). I suspect at least some will raise it later in the process. Interestingly enough, this was not a gender split, they all said it.

          For the record, if you are going to tell your interviewer that your primary motivation is not money, please have some plausible explanation as to why this is. The people who came across best where the ones you said well, “that’s a bit lower than I make now / market rate, but this is a unique opportunity for this and this reason, it leads me to my career goal of X and Y, and I know I can manage fine on this salary because of Z”. If you just say “uh, well, yes, that’s not so important”, it leaves me thinking you just don’t want to talk about it.

          Disclaimer: There may have been cultural issues at play, too.

          1. fposte*

            I think the nonprofit plays in as well, though, as do other social services-types position. We’re always struggling to figure out how much self-interest is permissible when we’re working for the greater good, and it does get used against is with some frequency.

            1. COT*

              It totally does get used against us. Nonprofits know that you’re taking a lower salary in part because you’re passionate about seeing their mission in the community. The mission-focused work has many benefits, but sometimes organizations take advantage of that and don’t prioritize paying a living wage and providing healthcare for employees. Many are excellent employers… but not all.


      2. COT*

        You’re right–candidates should be upfront about whether your range is something they can accept. I think it’s fair to say “yes, that’s okay” at the moment before you have a chance to do the math. When you’ve had a moment to crunch the numbers, if you decide that the employer’s range is way below yours it’s only fair to remove yourself from consideration right away.

        1. Evan the College Student*

          That’s almost exactly what I remember saying back when I was applying to college when someone from a scholarship department, on the phone, said they were awarding me a dollar figure which made it all but impossible for me to attend that college. I didn’t know what to say; I didn’t want to burn any bridges that might still be possible. So, I fell back on such platitudes – and, fortunately, was able to hang up the phone soon. Maybe your interviewees are being sincere; maybe they’re in the same boat I was then.

        2. AJ-in0Memphis*

          I like to discuss the range of the salary with people that are making more money in their current or previous position. This keeps everyone from wasting their time!

      3. KellyK*

        Good for you for bringing it up first. It does sound like they thought that was what they were supposed to say. Maybe they thought it was a trick question?

        I can picture being taken aback by getting the question during the screening call and not wanting to take yourself out of the running until you know more about what the job will be like (particularly if you’re unemployed, already making below market rate for your skills, or in a job you despise). But I find it hard to believe that not a single person cared about the money.

        1. the gold digger*

          In the initial call about the job I have now, they told me the salary range. I was shocked at how low it was, but as an unemployed person who had to get a job and who didn’t have employers banging my door down, I swallowed hard and said that it was acceptable.

          My plan, however, is to get fabulous results at this job and move in a year to a salary that isn’t so demoralizing.

          1. Mari*

            The only problem with that is that now you have set your wage at a lower rate. Some companies will not consider you for a higher salary if you are at a lower range no matter what you are applying for and what the going rate is … stupid but there it is.

            1. BeenThere*

              This is exactly why I have turned down offers from various recruiters who have given me a range that’s 30% below what I was last being paid which was 20% below market rate.

              I’ve found a recruiter that understands my skills and has positions in my range in an area I want. I’m willing to wait another 3 months before my husband and I decide to move to an area where we both can be paid what we are worth. I guess we are lucky we can be mobile at this point.

            2. Kelly O*

              This is my catch-22. I had to take such a pay cut after September 2008 that apparently it’s too big a step to get me back to where I was when that happened.

              And you have no idea how demoralizing it is to be told you’re not worth as much because you took the job you could get. Makes you wonder how many more years you’re going to have to struggle to get back, if it even happens at all.

              1. KellyK*

                Is this with your current job or with others you’re applying for? Because I would argue that the fact that you weren’t worth X when the economy went to hell in a handbasket has no bearing on your value now, when we’re in something that at least resembles a recovery. This is why salary history has nothing to do with an employee’s actual value.

      4. Waiting Patiently*

        If I put myself on the hook by applying for a job without the salary posted and I was unemployed this would be my response as well. I wouldn’t refuse a possible offer until I have found the best offer.
        There are times Ive considered applying to jobs that offer below market pay just for the experience. But I know the salary upfront, so if I applying with full knowledge.

  6. JLL*

    THANK YOU for saying that. It’s ridiculous. I know what the average is, I know what I make- why play this game? If you tell me the number or at least the “range” upfront, I can decide whether or not i’m interested in finding out more.

    I also hate employers who ask “what are you thinking, as far as salary?” Um, I’m thinking it doesn’t matter too much what I think if it’s not what you’re offering, so how about you tell me that and we go from there?

      1. Elizabeth West*

        LOL me too!
        I have a phone interview in two hours for a job I want. I’m pretty sure it won’t be poverty-stricken, though, because I already interviewed for something else at the same company, which was a slightly lesser position, and it paid pretty much what I was hoping. So this one may be even more.

        Ahh now I made myself nervous. Damn. *pretends she doesn’t care; whistles nonchalantly*

        1. Elizabeth West*


          *quakes in boots*

          I can do this job. I am fabulous! I have all the required skills except I can’t do math but that’s okay because they want an English major to clean up their nasty consultant reports! I am THE QUEEN OF THIS!!!!

          1. Elizabeth West*


            OMG the phone interveiw went GREAT!!!!!!!! She wants me to talk to the people in the office here (she is in another state). We laughed a lot and agreed on a lot of stuff.
            It’s a newly created position, but it sounds like I would really be able to make it my own. And from this initial conversation, there’s nothing there I can’t do and do well.
            Also, it starts at WAY over what I was hoping for, paywise. WAAAAAAAYYYYY over. Please please please pleeeeeeeeeeease………………

            But it’s not like I’m going to get my hopes up or anything. *whistles, buffs fingernails on shirt*

            1. Anonymous_J*

              My fingers are crossed so hard for you, Elizabeth! I hope you get it and that you rock it! :)

              Good luck!

    1. Victoria HR*

      Because if you’re “thinking” a number below their range, they’ll pounce on it and save money in the hire :)

      It’s a game or a dance, kind of like when you’re selling a house and the buyer makes an offer, you come down a thousand or so, they come up a thousand or so, finally you meet in the middle. It’s expected.

      (although a big “f you” to the buyers for my house who made an offer, we came down, they walked)

      1. Em*

        To be fair no one ever sells a house without listing an asking price. You at least have some idea of whether or not you can afford to be in the ballpark.

    2. Al Lo*

      I recently had a good experience with the “what are your salary expectations?” question, but if they’d given me the range upfront, I probably would have walked away.

      In my first interview, I gave an expected number that was decent — probably low-balling myself a bit, but still acceptable. It’s an arts organization; I understand that it’ll always pay a bit less than a comparable for-profit organization would pay. In my second interview, before I was technically offered the position, but when I was one of two final candidates, I was informed that they would be able to meet my request — and that it was 25% higher than the position had previously paid, but they felt that my experience and skill set warranted finding the extra cash in the budget.

      I don’t know if I would have had the balls to negotiate up that far if they’d given me the salary range to start with, and the previous salary was well below what I would be willing to take. But by offering my number without context, and not knowing that the original salary was something I’d have walked away from, it worked out in the end.

    3. Mike C.*

      “What am I thinking? I want as much as you’re willing to pay me, that’s what I’m thinking”.

      What else could I possibly be thinking?

  7. LOLwut*

    And I’ll bet a lot of employers feel blindsided when, after extending an offer, the candidate suddenly starts asking what’s in it for him/her. After all, they didn’t bring it up during the interview process, so they must be just so dazzled with the very thought of joining your shining city on the hill that they’ll work for any price, under any conditions.

    I learned my lesson about this the hard way. Didn’t push the salary issue during the first interview, but I did volunteer my current salary. My offer came in at the exact same salary I was already making. I managed to talk them up to a better salary, and accepted, and now realize what a mistake I made. With any company that arrogant, you need to just walk away.

  8. Mike*

    Another good one from Norma Beasant:
    > 4. “What sort of flextime options do you have?”
    Why not talk about it? That information tells me a lot about the organizational culture.

    When I interviewed I asked questions that were important to me. If they gave a negative impression then it probably wasn’t a place I’d want to work for anyways.

  9. Anonymous*

    Ugh, a REALLY annoying interviewing and salary issue came up for my husband recently.
    So when he originally applied to this job, he included his salary requirements. On his first interview, he was again asked his salary requirements and he provided the information again (interviewer even wrote it down). Fast forward, following a second interview, he is offered the job…. and the salary they offer is 8k less than the low end of his salary range!

    He inquires, “I’m a bit confused by the offer, when I told you my range”…. they respond “Well we though that since after incentives/bonuses throughout the year your “total income” would be about 7k higher than the salary, so we figured that was close enough to your range.” Um… assuming he gets all of these supposed “bonuses and incentives”, it is still 1k short of the lowest end of his range! Sorry, he isn’t going to take a huge pay cut to accept your job, buddy. My husband, once again, stated his range, and said if they cannot meet this he cannot accept the job.

    So here we are, a week later, and they still haven’t told him whether or not they can meet his salary requirements… which were his requirements from the start (and are definitely nothing excessive/irrational for the role & industry standards)! We were so frustrated that they wasted his time, just to ignore his requirements and totally low-ball him.

    In sum, I also think salary should be a part of the interviewing discussion, because it is usually a deal-breaker. And if someone tells you their range, and they are out of your range, discuss the disparity with them from the start… why waste everyone’s time?!!

    1. The IT Manager*

      Analogy! I just bought a new car. I decided what I was willing to spend before I started shopping because that number eliminated a whole bunch of brands, makes, and models. Why would I shop for a car without considering the price? No one would! Same kind of thing here.

      1. Jamie*

        The car analogy is apt. I don’t want to waste my time discussing package options with the Mercedes dealer when I know I’m budgeted for a Ford.

        Waste of time.

      2. Mari*

        If the car is the candidate … What would you miss out on if you didn’t at least HEAR what the options were. The difference may not be huge but the benefits on the other hand might be to your advantage. The question being: What would make you willing to pay extra?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I think that absolutely makes sense when you’re taking about a relatively small difference (with cars or jobs). But when it’s the difference between a Ford or a Mercedes, or a 30% pay cut, most people would rather not waste the time.

          1. The IT Manager*

            Precisely. Once I established the max, there was no point in me looking Mercedes or BMWs because I wasn’t willing to go anywhere near their price point for the style of car I wanted. I also knew I could get a perfectly acceptable car in my range. It’s not like once I set my max, I looked around and couldn’t find anything.

          2. Kelly O*

            This completely.

            I also hate the “well, with these benefits you would be…” I mean, I hate it, but daycare does not accept “but my health benefits actually make this a pay raise.” Neither does the power company. It’s funny how that works.

            1. KellyK*

              Hehe, yep. For it to actually get your bills paid, said benefit has to actually provide you with money. Sure, if you save me $100 a month on insurance, I’m okay with making $1200 less a year (maybe plus or minus depending on tax bracket and whatnot). But saying “Oh, it’s better vacation time and we have 401k matching,” does not actually help me now.

              And really, the benefits are only worth adding in if they’re outside the norm for your field, like a month’s paid vacation or the company covering a huge percentage of a really good insurance plan. Because the companies paying market rate for whatever the position is are probably offering those benefits too.

    2. Colette*

      I had a very similar experience with a company I interviewed for a couple of years ago. I don’t work there – not (entirely) because of the salary, but because of the game playing and the fact that they asked my expectations several times and then weeks later said “Oh, our range is significantly less than your expectations”.

    3. Anon*

      I despise when companies factor in bonuses as salary. NO. Not even. What happens when they can’t give the bonuses, then?

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yeah, that’s like a larger version of tips. I didn’t work for just tips when I was in food service–did it once and never again. No matter how hard you work, there are times when the company can’t, or won’t, authorize bonuses.

      2. Nyxalinth*

        This past summer, I saw an appointment setter job that in the ad claimed it was “Hourly base plus commission”. I took it at face value and was hired along with a few others. During the orientation/paperwork phase of the first day, we’re told “Well, how it really works if with your commission bonuses and spiffs, you can average 8.00 an hour minimum, so that’s still technically true: you’d be getting a base hourly.”

        Me: But that’s just really commission only, and you’re saying it’s hourly because if we make commission, that’s how it breaks down. that’s not the same as ‘Base +commision and bonuses.’ like it says in your ad.

        Guy: well, if you don’t like it, I’m sure there’s loads of people who would love to try.

        Me: Guess so *gets up and ;eaves*

        I don’t like being lied to. Every telesales/appointment setter job I’ve done has always been very up front about how the pay works. Why they felt a need to lie (or be weaselly at best) in their ad is beyond me.

        1. Jamie*

          They felt the need to lie because they (rightly) knew that if they listed it as commision only they wouldn’t get the same candidate pool.

          And they count on people not standing up for themselves (as you did) and just taking it because they got the interview and at least it’s something.

          I’d bet that was the mindset.

          When I was looking years ago I had my resume posted on a job board and got a call from someone looking for a specific job title which is pretty unusual and they were so excited about my resume, blah blah. The job was all about analyzing optimization and using data to guide managers to x efficiency…well what a coincidence those were some very bullet points on my resume!

          I get there, it’s a group interview for a financial firm and in just a few short hours we can all learn to sell financial services – starting with our friends and family.

          The entire phone screen was a blatant lie. When I called them on it they had NO idea who did my phone screen and my mentioning the name didn’t ring a bell.

          I stormed out of there – in an uncomfortable pencil skirt, heels, and pantyhose which I personally consider a form of torture. I drove an hour and marinated in stress and nervousness for that.

          I was still pretty naive – no way would I cross the street without a hell of a lot more prep and digging these days.

          There is a special place in hell for those bait & switchers.

          1. Job seeker*

            Jamie, you have grit. That is a compliment. I wish I could be more like that. You said you were pretty naive about job searching back then but how did you get from there to now? You have a lot of confidence that I wish I had.:-)

            1. Jamie*

              Awww – thanks. I’ve just been working long enough to know it’s not unheard of that some people are liars…so I’m less naive.

              And I would still be really nervous if I were interviewing – don’t get me wrong – I don’t enjoy meeting people for the first time and I’m not a big fan of selling myself to strangers.

              But I think even though hiring isn’t a main part of my job (for which I’m grateful) I’ve been involved in enough over the years both from behind the interview desk/other side of the phone screen and behind the scenes vetting candidates that I’ve peeked behind the curtain enough – and the more you see of a process the less scary it is.

              Seriously though, I wouldn’t be this confident if I was interviewing. I’d be able to fake it better, though.

          2. Josh S*

            I’ve been to one of those as well, when looking for a job out of college. My initial “interview” consisted of one guy telling a room full of “candidates” about this great “opportunity” to make money hand over fist. Then, we were to break up into individual “interviews” one-on-one, where I presume the other members of the pyramid/financial scheme would use hard-sell tactics to get us hooked.

            I ducked out before I could meet my ‘interviewer.’ I would have walked out of the first rah rah session, but I had chosen to sit front-and-center, and I was too polite at that time in my life to “embarrass” the interviewer. But dang, that scam smelled to high heaven from about 2 minutes in…

          3. Nyxalinth*

            Wow,something similar happened to me once! I was in Florida at the time and got a call that was ostensibly for a call center position but really turned out to be the same deal. We’d also have to pay over a thousand dollars to get the financial brokerage licenses. and this was from a big, well-known financial institution. Their initials were AE, for the curious. Apparently, their recruiters for this would describe the position as a “Financial consultant” position and naive me, I assumed it was for a call center. The fact that she went on about all my call center work and how great it was didn’t help :P I wonder if she’d begun using dodgy methods because her recruitment numbers were low.

    4. LMW*

      This happened to me a few months ago. I was very upfront about my current salary and what I was looking for during the phone screen and after a ridiculously long interview process (three in-person interviews and a lunch), they offered me a salary $5000 under what I was making. It was very confusing and really destroyed my perception of the company. (And it was my signal to start applying for higher level jobs, which actually worked.)

    5. Rana*

      Ugh. I suspect part of this is that some people (like me, perhaps unfortunately) are being precise and honest when they say “This is the lowest I can accept” – as in, I will not and cannot work for less than that. Others, though, mean it as a starting point in the negotiations, as they actually can or will work for less, but would prefer something higher. It sounds like this company thought your husband was one of the latter sort, when he wasn’t.

      It’s a bit of a stupid dance all around, because the company wants to pay you as little as they can, and you want as much as you can, and both of you are trying to set bare minimums without giving too much away at the same time.

  10. Anonymous*

    This is so wonderful. As a new reader, I must ask: Are there 44 other dumb interviewing conventions previously posted about?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        This is right — I randomly made up the number for this one and haven’t labeled others explicitly, but we certainly do talk about a lot of them here!

        1. Jamie*

          To this point I was reading on another forum recently someone talking about two system admin positions. One in the 50-55 K range and one paying $12.50 per hour.

          If you’ve ever read through those job listings there is very little, if anything, separating those two kinds of jobs in the descriptions but you are definitely fishing in two very different candidate pools.

          Everyone make a commitment to list the range so people can self-select.

          1. anonintheUK*

            yes, ‘tax manager’ can be anything from 4 years’ post-university experience and still being supervised to basically running the show, and only a salary range will show what kind of tax manager an employer is looking for .

          2. Esra*

            Graphic designers have the same problem. A job can net you anything from minimum wage to 3-4x that an hour. Very very rare is the position that lists compensation or benefits. To the point where the ones that ask the applicant to list their expectations are a boon because at least they want to talk about it.

  11. Anon*

    I’m not applying to volunteer and, even if I believe in a certain cause, my landlord, my stomach, my phone and electric companies and the U.S. Dept. of Education do appreciate me getting paid within a reasonable range.

    Thank you for saying this. I think somewhere down the line, we forgot that work is about making a living more than devoting oneself wholeheartedly to a mission, whether that mission is social justice or earning bigger profits.

    1. ExceptionToTheRule*

      I live in a small, midwestern state with a low cost of living. I interviewed for an internal company job posting in Florida, which has a much higher (~20%) cost of living.

      The company offered me the position at the same salary I was making, indicating the sunny weather in Florida was part of the compensation package. I doubt they were particularly pleased when I asked if landlords accepted sunshine as a rent payment.

      1. Elizabeth*

        Friends of mine perform in a band at renaissance festivals, and they ask for tips at their shows, so that their pay goes above what they receive from the festival for compensation. Their tip spiel has always included “While applause is great, it is difficult to go to the landlord each month and say ‘Nice apartment!’.”

        On average, their tips have been about 10% higher than similar groups. I have to assume that it is because they are some of the few who acknowledge that while they love the music, they do it for the money.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I wrote a blog post about that on my writer blog, “Money is a Dirty Word.” So many people think creative people are doing it “for the love of it!” I believe I actually used the word “piffle.” Yeah, we mostly love writing and acting and drawing and painting and playing music and singing, but we still have to eat. Makes it hard to do it for an actual career as opposed to a hobby. Sheesh.

          Of course, not all my hobbies I would want to do as a full-time job, either. I like counted cross stitch, but it would kill me to do it all day. My hands would fall off and I would get sick of it.

          1. Anonymous_J*

            Yup. Drives me mad. It’s like people think we have so much fun at it that it’s “just a hobby.”

            Uh, no. Mine is my side BUSINESS.

          2. KellyK*

            Exactly! It’s also really hard to be creative if you’re hungry and every time your phone rings, it’s a bill collector.

            Honestly, whether someone “loves what they do” should be irrelevant to whether or how much the recipient pays for it. Are they providing you with something of value? If yes, then you need to do likewise. (I mean, I find an odd sort of joy in cleaning up hellacious document formatting or writing Word macros to automate boring and stupid tasks. That doesn’t mean I’d do it for free.)

            Also, people who think artists should just work “for the love of it” should be reminded that once they stop being a customer, their opinion on the final product or their ability to benefit from it cease to be relevant. If that musician sings just for joy, it will probably be in his living room with his musician buddies.

      2. KellyK*

        Ha! I love that response.

        Sure, Florida’s sunny. Sunshine’s not worth a 20% pay cut, especially when the trade-off for sunshine is blazing heat, muggy humidity, and let’s not forget alligators and hurricanes.

      3. Rana*

        Then there’s the flip side, of you living in an expensive place and applying elsewhere, and “lower cost of living” being given a reason to justify a lower salary. Unfortunately, in my experience, while housing may well be lower, things like food and gas and clothing all tend to cost just as much (sometimes more), and you make up for the low cost of housing by having to drive longer distances for food, shopping, and work.

      4. Anonymous_J*

        Love it!

        I had a similar situation where I interviewed for and was offered a job that was a bit below my minimum. When I called to turn down the job, the woman on the other end said, “But we offere very generous benefits!” I responded, “That’s great, but those very generous benefits won’t pay my rent.”

        This was years ago. Why don’t employers get it? We need to be paid a LIVING wage.

      5. FreeThinkerTX*

        I had the same experience back in 90’s when I was working for the largest payroll processing company in the US. I was fresh out of college and wanted to move (back) to San Francisco to be close to my dad. The money I was making in my home town barely covered my bills. They wanted to pay me the same amount in Silicon Valley. (!) I think I might’ve been able to afford to rent a one-room “efficiency”… as long as I shared it with 3 other roommates!!

  12. EngineerGirl*

    What’s with the sin against God thing Alison? The Bible explicitly states that “the worker deserves his wages” (Luke 10:7)

    There are several Bible verses condemning employers who cheat their workers.

    1. KellyK*

      I have actually seen preachers (evangelical Christian if I recall correctly) arguing that we shouldn’t raise teacher pay because “It’s a calling.” and people shouldn’t be in it for the money. I think there are some off-base assumptions about work that have religious roots—maybe it’s a “Protestant work ethic” thing.

      1. Rana*

        Yup. I was having an argument about this with someone the other day, how if you like your work, they use that as justification for paying you less. Oddly, if you don’t like your work, that’s never reason to pay you more…

      2. Anonymous_J*

        It goes on in other religious communities, too. There’s a big divide in my own (non-Christian) community between people who think clergy should not be paid at all, ever and people who understand that for some clergy, that is their sole JOB. It’s all they do.

        It’s perfectly possible–and acceptable, IMO–to love what you do AND get paid for it.

        1. KellyK*

          Wow. I’m pretty sure the quality of religious services would decline rapidly if clergy members were putting them together in their free time, and could only do it as long as they had that free time available. And I’m pretty sure a theology degree costs just as much as any other.

      3. Laura L*

        Being a preacher (or other religious leader) is usually referred to as a “calling,” right? And most of them don’t get paid that much. So, they’re probably extrapolating from their own experience to others.

        I think that whole concept (that you should be willing to be paid less if the work is emotionally fulfilling) is ridiculous. I’m also generally not on board with the idea of having a “calling,” but that’s probably because I don’t have one. Or, I don’t have one that most others would refer to as a calling.

  13. Gene*

    This is one place where Civil Service is ahead of the game. Before you even apply you know what the pay is, you know what the benefits are, you can even get a copy of the employee handbook.

    1. Xay*

      Yes. The upside of a government job is that the pay range is usually in the job listing and everyone knows what everyone else makes.

  14. Jamie*

    And this is why AAM is the Holy Grail of employment advice.

    For crying out loud, why on earth would I go through the trouble of the interview process if what I need to jump isn’t even in the same neighborhood of what you are willing to pay?

    There is nothing wrong with making sure everyone is in the same neighborhood…you can worry about the specifics of how nice the house is later.

    Discussing money shouldn’t be taboo in a business discussion – it’s kind of critical.

    I am very proud of the fact that I’ve never posted a job ad without a pay range.

  15. Construction HR*

    Maybe I’ve been blessed, maybe it’s my industry, but the salary/benefits convo always comes up much earlier rather than later.

  16. Anonymous*

    Oh yes! Had this happen years ago. I applied for an AA position at an advertising agency shortly after graduating college. The interview went incredibly well. I got on very well with the gentlemen I interviewed with and I even had a little known skill they needed which not many people had (editing a reel to reel tape. It was an ad agency that dealt with radio a lot). I ordinarily did not ask about salary but had been on a few interviews before that one where the salary was nowhere near what I expected. They mentioned about me coming back for a second interview and when they asked if I had any questions, I asked my interview-type questions and my last question was “I realize this is a rather gauche question for a first interview and I apologize for that. Do you happen to have an idea of what the salary range for the position might be?” The two guys looked at each other and went “uhm…that’s not something we’ve really considered yet.” I never heard from them about a second interview. If anything, that shows me I dodged a bullet with that position. How could they not have a salary range in mind? I found that quite strange. Still do even 10 years later!

      1. Anonymous*

        Thank you! Feel free to borrow it.

        I still can’t wrap my head around that. How can you interview for a position without having some vague idea of salary? It *can* come up.

    1. Sam*

      Yep, I’ve done something similar. When asked back for a second interview at the end of the first, I said something like, “I’m very impressed with this company and the position. I think it will be a great fit, but I want to make sure that we’re on the same page salary-wise before I take any more of your time.”

      Turns out the salary range was much higher than I had dared to hope. Having an idea of the range before getting a solid offer put me in a much better position to negotiate. Maybe that’s one reason why companies like to keep the salary a secret until the end?

    2. Anon*

      This – I just related a similar story below. Just absolutely crazy when asking is considered a mark against you!

  17. Andie*

    This post is right on time! I just saw a job I would love love love to apply for. It is close to home and the organization is great. I have always been a fan of this nonprofit and the work they do. Yesterday I saw an ad for a position there and I was so excited until I saw the salary. It was about $15,000 less than what I am currently making. The sad thing is it is a higher position than what I have now so it would be a step up careerwise but there is no way that I could take a pay cut like that. I am glad they posted the salary because I would have applied which would have been a waste of everyone’s time because I would have had to say no if they offered the job to me.

  18. Sascha*

    “Don’t ask any questions related to your needs.” Because you don’t have any, you mindless worker drone! I can replace you with robots!!!

  19. Chaucer*

    “it makes you look as though you’re applying for the job because of the money. That [can] seem too mercenary.”

    Er, excuse me for shattering the syrupy romanticism that seems to come from many high-level executives, hiring managers and motivational book authors, but doesn’t EVERY job seeker look for work because they, in the end of all of it, want to be paid? Yes, we should all apply for jobs that we want to do, but unless looking to volunteer or intern for the purpose of gaining experience as a means of obtaining paid employment, nobody wants to work for free. It’s unfortunate, but I think the crappy economy allows companies to lowball candidates and justify it by using lame, romantic reasoning.

    1. Jamie*


      “1. Motivated solely by a desire for monetary or material gain.”

      “1. One who serves or works merely for monetary gain; a hireling.”

      “1. influenced by greed or desire for gain”

      “2. Rare any person who works solely for pay”

      I’m kind of okay with any of those definitions being applied to me. I may have other motivations – but if the money isn’t there neither are the other motivations.

      1. Chaucer*

        I agree. I am also ok with those definitions being applied to me.

        I find articles that state pay is not the primary reason for employers leaving jobs amusing in how certain employers interpret said articles. They use the reasoning of, “well, since pay is not the main reason employees quit jobs, we can get away with offering low wages!” Even if there are other factors that have a stronger influence on whether somebody stays at a job or not, dismissing pay is very flawed; it’s even more flawed when studies like that are used to “justify” terrible pay.

    2. Mari*

      usually when applying for a job, we are asked “how will you make a decision on an opportunity” or verbiage very similar. and the answer is: opportunity for growth, company stability and compensation and benefits. If course we want the perfect job, but also have bills to pay, mouths to feed (even if the mouths I feed walk on four legs). ;)

  20. Sam*

    Thank you!

    I would think that employers would want to avoid wasting time on applicants who wouldn’t accept the job – or even apply in the first place – if they knew the salary upfront.

    1. KarenT*

      I agree. It’s also to the benefit of the employer to discuss salary at the outset. It’s a giant waste of company time and the applicant’s time if you go through the whole process only to find out you are worlds apart in terms of expected salary.

      1. Ash*

        They are probably betting on the “sunk-cost fallacy” here. They’re hoping the potential employee feels too invested in the process to end it now, and will just accept the terms even if they don’t like them.

      2. KarenT*

        One of my friends interviews for a marketing manager job that she thought would easily pay $60,00 to $70,000. She went through three interviews to learn they planned to pay $40,000. They tried to sweet talk her into taking the job at the low pay rate. She told them explicitly the salary was waaaay below market rate (especially considering the amount of responsibility and experience required) and that she was no longer interested. The interviewer told her that she had wasted the company’s time by leading them on. Um, no. If the company had the salary discussion in the phone screen or first interview, everyone’s time would have been saved.

        1. Anonymous*

          ^ This. +1 million. Your friend was totally justified in walking. She wasn’t being a resume tease.

  21. Juni*

    If it’s not in the job posting, I always always put it in the cover letter. I’ve been burned too many times, especially in the nonprofit sector.

    Usually just a little sentence that says, “Like any ambitious professional, I’m looking to increase my current salary for a position like {this one} which represents increased responsibility. While a compensation package is more than just a salary, I’m looking for something in the $45-55K range.”

    I’ve had more than one response to this saying, “Wow, you’re just what we’re looking for and your experience is clearly worth $55K, but that’s outside our budget. Are you flexible?” or, alternately, “Wow, you’re just what we’re looking for and your experience is clearly worth $55K, but that’s outside our budget. Best of luck to you in your search!”

    1. Janet*

      Yes, the non-profit sector is terrible for this. I had worked at two nationally focused non-profits when I relocated to my home town. There were numerous locally focused non-profits and I learned rather quickly that they would give fantastic titles and terrible salaries. I applied for a Director level position and during the interview the person told me “We can’t afford to pay you what you previously made – the salary is $20,000 less than that per year.” I can’t afford a $20,000 pay cut! Why interview me?

    2. Natalie*

      That’s very interesting – my experience has been that non-profits are more willing to be upfront. It may be a function of the level I’m looking at or the city I live in, but I’ve gotten the sense that the hiring managers are tired of getting close to hiring someone, only to have that person drop out when the salary is too low. In a few cases it hasn’t been in the posting, but it’s mentioned when they call to set up an interview.

  22. JF*

    I recently interviewed a candidate. After the usual hello and what not, I asked if they had any questions before we started the interview questions. They immediately asked about Salary.

    I found this off-putting. I understand and agree that salary should be visible and obvious, but this is first impression time!

    I think an issue here is not the discussion itself, but making sure you avoid the possible conflict brought on by this question until after you have made a positive impression. Negotiation is important but I don’t think it should be the very first point of contact.

    Am I in the wrong here?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s the way they did it — walking in and asking it immediately is weird, just like if they had sat down and you’d immediately said, “What salary are you looking for?”

      Plus, at that point, if the answer revealed that you were on different pages, what would be the point with continuing on with the conversation? It would have made more sense for them to ask when they were contacted about the interview (as described in the post I linked to above: https://www.askamanager.org/2011/07/can-i-ask-about-salary-range-before-accepting-an-interview.html)

      I think you’d have had a different reaction if they’d asked it a bit differently.

      1. JF*

        Thank you. I found it disconcerting – Your points in the original post all made sense to me, but I felt that this response was weird. I was having a hard time reconciling these two (until now) opposing viewpoints.

        Thanks for solving my cognitive dissonance.

    2. Chaucer*

      You set yourself up for it by asking BEFORE the interview began if they had any questions about the position. I think it’s much better to ask that after the interview. You say that it’s first impression time and that you should avoid a possible conflict until after you make that positive impression, but by asking if they had any questions before the interview started as opposed to after, they never had the chance to make the positive impression that you wanted.

      So to answer your question, yes. you were in the wrong to think that.

      1. JF*

        I appreciate the feedback and do agree that there should be time to discuss this after the questions, but I usually ask this in case they have questions about the interview process itself.

        Simply asking if they have questions does not force the candidate to ask this question as their first. Candidates should feel that they can ask this question afterwards, regardless if I have asked them of any questions at the start. No other candidates have had this problem when asked.

        Nonetheless, I have started asking “Do you have any questions about the interview process” instead to prevent this.

  23. Anonimus*

    If you ask about salary in the first interview, “it makes you look as though you’re applying for the job because of the money. That [can] seem too mercenary.”

    So I shouldn’t ask them if the salary would be able to cover my $6ok in student loans payments?!

    But why would I waste my time going through the interview process, then find out at the end that what they’re offering won’t let me make a livable wage or be able to pay my student loans or give me any benefits? Like most recent college grads, I have student loans to pay off. It would be nice to have a job that can help me make those payments and then have some left over to save up. But I guess we’re too “demanding” and “entitled” to expect that.

    If they want the best employee for the job, they should be open about all facets of the job, including salary and benefits. It would weed out those that won’t be able to take the job because of pay or other reasons. It would make it easier for HR to look at resumes and maybe it could make them realize that to attract the best talent, they need to increase the salary or provide more benefits for the position. But not doing that makes the system more inefficient and turn away people that would be a great asset to their company. And that way, everyone loses.

  24. Waiting Patiently*

    I think I’m lazy. If they don’t mention salary in the job description, I usually don’t apply.

  25. Her*

    I couldn’t agree more. I really wish that employers would just post a salary range along with the job description and save everyone, including themselves, the time of going through wasteful interviews. It doesn’t make sense to me why you’d want to spend the time determining whether someone is fit for the position only to have them turn it down once they realize the salary is far below what they would accept.

  26. PaulaS*

    As an employee at one of the locations mentioned by the quoted persons in the article, I find the quotations interesting in two respects:
    1. When I was in the hiring process from one dept to another within this same organization, the hiring contact outright asked me my salary intentions/expectations/requirements before she called me in for an interview. I get this a lot because I’m usually overqualified and people find it hard to believe I would accept their salary so they don’t bother to ask. If they put everything out on the table from the get-go, it would save everyone a lot of time.
    2. Related to this, the organization I work for makes the job applicant search deeply in the bowels of their website to even find a salary range for their jobs since salaries are RARELY listed in the posting. Other similar institutions put their salary right in the ad, again saving a whole lot of time. As an applicant, I am much more likely to apply and think favorably on those locations that don’t put the burden of finding basic job info on the applicant.

  27. COT*

    I recently interviewed at a nonprofit that was kind enough to send me their health plan details (without me asking for it) after my phone interview. The job didn’t turn out to be the right fit, but I was pleased at their forthrightness about their total compensation package.

    Ironically, the HR rep thought that the health plan was impressive compared to her previous for-profit workplaces, but it wasn’t nearly as good as the Cadillac plan my current nonprofit employer provides. It was about on par with what my husband has at his Fortune 50 employer. I really appreciated knowing that as I considered the job, because health insurance can be a huge part of a salary package!

  28. Anonymous*

    Ugh. I hate to admit it, but my company is part of this problem. I’m a corporate recruiter and have been instructed to NEVER discuss our salary range while interviewing. It’s incredibly frustrating for me, because I don’t want to waste my time or the candidate’s time if we are way off on salary.

    Initially, I got around this by asking the candidates what their salary requirements were, and then letting them know if it was within our range. But then I got in trouble for doing that, so now I don’t bring it up at all. I do talk about our benefits, PTO, work environment, culture, etc. So at least there’s that.

    Granted, my company does pay well above market, so candidates are typically thrilled when I extend the offer and they finally get to see how much they’ll be paid. Could be worse!

      1. Anonymous*

        It’s not a great reason, but they basically don’t want candidates to be upset when we offer them the lower or middle end of our range instead of the top.

        1. Adam V*

          If an employee was asking for the top of the range when they’re at the bottom, the response should be simple – “people at the top of the range typically have more experience / more skill in X / more practice with Y / certification Z, so we’re unable to move you up, but the longer you’re with the company, the higher up you’ll go in this bracket, until you move up to a different bracket altogether.”

          1. Jenn*

            It should be, but candidates almost always think they’re on the higher end of the range – and they’ll debate their level of skills/experience ad infinitum.

              1. Omne*

                As someone on the receiving end of this on many occasions I would beg to disagree with you. While it doesn’t happen every time it happens around 50% of the time for me.

    1. fposte*

      “Initially, I got around this by asking the candidates what their salary requirements were, and then letting them know if it was within our range.”

      I have this picture of you sitting there as they name numbers, staying poker-faced and only saying “Getting warmer…”

  29. mel*

    Heh, maybe the salary thing is true for jobs that people actually WANT.

    The thing that annoys me the most about interviews is when an interviewer pretends that the job is actually more than it is. I can’t STAND interviewing for a terrible job as, say, a clothing folder in a store, but getting loaded questions suited for high-up professionals.

    “What can you offer us?”
    I have HANDS.

    “Why do you want to work for our company?”

    What do they really want to hear??? That I’m passionate about folding pants? Of course, no one talks about salary at those interviews because there isn’t one.

    1. Lynn*

      I think they want to hear something about “why this job, instead of a different minimum-wage job”, or at least something that shows you understand what the job is. “I’ve always enjoyed the fun, upbeat attitude of Old Navy”, or “after working for several fast food restaurants, a clean and calm work environment is very appealing to me.”

      1. Jamie*

        Those are good answers. My teenage son is looking for another job and his goal is to not have to wear a uniform or work with food since he’s sick of coming home smelling like pickles.

        I’ll pass your verbiage on to him – although I’m pretty sure he’s not ranting about his anti-pickle crusade on interviews.

  30. TracyDee*

    A few years back, my husband interviewed at a corporation and the HR fellow who interviewed him came right out and told the recruiter that my husband was not being asked back for a next interview because he’d asked about salary.

    He decided he wouldn’t want to work for people who have that mindset!

    Still, the HR fellow passed on a really awesome candidate (if I say so myself) because of something really, well, stupid.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        (Which is illegal, for whatever that’s worth. It violates the National Labor Relations Act, which requires that workers be allowed to discuss wages and working conditions with each other.)

        1. Anon*

          Only non-supervisors, though, right? Which could be everyone at a company except the lowest level employees.

  31. Anonymous*

    I once sent my resume directly to the hiring manager–a dean of a department–expressing interest in a position. I attached my resume. Within minutes, she responded saying, thank you for reaching out to me. You’ve done some interesting things and I see we’ve done some similar things BUT you wouldn’t be happy with this position as it’s primarily administrative, and the pay is relatively low.

    I knew that going in and tried to argue my case to no avail. How do you handle such concerns on the part of the hiring managers anyway?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Some people have well-rooted biases that you won’t be able to overcome. But with a normal person, you should be able to explain why you’re interested anyway.

  32. Elizabeth West*


    I am so sick of wasting my time (and the employers’ time) interviewing for jobs where I cannot live on the salary. I’ve gotten to where I try to screen the job posting to estimate it. For example, if it’s a non-profit, I know it will probably be lower. And part-time is completely out.

    I did turn one offer down where the salary was really too low for my purposes, but I assumed it was a starting salary. We had the interview, and I really liked them, and was enthusiastic, until I discovered that it wasn’t a starting salary, it WAS the salary, and on top of taxes, there was a mandatory 4% retirement deduction out of each check. And they said no one had gotten a raise in the last five years, and they doubted it would be forthcoming anytime in the future.

    I probably should have taken it and kept looking, but I knew there would be no way I could stay there, and I thought too much of them to be dishonest about it. And it was early in the game and I thought I’d have something else by now. :(

  33. Cathi*

    As a n00b to the more corporate world of employment, not knowing a salary range terrifies me for the opposite reason of a lot of other readers here. I’m afraid that if they don’t tell me what their range is, I will tell them what I need (40k/year to support my little family) and they’ll happily accept it–when the position typically pays 50, and I’ve undersold myself and missed out on a higher salary “just because”.

    Of course, I have little understanding of market rate for the types of positions I’m looking at, and I don’t have my own salary to use as a basis for comparison (career tipped worker with a college degree, bad luck, and a stubborn dependence upon geography).

    1. KellyK*

      Do you know (or can you find through LinkedIn or professional groups) people in the field where you want to work so you can figure out what the market rate is?

    2. Jamie*

      I’d recommend hitting specialized job boards for your industry and looking through ads to find the ones that do list a range. If there are none for your location look in others which are similar economically. I.e. if you’re in Chicago look at Detroit – not New York or Smalltown Mississippi. Even though you won’t move for those jobs, it can give you an idea of range.

      Make sure the job description as well as scope of responsibilities matches what you’re looking for. This can give you a decent set of data with which to work.

      1. Anonymous*

        I’m not sure how to even determine my market rate, because I’m not sure what my type of job* is typically called and there really isn’t a “market” locally**. Also I would have no problems moving to a related field*** as how I do my job is very transferable to another field.

        *I’m a researcher with a BS in a STEM field, and I’ve seen at least 10 different job titles at different places that could describe what I do, **at a local university, where there is no other university of comparable size anywhere close, and the way private versus private, or private versus public unis determine pay ranges is so totally different so they’re not remotely comparable ***since my job boils down to learn new techniques to apply to different hypothesis it’s not uncommon to totally change fields because it’s how you do the work, and not the actual work that is important. For example, a coworker went from chemistry to computer science. ****I also get paid by grant money, so that means the government has some say in how much I get paid too, as budgeting/payroll tends to be part of the grant writing and approval process.

        1. Anonymous*

          I would like to add, this is a regional consideration, as I do know what the pay would be in the closest big city, and I even know people who have worked in an equivalent position in that city.

  34. Anonymous*

    An executive level member of my division (about 500 people at a large hospital) told us at a gathering that if we were coming to work for the paycheck, we were doing it for the wrong reason.

    I put in my comment sheet for the after-event “If [Executive] isn’t coming to work for his paycheck, can I have it?”

    I’m union-represented, which is why I got away with it.

    1. Yup*

      A senior executive I once worked with said in a public forum that he loved his job so much, he couldn’t believe he got paid it. Staff reaction was that we couldn’t believe it either, since he did his job poorly and made double what a highly productive junior manager did.

      The whole “I work for the deep satisfaction it brings but will accept coin if I must” posturing is so counterproductive in job searching. If you want people who don’t need a paycheck at all, then staff your organization with volunteers. Or millionaires.

      I think this whole goofy dance is a direct result of the lousy hiring market, though. I clearly remember in the booming late ’90s when employers would post salary, bonus, and every perk you can think of in the job posting to attract candidates. The pendulum may swing back again someday.

      1. Chloe*

        Ugh, it is SO offensive for high level execs to make facile comments about their motivation for working and having a higher purpose than money. Having a lot of money means they don’t need to focus on getting more of it. Having almost no money and living week to week means it dominates your life. Its just clueless and rude to pretend otherwise.

        1. Jamie*

          I agree that comments like that are offensive, but I haven’t found that people who have money are removed from wanting more of it. The opposite, in fact, the more people have the more focused that are on getting more often times.

  35. New To AAM*

    I once had an HR rep at the initial phone interview tell me that it was their policy to offer new hires the exact same amount they earned at their current positions, because they “knew” their benefits were better. Their benefits were, in fact, significantly worse. And the program manager (who would have been my boss and the ultimate decider of salary offered) told me that HR was wrong about that. So, one lesson if you are going to talk to candidates about salary, at least make sure HR and management are on the same page.

  36. M*

    A couple of times I’ve been told by the hiring manager, in response to my salary inquiries, that I would have the opportunity to discuss salary requirements later with HR if the time came. Any way to politely push back, especially if the hiring manager doesn’t even know what the salary range would be?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Before agreeing to the next meeting, politely say something like, “Before we both invest more time, I thought we should make sure we’re on the same page about salary. I’m looking for a range of $X. Is that within your range?” (You do need to be prepared to name a number first, since you’re the one bringing it up.)

      If they still refuse, you have to decide whether you want to continue on or not; at that point, there’s not much else you can say to push it.

  37. Katie in Ed*

    I know everyone is having a good time griping about this, and the post makes perfect sense. But…there are so many hiring conventions like this that don’t make sense that we are nevertheless supposed to follow. For example, we’re supposed to wear suits to interviews even when no one wears suits on the job. Why does this particular convention conjure such vitriol?

    I would actually love to see a list of nonsensical hiring conventions that we could all contribute to..

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think this is different than most because it’s more than a minor inconvenience (like wearing a suit). It can result in a huge waste of people’s time, and the attitude of people like the ones quoted in the post are pretty outrageously out of touch.

      1. Katie in Ed*

        Even as I was coming up with that example, I recognized that the two weren’t really equivalent. I suppose I’m a bit frustrated because the rules for interviewing and hiring seem to be so often contradictory, and it’s hard for me to find my footing. It seems like logic is a slippery fish when it comes to looking for work, and one woman’s “that makes sense” is another’s gauche impropriety.

        Perhaps this is a better example, though still somewhat inadequate: hiring exercises. Some find these to be totally reasonable means of assessing a candidates potential success at the job. Others find them to be an unfair/useless waste of time or an unethical way to steal labor. Would we classify a hiring exercise as a “minor inconvenience,” like a suit? Or is it different?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Depends on what the exercise is. If it’s actual work that the employer is going to use, that’s not right. But good exercises aren’t that at all, and having someone simulate the work they’d be doing on the job is one of the best (and most crucial) ways to find out if they’re the right hire or not (which is also in the interest of the candidate).

          1. KarenT*

            I think it also depends on the scope of the exercise and time needed. When I hire editors we have the do a sample edit of a three-page document. That gives us enough information about the candidates skill. Giving them a 300 page manuscript would be unscrupulous.

        2. Rana*

          I think part of the problem is that the “rules” are really more like customs and expectations. There’s no one-size-fits-all, nor a legal code that all employers have agreed to abide by (nor, given the wide variety of positions out there, could they).

          It’s like dating – there are some general norms (wear clean clothes, don’t scare your date, don’t talk about your exes, etc.) – but what works for one place and one manager and one candidate isn’t going to be the same somewhere else for someone else.

          And because they’re not really rules, but customs and personal opinions dressed up as rules, it doesn’t make sense to get upset when people “break” them. Either the “rule-breaking” works for you, or it doesn’t; when it doesn’t, that’s a sign the position’s a bad fit, and move on.

          1. Katie in Ed*

            Ah, Rana, you put this so clearly. I think you are right. But this is cold comfort to the unemployed. Having one’s livelihood hang in the balance due to nonsensical, inconsistent norms is a special kind of hell.

            My company did a round of hiring a month ago, and I did wrinkle my nose at a candidate who discussed benefits and salary at length. But thinking about it further, that was only the shit icing on an already crappy cake. And the candidate we did hire had asked questions like this as well, but signaled how happy he was with the salary range.

      2. Elizabeth*

        This also seems in some ways a power trip. It gives the potential employer the upper hand in the employment process, in a way that few other things do.

  38. Jubilance*

    Its so crucial for a job to at least give a salary range! It helps both parties know if its worth their time to pursue. I know there have been positions I’ve been interested in, applied for & then during the phone screen learned that it was paying 1/2 or 1/3 less than my current position. I can’t afford to take that kind of pay cut & I’ve taken myself out of the process during that time.

    Hiring managers can pretend that people come to work & do what they do solely for the love they have for the job, but let’s be honest, the vast majority of ppl work to make money. If they make money staying at home, they’d do that. So to not talk money early & make sure that all the candidates are fine with the salary, is doing a disservice to everyone involved.

  39. Anonymous*

    I was thrilled when I was interviewing for my current job. At the initial phone interview with HR she first verified that we were both talking about the same job and then she said “the pay scale for this job is… Does that meet with your expectations?”

    At that point if it hadn’t we could have stopped there and not wasted anyone’s time. I also have to say she knew more about the job and industry than any other HR person I’ve spoken with.

  40. JM*

    Thank you for this! I see very few job postings that actually mention salary, so it only seems right to inquire about this. Why waste your time and your interviewer’s time if the salary is going to be an issue? Seems to me that it’s more an issue of asking tactfully. And on the opposite side – as an interviewer I hate it when someone I’m interviewing doesn’t give me salary requirements if I ask. That seems to happen a lot in my experience. They will just say “I don’t know, what’s the average” or something like that, which can actually be detrimental to them because they end up under-selling themselves. If it’s an entry-level position or a set salary I’m always upfront about it, but if salary depends on experience I want the candidate to give me a number!

  41. Vicki*

    One of the convenient aspects of looking for jobs through recruiters is that salary (or $/hour) is _always_ discussed up front.

  42. Scott*

    I have to think it’s all in your tact…not only when you mention it but how. “So, how much money am I gettin’?” may not come off right. A lot of times you get the option to ask questions in an interview. Why politely and tactfully not ask then?

  43. Chriama*

    I’m wondering what the exact protocol for this is? I’m still in school full-time so I’ve only ever done part-time minimum wage stuff but I’ve always been told in the interview or seen it in the job posting (that being said, I’ve never had more than 1 interview for a job, because, again, minimum wage part-time stuff). When I do start looking for “career-type” jobs, when should I bring up salary? I’m thinking sometime at the end of the first interview if it’s a multi-interview process. Is that appropriate? Although I know there’s nothing logically wrong with asking about salary in the first interview, I would be hesitant to bring it up until after having the discussion about duties/environment/fit. Is this the right mindset?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Well, the problem is that some interviewers will penalize you for bringing it up in the first interview (or ever), as evidenced by the types of opinions quoted in the post. They expect you to wait until they bring it up or make you an offer … which leaves you in the position of having to decide if you want to cater to that point of view or risk offending them. When you have lots of options, you may not care if they bristle at it … but if you’re at the start of your career, you probably won’t have tons of options and may need to play by their rules.

      1. Chriama*

        So going into entry-level jobs I really should just keep my mouth shut?
        I realize that my question is also mostly hypothetical because, while there’s probably a lower limit I’m not willing to cross, I would accept the right position (job + environment) for almost anything. So while more would be better, less wouldn’t be a deal-breaker.
        Given that that’s my attitude, it sounds like I’m better off just going with the flow, focusing on the job itself, and letting the compensation conversation happen when it happens?

            1. Jamie*

              For me ideally the range is in the ad. There are some instances where this may not be feasable (where there is leeway what the postion could be, etc.) and then range should be discussed in he phone screen.

              Saves everyone the trouble of the interview if parties are too far apart.

  44. Anonymous_J*

    Wow. Because it’s all about the employer, right? Workers don’t need to make a living wage, do they? Nah!


  45. ooloncoluphid*

    Newsflash for employers: 99% of people who work do it for the money. Is it so bad to want to know what you’ll be paid in compensation for 40+ hours a week of your life?

  46. jesicka309*

    I’ve been in the workforce for two years now, and am looking to do a minor career track shift. I know I’d have to go back to entry level, but as I’m only one step above it right now, that isn’t an issue.
    The issue is entry level positions vary wildly in ranges – from 30k right up to 50 k. When I started at my current role at entry level, I was at 46k (incl super). I’d be able to go back to that happily and live on that, as a year ago I was able to.
    But when employers don’t post a salary range, I have no idea what they expect. You would think marketing assistant would be relatively entry level, yet the job descriptions say they want 3-5 years experience, and then they’re only offering 40 k a year in pay! It makes me want to scream – do they honestly think that someone who has been an assistant for 5 years wants a low entry level wage? No joke, full time employees at McDonalds earn more than that in Australia! And I only have a year’s relevant experience from my internship, and I wouldn’t be happy on that wage.
    I’m starting to think that they’re hiding the wages because they know they’re not offering much. I’ve had employers tell me that they have great packages as you get lots of perks like free theatre tickets, and tickets to the Australian Open, and you get to meet famous people. Well, I’m sure my landlord will love that I met famous football stars, but he REALLY would prefer rent money actually….

  47. Liz*

    I agree with the traditional notion of not discussing money until the end. I think it is fine to upfront ask what the candidates expectations are. I usually do thin in the beginning of an interview process, but then don’t revisit it until an offer is made.

    Just because you don’t discuss money in the exact initial phase does not mean that salary is not important. It just means that there is an accepted norm for at what point in the process it gets discussed. that is all! Also, we all know that we are working to pay the bills, that is a given. But, studies also show that high performance and committment ultimately come from a wide variety of factors, of which money is usually not the most important.

    also, your interviewer is more likely to fall on this side of the spectrum. To discuss salary at the beginning is pretty dumb. You don’t have the job yet.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      But why ask someone to through an entire interview process (wasting their time and yours) if you’re too far apart on salary? Why not find that out at the beginning and save everyone’s time?

      Of course money is only one motivating factor of many — but if the money isn’t where it needs to be, that generally trumps everything else.

    2. Jamie*

      What about instances that I, and a couple other commenters upthread noticed where there can be a huge salary variance for the title.

      You can have a System Admin job which is similar to help desk making 12.00 per hour or the same job title (and description, since tech descriptions are often written by HR who don’t always get it right) which is more akin to Director of IT?

      If I were looking I’m sure not sitting through interviews for what’s essentially a help desk position. And in IT you can get pretty far in the process before you even speak with anyone technical.

      If a company doesn’t talk about a salary until that late they risk not even making iron the radar of the currently employed.

  48. Anon*

    Not too long ago a medium size company contacted me for a position in another state that I was actually very interested in moving to. The position had a very un-precise title and the company was small enough not to have very much info about it on any websites like glass door.

    The company had contacted me by going through my university (I graduated about 2 years before) so I really had no idea whether this position was a $9/hr internship type thing or a $20/hr actual job.

    The thing is, I know of many companies in my local area offering college grads with tech degrees $9-$10/hr with no benefits (I have multiple friends at these jobs). I also know that isn’t a livable wage for me.

    At the end of my second phone interview, I asked for an idea of the pay scale and the interview acted like I had just committed a cardinal sin. The went on to say their wages were “competitive” in a condescending tone.

    What does that mean? To some people $12 would be competitive!

    I didn’t get the job (after a 3rd phone interview! Talk about a waste of my lunch breaks) but I didn’t really care. They wouldn’t even tell me a salary range when they were the ones to reach out to ME (I already had a full-time job at the time).

  49. MJ*

    UGH! I went through this just recently… Started a new job and hated it so been looking for another. Reached out to a former client and they had a similar position opening up (yes, networking does work) but he never mentioned the salary. Fast forward a month later after 3 phone interviews and an inperson interview with 6 people after taking a “sick” day and low and behold they’re offering me 10k less than what i’m making now to commute 30 minutes farther than I already am. They wouldn’t even budge on the salary either. So a more expensive commute (money and time wise) with 10k less!?!? I’m so upset that I may have burned a bridge but my bills take cash unfortunately…

  50. Em*

    Unfortunately this is mentality of most companies today. You’re a piece of equipment they purchase for as little as possible. How dare you think any of it is about you! You would think they’d appreciate knowing up front they can’t meet your salary requirements and not waste everyone’s time.

    1. corp slave*

      Fully agree. I also think up front, it should be a requirement in the ad what the pay, benefits are in detail. Why the guessing game? At least put a range of starting salary and up. I don’t need to know after the 5th interview that the insurance is shit and the pay is 50% less. Same with turnover and overtime hours. I also want to know if everyone and their brother thinks this is a shit company and everyone works until 10pm. Then again, if they were transparent, no one would want to work for them. Perhaps corporate America needs to rethink their whole operating strategy instead of worrying about it after the fact during reviews from the employees saying its’ a shit company and management has these “let’s talk about it and try to fix it’ lies and waste of time.

      Can you tell I’m jaded to corporate?

  51. corp slave*

    The best phone screening interview I ever had was when they said outright ‘Look I don’t want to waste anyone’s time and your resume is quite impressive regarding the companies you worked for. May I ask what your salary requirements are?” I told him and he said “oh wow, this pays 50% less so this isn’t a good fit for either of us.” And I told him “I highly appreciate this up front. Good luck with your search.” Another screening interview ….and it was a sister company of ours…was hiring for a MANAGER position (I am only a senior level regular employee). They saw my current salary via HR and said “well this job isn’t in par with your salary requirements. We are paying $20k less”> I said well is anything else negotiable since I”m losing a pension and built up vacation time (thinking maybe if I can hit them with more vacation and work from home, maybe it’s worth it) and they said “no we are a completely different company.” However, if employees come over from a sister company, we give them all the time they acrued AND the benefits that are listed.

    Such bullshit. I HATE interviewing. It’s all a long-bullshit game. How many people who have nothing to do with the job yet they’re character witnesses do I have to meet with? I don’t need to interview 6 times at a company. Either you want me or not.

Comments are closed.