I’ve been offered the job — but they won’t tell me the salary until we can meet face-to-face

A reader writes:

Last week I received a job offer from a company I interviewed with. The hiring manager called me to verbally offer me the position, then followed it up with an email offer that her boss and HR were copied on. The email let me know that the company’s HR rep would contact me immediately with an offer letter.

I’m excited about the work I would be doing, but am a little concerned because at no point in the hiring process (including on the job posting) did the company reveal the salary range or ask about my desired salary.

The HR rep did contact me and emailed a bunch of standard pre-employment paperwork for me to fill out, but no offer letter, so I replied asking what salary was being offered. She never replied to my email, so a week later I emailed again to follow up on my request, this time asking if she could at least reveal the salary range for the position, even if she couldn’t give a firm answer. Her response was that she “will need to meet with me in person so she can show me the whole package.”

This request is doubly odd because the company is fully aware of the fact that I currently live across the country — I had to fly out for the interview and am moving to their state over the summer. When I reminded her of this and asked if we could get the offer firmed up remotely, she insisted on making an appointment to do a video call with me to “go over the package.”

Am I wrong that this seems like a red flag? I can understand that they extended an offer before discussing salary (even though I don’t think that’s a very good idea), but why are they being so secretive about what they are offering AFTER they have already offered me the job?

I should add that the level this position is at is not at all close to the level where there is a “package” of compensation offered — I would be shocked if anything other than the standard salary/insurance/PTO is even on their radar.

Yeah, it’s a huge red flag. It’s extremely abnormal not to tell you the salary as part of making you an offer — because there is no offer without a specific salary attached to it — and generally people who play games like this and say they want to present it in person are doing that because the offer is terrible and they want to try to sell you on it.

And assuming they’re offering benefits like insurance and paid time off (which does count as a “package”), there’s a decent chance those are bad too, but they’re going to try to sell them to you as “generous” and “highly competitive.”

At this point you should do the video call and find out exactly what the offer is … but when you couldn’t get any info out of the HR rep earlier, it would have been totally okay to contact the hiring manager and say, “I haven’t heard from Jane with the offer letter yet, or the proposed salary. Any chance you can tell me what salary you’re offering so that we can keep moving forward?”

While we’re talking about things you could have done, do not do this again: “A week later I emailed again to follow up on my request, this time asking if she could at least reveal the salary range for the position, even if she couldn’t give a firm answer.” You do not want to imply that you will consider an offer without knowing the actual salary being offered. A range is not okay — not if they intend this as a real offer. You were trying to be accommodating, but you do not want to be accommodating on something like knowing what you would actually be getting paid. (That’s not to chastise you! These situations are weird and anxiety-filled. I just want to make sure you don’t bend too much in future discussions with employers.)

{ 284 comments… read them below }

  1. I GOTS TO KNOW!

    This would raise so many red flags for me. If the are this shady about salary in the offer stage, what else are they likely to be shady about?

    1. YouGottaThrowtheWholeJobAway

      Yeaaaah this has admiral akbar it’s a trap dot gif written all over it. Something is bad here. Would definitely google around for glassdoor etc. to make sure this place is actually making payroll. OP should definitely also just inquire about the pay period and they can gracefully fib and say it’s for their new landlord’s peace of mind….

      1. Falling Diphthong

        I’m picturing someone offering you a hat and free water park tickets if you’ll just sit through their time-share presentation.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger

          This is more like “Sign this blank lease now, and I’ll fill in the rent I’m going to charge you later”! It’s crazy that people would even THINK that this is OK! There’s no contract if you don’t have the terms spelled out!

          1. Wednesday of this week

            Remember the LW who was told “You will find out your pay rate at the end of your first pay period, as it will be reflected in your paycheck”? It’s unbelievable what people think they can get away with!

            1. DerJungerLudendorff

              Is that from this year?
              Because that’s a pretty good competitor for the prestigious Worst Boss Of The Year award!

            2. Helena

              I had a manager once who tried to get me to work a last-minute bank shift (physician overtime to cover rota gaps) by telling me I would be paid “between $20-80 per hour”.

              That’s quite a range. I did not work the bank shift.

    2. Jadelyn

      This is a red flag made of red flags, holding a fistful of smaller red flags, screaming “RED FLAG!”

      OP, whatever you do, do NOT let yourself be bullied or browbeaten into accepting ANYTHING during this video call. No matter WHAT they offer, your answer is “Thanks for letting me know. Can you send that to me in an email, and I’ll take a couple days to think on it and get back to you.” Do NOT agree to ANYTHING until you’ve got something IN WRITING.

      1. wendelenn

        I think someone in an earlier post comment used “enough red flags for a Communist parade”.

        1. DerJungerLudendorff

          Enough red flags for a Soviet parade on Red Square in front of the Chinese embassy on National Day while Mc’Donalds and Coke employees are holding a labour strike flag-waving competition.

    3. Artemesia

      If they had a competitive salary and were proud of it, they would not be keeping it a secret. I am predicting that the meeting will be one where they tell the OP X$, but that turns out to be the cost of salary plus benefits including SS from the employers side and health care and then they pretend that is a good salary when it is below standard and the benefits are also poor. Betterinc across town pays 60K plus benefits and RedflagsRUs is paying 60 K including the cost of benefits. Or maybe they have a probationary salary of nothingmuch but you can go to abitmore at 6 mos after probation is over.

      There is no way this is going to be good so I would go in planning to turn it down flat unless there is a shocking surprise. NO ONE with a good solid offer behaves like this. go in prepared to have the look on your face you want to communicate ‘you have got to be kidding, no a chance.’

      1. iglwif

        I once worked for a place that paid really badly (but did have good benefits), and even that place would not have done this. This has enough red flags to open a nationwide chain of red flag stores.

      2. mark132

        They HAVE to keep it secret otherwise EVERYONE would just overwhelm them taking advantage or the unbelievably GENEROUS offer. (At least that’s what the screaming guy on the radio is saying). /s

        Yep I’m with you. If the offer is generous they are going to lead with it.

      3. Kat in VA

        Yep a lot of places will jerk you around by telling you that the salary + benefits actually totals out to the salary you’re getting…uh, no. No it doesn’t. Now if you want to talk “total compensation”, that’s a little slippery but most of us can do basic math and we’re interested in what’s reflected in our paycheck as our “salary”.

  2. Green

    Some want to say it on the phone because the rest of the package actually IS generous but I’ve never run into anyone who wouldn’t give a top line by email or phone in an offer.

    1. Fortitude Jones

      I got what I thought was a pretty generous benefits package at the company I’m working for now, but they sent all of the benefit details to me when they made me my verbal offer and the salary range was given to me upfront. I’ve never seen a place that truly paid well AND had excellent benefits do what the employer here is doing to the OP – something in the milk isn’t clean.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      Yeah, I wondered if they were misguidedly insisting on doing this verbally so that it’s not in a writing format that’s easily disclosed to others or the public? (Although they should be putting the package in writing, anyway, because a verbal agreement doesn’t adequately protect OP.)

    3. designbot

      I’ve had one job where they insisted on meeting in person for this. The package was actually competitive, it was just a weird quirk about the company. Part of it was that an unusual portion of the package was bonuses vs. salary, so I suppose that’s why they want to get the opportunity to ‘sell’ it.
      That said, I would still never, ever fill out employment paperwork for a company when I didn’t know what my salary would be.

  3. voyager1

    Wow. Maybe there isn’t a salary and you have to buy everything at the company store… /s

    I think I would run from this one LW, even if they tell you the salary. There is no telling what other games this employer plays.

    1. Fortitude Jones

      I would walk away from this too, especially after you had to hunt down the HR rep to even ask for a salary range.

    1. C

      This was one I was definitely like “I can’t wait for the update!” before I read Alison’s advice.

  4. SecondCoffee

    Yikes! This is not only an indicator that the offer is not going to be good, but also an indicator that the work environment is likely to be similarly unprofessional. I bet you will find this cagey behavior every time you request time off, need to use your medical leave, or try to negotiate a promotion.

    1. Sharrbe

      Plus the fact that they’re hiring someone who relocated for them, and therefore less likely to walk away from a terrible workplace situation right away.

      1. fhqwhgads

        It sounds to me not like she’s relocating specifically for them, but rather moving there soon either way, and thus applying for jobs in the new location now from afar.

        1. DerJungerLudendorff

          That’s how I read it too.
          It would be a bit weird to start moving before you’ve even agreed on the salary or received an offer.

  5. College Career Counselor

    Agreed on update! This sounds like a huge low-ball salary + possible great commission!!11!! offer coming down the pike.

    1. SecondCoffee

      And you will make back what you spent out of pocket in no time! The products are such great quality!!!!!

    2. Falling Diphthong

      Or “Because the company pays part of your health insurance premium, you are actually making vast buckets of invisible money that you can’t see. No, don’t look too closely at how comprehensive the health insurance is.”

      1. Czhorat

        This is another point – the health benefits, buy-in for same, PTO, and other items are all part of compensation. An offer is salary, comprehensive information on the benefits package, expected hours, etc. IT’s not just a number (and here you don’t even have the number!)

        1. boo bot

          Not to mention, the bottom-line salary number DOES actually matter – like, fantastic benefits are fantastic, but I can’t pay my rent with health insurance.

          1. animaniactoo

            But you can just go to your bank and ask them for a line of credit for that! /s

          2. Seeking Second Childhood

            Honestly with the copays & cost sharing, some people can’t afford their ‘company provided’ health insurance.

    3. irene adler

      Agreed.
      A friend got the “we don’t have salaries, we offer ‘compensation packages’ “. Whereupon he sat through a long list of benefits and then learned that the salary would be much lower than his current pay.
      Now, some of the benefits were good, like 100% of the healthcare premium was covered. But some were just cheesy. Things like: the chance to work with modern equipment, work in a building that was “esthetically beautiful”, located in a “wonderful ” city (La Jolla), and all the snacks you wished.

      Being very pragmatic, my friend turned them down, explaining that “esthetically beautiful” won’t pay the rent. And neither will the salary they offered.

      1. Zephy

        the chance to work with modern equipment

        What does that even mean? In what field is that a “benefit” and not “a normal and expected feature of a job doing literally anything in the 21st century”? Are there really companies out there where “word processor” still refers to either a piece of machinery with that singular function, or a person?

        1. twig

          My abacus skills are on point, but I’ve been looking for the opportunity to work somewhere that I can learn how to use a slide-rule.

          1. PhDinTraining

            My husband asked what technology and teaching resources a charter school had in a job interview only to have the interviewer give a very long pause and begin to tell him about the copier. So at some places the modern technology of a computer would be a perk.

            1. JJ Bittenbinder

              Given that the copier at my kids’ elementary school not only was kind of crappy, but frequently was out of paper (and none in the building except for bright yellow and orange, for the last six weeks of school), I can kind of see why they mentioned it.

              OK, not really, but…

          2. mark132

            I wish I had an abacus. I have to take off my shoes and socks to do big math. ;-)

        2. CmdrShepard4ever

          When I started my job about 3 years ago, in 2016 my assigned computer was still running windows XP and Office Suite 2003. The first computer my family had ran on XP and Office 2003 back in 2002. So yeah some places modern technology is actually a benefit. Luckily I got a new Windows 7 computer, but we are still on Office 2010.

          1. Scarlet2

            As an aside, I actually preferred Office 2010 to Office 2016. My experience with software is that newer is not always better (I regularly have issues with Outlook 2016 but never had any with 2010). Now Win XP in 2016 is another story since it wasn’t even supported by Microsoft anymore, if memory serves.

          2. Former Employee

            I really liked Windows 7. When I got a new computer, I had to accept Windows 10 because it was the only thing available.

            Ideally, I’d have Windows 7, Word Perfect and Excel. I still mourn the loss of Word Perfect.

            1. Zephy

              I came across a job listing for some kind of admin position that mentioned “proficiency with Word Perfect” in its qualifications. Either they’re looking to replace someone who’s been there for 15 years and didn’t update the posting, or they still, somehow, use Word Perfect.

            2. Cathie from Canada

              Hey, I loved Word Perfect too — WP version 4.2 was, in my opinion, the perfect word processing program.
              You could actually “reveal codes” and then get rid of all of the extraneous coding junk in a document that was messing up the formatting!
              So I guess that’s just something else that The Youngs can use to date us old geezers.

          3. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis

            When I started my first admin role in late 1998 the computers were running Windows 3.1, with LotusNotes and WordPad.
            We were a couple of years into the new millennium before we upgraded… to Windows 95 & a proper Office suite – and I (as the most junior member of the team) got to write the work instructions because I was the only one who had ever USED Windows 95 and Office, back when I was still in high school!
            Yeah, it was actually a government office, but it was the IT branch of government, which just makes me even sadder.

            1. TardyTardis

              And yet Window 3.1 was *still* better than Windows 95 (on a tech call, once called my system Vista 95, and the tech asked, ‘can I use that?’).

        3. Natalie

          My last company was still carrying typewriters as assets, and I saw at least one person using one to make labels. Of course, they also kept their ledger details in paper files only, and had only switched to online benefits enrollment when the insurance company forced them to. So, you know, don’t work in title insurance unless you’re deeply nostalgic.

          1. JustaTech

            Having once spent the better part of a morning running from my desk to the printer and wasting several expensive sheets of labels because our printer suddenly decided it didn’t do that any more, I can see the appeal of the backup typewriter. (Then again, given my atrocious typing, maybe it wouldn’t be better.)

            My high school, back at the turn of the millennium, had a typewriter for seniors to use for college applications for the couple of schools that still expected you to type on a form. It was the only time any of us had ever used a typewriter.

        4. Anomalous Cat

          In one of my previous jobs most employees were working with Windows 95, the supervisors had Windows 98, and they head of IT had Windows XP which had recently come out.

      2. Oh So Very Anon

        “I spoke with my landlord. He declined to accept my rent payment in snacks. Thanks anyway.”

      3. Who Plays Backgammon?

        I once interviewed for a job at a 2-attorney (brothers) firm. Their ad called for someone with a paralegal certificate. They were located on the commercial strip of an affluent suburb. The pay was like entry-level clerical, and they told me with big smiles that there was no health insurance or even paid parking, but the “benefit” was working in this splashy office with a TELESCOPE!!!

        1. General Ginger

          Telescopes are cool and all, and I, for one, wouldn’t mind owning a nice one, but I certainly wouldn’t call it a job benefit in the slightest. Paid parking covered > telescope, any day.

      4. dunstvangeet

        But “all the snacks you can eat” sounds like you can cut your food bill! I can get back at least $300 more in salary per month there! *eyeshift*

    4. That Would be a Good Band Name

      Exactly what I was thinking! I don’t pay my bills on potential earnings or the company’s portion of healthcare!

      1. Jadelyn

        I work at a nonprofit and the higher-ups are occasionally the type to spout that “commitment to the mission should trump money!” BS. At which point I always respond that thus far I’ve been unsuccessful in arranging mortgage payments based on my pride in our mission, which usually shuts them up. Drives me up a wall when they do it, though.

        1. CatMintCat

          Teachers and, I suspect, nurses and social workers as well, hear this all the time. “Do the job for the love of it!” “We’re here for the children!” No. I’m here to earn a living as a university educated professional and deserve to be paid accordingly.

          Sure I enjoy the children, but I like feeding and housing my own too.

          1. Toads, Beetles, Bats

            My friend is an Episcopal priest and you wouldn’t BELIEVE the BS she deals with along these lines. Sounds like most hiring committees get the heebie-jeebies when she even asks about salary, never mind tries to negotiate. You’d think they were expecting God to pay her rent or something.

          2. DerJungerLudendorff

            Strangely enough “It’s all about the children/patients/job” is never followed by “therefore we invest large amounts of money and effort in their educators/caretakers/the people doing the job, because they are the ones actually doing all the important work we keep harping on about”.

            1. DataGirl

              AMEN. Healthcare: Where the people who actually care for the patients constantly get their pay and benefits cut* and the execs who do the cutting get 6-7 figure bonuses for making those cuts.

              *Unless there is an MD after your name, in which case you can be totally incompetent but still showered with cash**

              **yes, I’m bitter.

          3. wittyrepartee

            It’s all such tiring work too. You know what you can do with extra money? Get someone to do your laundry and cook for you so that you can plan your lessons/do your charting/sleep and come in the next day refreshed.

  6. PJ

    I wouldn’t even want to rely on a video call/chat.

    They need to send you the salary offer, IN WRITING. If they are unwilling to put it in writing, that’s a huge red flag and you should flee as if the building is on fire.

    1. gladfe

      Yeah, I’ve accepted jobs without a written offer before, but the stubbornness here is weird. I’d worry they don’t want to put it in writing because they’re planning a bait-and-switch.

      1. RUKiddingMe

        Yup. How is she supposed to know she’s willing to take the job if she doesn’t know what the “package” is?

        The last “I really need (any) a job right now” job I took they had a firm $X for people in the position coming in. I reiterate…I needed the job. The hiring manager was super apologetic about the pay and promised me a 25% raise after sixty days.

        I took that promise with an entire mountain of salt and accepted. I was stunned, stunned(!!!) I tell you when I actually got the 25% raise at 45 days. So things *do* happen, just usually (I’m gonna go ahead and make my own statistic and say 95% of the time) it’s BS…*

        *I just realized that “bullshit” and “bait and switch” are both “BS.” Coincidence…?

            1. Zephy

              …Would that be salsa made for butterflies (imagining butterflies holding teeny tiny chips to dip in it and it’s vv cute), or salsa made of butterflies (this mental image is considerably less cute)?

            2. CMart

              I wish there was a “like” type-feature, because this is incredibly funny but not really inviting of much of a response.

    2. animaniactoo

      Ditto. Everything about “Need to go over it with you face to face” screamed “I don’t want to write it anywhere that it could be used as evidence.”

      Personally, I think I would ask if it would be okay if I recorded the video-chat so that I could refer back to it later if I had any questions.

      And if they said no to that, okay, I’m gonna take the video-chat because my curiosity will NOT let me rest without knowing wtf the actual shadiness going on here is. But there’s a 98% probability that I’m not taking the job and a 100% probability that I’m not taking it if they aren’t willing to include whatever details are discussed – INCLUDING the specific salary – in a written form somewhere along the way before I get started on anything.

      That’s like “Nope, I’m not filling out any pre-employment paperwork or anything else here until we’ve determined that I actually *will* take this job… which is dependent on knowing all the details about what the job offers me. All. The. Details.”

      1. JJ Bittenbinder

        I’m gonna take the video-chat because my curiosity will NOT let me rest without knowing wtf the actual shadiness going on here is.

        Oh, god, me too. And I’m really hoping OP feels the same way AND is inclined to update us, because I really gotta know.

    3. Kix

      Part of me wonders if it’s not just an HR rep being really anal about following process. I’ve worked with people who will not deviate from a process no matter how hard you pinch their pinky toe with a pair of pliers. I’d do the video call, and if the offer is acceptable, insist upon a written offer letter within 24 hours.

      1. Sharon

        Maybe but it’s pretty common practice to give the salary verbally over the phone and then follow up with it in an offer letter. If this company has a different process that’s still a red flag.

  7. GreenDoor

    This is very bizarre. Why do they need a face to face to go over a package when it’s just at the offer stage. It should be a simple matter of “we’re offering you the position of Teapot Specialst at a salary of X which includes Benefits A, B, and C.” I would definately see a red flag if they wanted to dive into the nitty-gritty details of this package without even knowing whether you accept.

    I’d agree to the video conference but if they ask you to jump through any more hoops without giving you the relevant information you need, I’d say, “While I”m excited about the opprtunity, I have been exploring other opportuntites and I cannot move forward with you until I have a written offer that includes the salary and benefits package.” And then don’t do anything more.

  8. The New Wanderer

    Definitely a red flag that they will offer you a job but won’t tell you the salary without some kind of visual conversation, that does not seem normal at all (though I think there’s been at least one letter where the writer only found out the salary after starting the job?). It very much sounds like they plan to wow you with the appearance of a great offer without actual substance, by stressing the non-benefit “benefits” of working there over the actual compensation. Otherwise why avoid the question and require a real-time discussion?

    If it were my situation, I’d determine what the absolute minimum salary is that I would accept for a job that requires* a cross country move (assuming you’d only be moving for the job), the specific position, and the new local cost of living. And I’d go into the video call with the assumption that they won’t even be close on salary. If there are any benefits that you’d accept in lieu of a lower base salary, have those explicitly written out too. Like, minimum salary – 10% is worth 6 weeks paid vacation and no-cost medical insurance, or something like that. Not so much so that you can negotiate, but to have a strict bottom line that you can’t be cajoled out of. Also, I’d shut down any talk of non-compensation benefits that they might sell that are just window dressing. Kitten-snuggling Fridays are great, but not worth trading actual cash for.

    1. Falling Diphthong

      But won’t tell you the salary without some kind of visual conversation.

      I am definitely picturing Kaa with the spiraling eyes. He knew not to try to suffocate anyone via email.

        1. Anonymouse

          Combine that with Taco Thursday and we are beginning to see a real compensation plan.

        2. Zephy

          My workplace is down the street from an animal shelter that allows the public to come in and snuggle their kittens without having to meet with an adoption counselor first. Does…does that mean I already get Kitten-Snuggling Friday? Man, between that and the unlimited Starbucks coffee for just $100/year*, my benefits package is looking choice.

          (*the company sells you a travel mug every year in August, and you can fill it with coffee or soda at the on-site coffee shop as you please)

          1. TardyTardis

            With that kind of cost for coffee, I’d bring my own in from work–I’m one of those heathens whose taste buds think the taste of microwave heated coffee is perfectly all right.

  9. I Want To Go To There

    Super shady. I wouldn’t give an inch until I know EXACTLY what’s in their package, and EXACTLY what they’re going to be paying you. Sounds like one of those companies that you see advertised on Craigslist where it’s a “Rock-n-Roll FUN Company!”

  10. RJ the Newbie

    I wouldn’t fill out one form until you have confirmed salary for this role. OP, major red flag! Please update your story when you can.

    1. BRR

      Yeah don’t fill out anything. I can’t really think of a good outcome when an employer overlooks salary as part of an offer.

      1. RUKiddingMe

        I think if she has any other options, any at all, including not working for a bit then she should maybe not accept. I think most UI will pay even if you quit if you move “X” or more miles. Generally there needs to be a reason you moved (spouse’s job, job you accepted fell through, etc.) but if I were OP that’s definitely something I’d be looking at.

  11. Tuna

    I would be extra concerned if this was a sales job — all comp no base and they want to spin that hardddd.

  12. NW Mossy

    Yeah, this kind of approach only makes sense if there’s some significant part of the offer that is going to make good candidates cringe if they read it in black and white. I’d suspect something like way-below-par benefits (like a complete absence of health insurance or very limited PTO), an unusual compensation structure (like low salary + bonus/commission for a role where that’s not the norm), or straight-up low pay.

    They want to put context on it to explain why they’re doing something radically different from other companies they compete with for staff, which is kind of a mixed thing. There might be a legitimate set of reasons why this company compensates people differently, but it’s somewhat more likely that they haven’t yet twigged to the fact that their esoteric practices aren’t an industry norm for a reason.

    1. RUKiddingMe

      Removed because off-topic (along with the long off-topic thread that resulted about modems, poverty, and budgeting).

      1. Case of the Mondays

        Are you my roommate? She’s ALWAYS complaining to or about Comcast Xfinity service.

      2. TooTiredToThink

        Sometimes you can shell out the $10/mo for the rental fee but coming up with the $80-$90 for a halfway decent modem isn’t quite so feasible.

        1. Anon7

          Also, because then who’s going to fix it if/when it breaks? If you own it, then it’s on you to fix it. I dunno about y’all, but I am A. not tech savvy enough to do it myself, and B. broke enough that taking it to a professional repair person is out of the question.

          1. That Would be a Good Band Name

            You don’t really fix them. You get new. I suppose maybe they can be fixed but I’ve never had one that broke when it wasn’t outdated and in need of upgrading anyway. But, if you have to use comcrap then you might as well use their modem because they’ll just slow down or stop your service every few weeks and keep telling you that it’s a “problem with your modem” until you give up and get theirs.

            1. RUKiddingMe

              Pretty much this. I’ve had my own modem, a few times actually and when it’s slow it’s always my modem even though I have the exact same problem with their modems.

              1. That Girl From Quinn's House

                Yes, this. If you’re not using their router, they’ll say, “Oh well you’re losing connection because your router is bad!” Even if your connection is bad because they’ve, say, split a single drop between 25 apartments so you’re all sharing one bandwidth. (AHEM Comcast Boston.)

        2. ArtsNerd

          It’s expensive to be poor. Wealthier people have the cash flow flexibility to spend more money at once on a better deal vs. having to pay way more in smaller chunks over time. Internet is a basic utility, not a luxury (as some folks would put it.)

          1. Just Employed Here

            No, I understand very well that paying for stuff in smaller chunks may be necessary, even if the up front cost would be cheaper.

            However, if I understood the post I replied to correctly, it was about a streaming service, which definitely isn’t a basic utility.

            Also, even if internet at home is really necessary (ie there are no other options to get a reasonable level of connectedness: sharing wifi with a neighbour, using mobile options, using internet at the library, etc.) $10/month versus a one time charge of less than 10 times that is really, really shitty value. That’s really living on the edge of one’s budget, and calls for radical measures, before some tiny setback will make one lose a lot more than just the stupid internet connection.

            1. alphabet soup

              The streaming service they were referring to was some upsell that Comcast was trying to get them to buy, that they weren’t interested in, because they just wanted to get their modem fixed.

              And yes, for lots of folks, internet at home is necessary. I didn’t have home internet for a number of years, because my budget really was so tight that I couldn’t afford it. And it made life really difficult. It made it difficult to do research for school, keep up with the latest developments in my field (design), stay in touch with friends, and enjoy being in my home (since I didn’t have streaming music or shows to watch).

              I worked during regular business hours, which is when libraries tend to be open. Cafes have wifi, but you have to buy something. Spending $2-3 on coffee 3-4x a week adds up, and is probably close to what you’d pay for home internet service anyway. My mobile phone plan is one of the cheapest you can get in the US (I regularly do research to make sure I’m getting the best deal), but it being cheap comes with trade-offs, such as, I only get 4 gigs of data, and that doesn’t include a hotspot that can be used for laptops. And nope, I don’t trust any of my neighbors enough to share wifi with them (sharing a network leaves you open to security risks).

              And while, yes, I was able to survive without home internet, it made me feel really disconnected from the world. Finally being able to afford home internet was a huge relief– it made me feel so much less isolated from my family, friends, the world.

              Sorry to go super off-topic, but it really bothers me when folks think it’s okay to police the financial decisions of poor people. Sometimes it feels like there’s this expectation that if you’re poor, all you’re allowed to do is go to work and come home and sit in an empty room and stare at the wall, because almost every single purchase you make gets scrutinized. “Oh, if you’re so poor, how can you afford a smartphone/new shoes/television/avocado toast/a coffee/etc? Those purchases must be the reason you’re broke.”

            2. Just Employed Here

              I’m not policing decisions of poor people, I’m merely pointing out the fact that if you can’t (ever!) afford a one-off payment of $80–$90, then you can’t afford to be on the hook for $10 every single month. (I know the actual prices depend on the area — my posts relate specifically to the figures quote by other posters above.) Even if the service would indeed be vital. Which, to be honest, internet isn’t, not like electricity or running water — it’s very useful and important, but not vital, as your own example describes.

              My list of possible solutions above was not exhaustive (hence the “etc.”). Not everyone can have sandwiches, but that doesn’t automatically lead to “I will buy this thing I can’t afford anyway”.

              I’m merely advocating doing exactly what you describe doing: Manage without, if uncomfortably, for a while (not long, according to the prices mentioned), and then get the service and enjoy not having a monthly payment.

              If people spend money they don’t have, or within $90 of what they have, that is literally a reason they are broke. Maybe not the only reason, but certainly a reason. It doesn’t matter whether the money is spent on avocado, internet access, or whatever. It’s none of my business what people spend their money on, but it’s no use trying to pretend one’s own spending decisions are somehow immune to mathematics.

      3. RUKiddingMe

        I prefer to rent one because if there’s something wrong with it, and that would be the issue, it’s not like we’re “playing ball in the house” and knocking stuff over or anything (cats not withstanding) so it’s not as if we’re damaging it physically. We’re just two middle aged people with five middle aged to elderly cats and we’re all lazy and tired making it preferable to outsource anything that can be outsourced: lawn care, house cleaning, grocery delivery….modem maintenance. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        1. Janet

          We are also middle aged, tired and lazy, with two cats …we use our money to pay people to do the things we don’t want to do. Grateful that we can.

        2. CmdrShepard4ever

          You know your situation best and this is more a general PSA for owning your modem.

          But I have had the same modem for about 6 years now. Initial cost was around $70/80.

          I have used it with three different cable companies in two different states NY and IL. Rhymes with time earner, crapcast, and RCM. All three charge about $7 per month to rent the modem. After about 12 months you breakeven or save money.

          About 99% of the time modem issues can be solved by completely disconnecting it waiting a minute and plugging everything back in.

          Even if you buy a new one every two years you still save money.

  13. 2horseygirls

    “We are at the point in this process where it is appropriate to discuss the salary and benefits for this position. If that is not possible, then we may be at an impasse. Can you commit to providing a formal written offer including salary and benefits by Date and Time?”

    Best to set boundaries now. As my husband says, start out as you mean to go. They need to be aware that dancing around is not how you conduct yourself professionally.

    1. PollyQ

      Nicely put, and good advice all around.

      I don’t know if I’d quite have the courage/sang froid to flatly decline the offer and walk away at this point, but I’d be dang tempted to do so.

    1. The Original K.

      Yep. Companies that compensate well don’t hide it. I bet $5 that the salary and/or benefits are well below market value.

      1. That Girl From Quinn's House

        I worked somewhere with tons of red flags where, every time I logged into the HR software my compensation amount had changed. I agreed to X, then I checked online and found it listed as X+4,000, then the next time I found X+2,000, and my paystubs/W-2s had X+3,000 on them.

        I also found out that they had deliberately hid from me that they did not give raises, until I’d been there a few months. The reason I know they’d deliberately hid this from me is that my staff were asking me where their raises were, and each time I brought the issue up, it was punted. “Oh they got adjusted in December before you came.” Three or four times until someone sheepishly said, “Um, well, the reason they didn’t get raises is we don’t give raises.”

        The place was a DISASTER. RUN LW RUN.

      1. Kesnit

        Normally MLMs recruit on more personal basis. Not to say all MLMs work that that, or this isn’t an MLM, just that this does not fit the pattern for an MLM.

  14. Sled dog mama

    This is totally bizarre. I mean maybe if the company has never actually hired anyone before there might be a reason (not a good reason) they think this is normal.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch

      I cringed…especially since they want to talk face to face, so they can do the “You’re a small business owner and YOU are the driver of how much you make! YOU CAN MAKE MILLIONS selling our essential oils!!!!!!!!!!!!”

      1. LITbluejay

        This is 100% off topic, but I see you comment here all the time, and I just wanted to say that your username/pic puts a giant grin on my face every time. All hail Becky Two Belts!!!

  15. TN INFP

    This is so weird and shady! I HAVE to get an update on this ASAP.

    OP if your’e reading, let us know how it turned out!

  16. LaDeeDa

    Hmmm, this is very odd. I think if they have a good market value offer then there would be no hesitation to tell you what the offer is. I feel like there is something there that they want to explain and not have you just read. It doesn’t sound like you have accepted the offer yet, which is a good thing. No way should you accept or move forward until you have the full picture. I hope it is just a weird thing they do and the offer is a solid one!
    I look forward to an update!

    1. Zephy

      Ehh, even if the offer is a solid one, they’re probably dysfunctional AF in other important ways, too. Up to OP if they want to be part of that particular circus; personally, I wouldn’t, especially given that taking this job will involve a cross-country move.

    2. Kat

      That’s exactly what I was thinking too. They know what they have to offer is bad and so they want to sell it in person or via video chat as well as strong arm the LW into accepting it or badger them to disclose any concerns they may have so they can argue against their concerns. That’s so not ok. People deserve the chance to look at all the facts of an offer on paper on their own time and make their decision without feeling under the gun to give an immediate response.

  17. BRR

    I’d very likely pass on any offer. I’d also very likely be willing to burn this bridge and take the video call and call them out on this or respond via email with “the business normal of a written offer is fine with me.”

  18. Blue Dog

    They are going to try to get OP to accept on the spot and, if OP wants time to think about it, threaten to withdraw the offer.

    1. OhNo

      Ooh, I bet this is it. Lowball offer plus high-pressure tactics, to try and force the OP into making a split-second decision that’s not in their best interest. Sounds like a recipe for a deeply dysfunctional workplace.

  19. Construction Safety

    I guess the range question would be OK if they came back & said $60-$65k.

    Not so OK if they came back & said $30-$60k.

    FWIW, in construction, we have the number within about 5 minutes from the start of the first convo. No one’s time gets wasted.

    1. MassMatt

      Something like this happened to me, and I was an internal candidate, and at a very large company! Supervisor gave a presentation asking for people to join a new but existing/expanding team. Gave a LONG list of requirements, licenses, etc etc. Someone asked what’s the compensation, you are demanding a lot for applicants to even be considered for a position. Her answer was “it’s grade 12”, that’s it.

      I spent over an hour asking people in HR what that meant. Several people claimed our company doesn’t USE grades, there are salary bands. I pointed out that our own internal website hade grades for jobs. Finally I was told that corresponds to $16,000 to $64,000. Umm, thanks?

      1. Zephy

        What…what kind of bananacrackers system did your company use?? The “grade 12” salary band had a range of $48,000 between the high and low ends, with the lowest end being barely above the poverty line for a single person (and well below it for a family)?

        1. The Original K.

          That is BONKERS. And if that’s grade 12, what’s the low end of, say, grade 5? You owe THEM money?

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Same in manufacturing. We list the salary band in the posting, then we ask the person [since so many people don’t actually read a posting completely] what their desired salary/wage is during the phone screen because like you said, it wastes everyone’s time otherwise.

      Granted here you have to put salary/per hour in your offer letter because of labor laws that require transparency and to avoid those shady MFers who will hire you at $35 an hour! and then suddenly when you get your first check, it’s not the same amount “oh you must have misheard.” Or I’ve seen some construction/laborers who are screwed in terms of wages because they’re told “We pay $20 an hour!” and then they start deducting equipment or some nonsense and you really are only taking home $15. Or you get let go within the first week and your check is at a different wage, etc. *barf* So the state made a law requiring you put it in writing and if you don’t pay up, that’s wage theft.

      1. Lucille2

        Reminds me of a retail job I had in college. I had taken the job believing I would be making $2/hour more than what was my actual hourly wage. I found the discrepancy on my first paycheck. When I asked, my manager told me that was my base hourly wage but I was eligible for commission and would be making more money in no time! I never made more money.

        Had another job as a hotel housekeeper that had a (decent for the time) hourly wage or piece rate. If a housekeeper cleaned over a certain number of rooms per shift, then they could make a rate based on the number of rooms cleaned which was more than the hourly wage. I busted my ass to get piece rate only to find there were all kinds of exceptions that made it near impossible to make more than hourly wage. I think it’s best to learn the shady compensation selling points while young before the stakes are too high.

        1. Just Employed Here

          Or, you know, to outlaw shady compensation practices and enfore those laws?

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch

            The sad thing is that laws are regularly unenforced or hard to get the corrective action agency that would be in charge of getting the fines/penalties and changes enforced involved. Welcome to an over burdened system that we have!

            So it’s important to also learn how to protect yourself, now these scams exist and how to sniff them out before becoming their victim. It’s awful and I too believe that the existing or future legislature is important but the world isn’t ideal like that.

            1. Just Employed Here

              But the post above seems to suggest that learning about these things the hard way while young is the best. Being aware of these things is indeed important, but *the hard way* surely can’t be the best.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch

          This happens in some shady transportation companies as well when they claim to pay per mile, despite the fact you still cap out with DOT regulations. It’s why you see a lot of semis going breakneck speeds, they’re not paid by the hour and are taking the risk of traffic violations to get paid.

          A lot of serving jobs want to play up their tips as well and oh dear, just so happens you get a bogus base wage [in a state without servers wages even] and even worse, you get limited hours and the less lucrative shifts until you “earn” the better shifts that are never vacant it turns out because hey, they have great tips [and that’s the only way to pay your bills].

  20. A Person

    Maybe the salary depends on what benefits you’d be willing to give up? Like they’ll pay you more if you decline the health insurance?

    Even if that’s it, it’s still terrible! A company that can’t afford to offer a fair salary AND benefits to its employees is one to be avoided.

      1. CmdrShepard4ever

        My partner was able to negotiate a higher salary because they went from a job that was 100% employer paid, to the new job where they had to pay a monthly premium. But about 4 months after they started they were able to join my employer insurance plan that is also 100% employer paid. If my partner switched jobs again I would encourage them to negotiate a higher salary in exchange for not using insurance.

        1. Dontlikeunfairrules

          My company offers $2,500 per year to people who choose not to join the company healthcare plan, but since my premium on the company plan is $680 per month (~$8k per year) and the company pays 100% of the premium, it’s a better deal to go on the plan (unless you have coverage through a spouse or something, obviously.)

    1. Evan Þ.

      Having the bottom line depend on that isn’t necessarily terrible – here at Very Big Company I get a few bonuses along the lines of “~$20/month if I decline the athletic equipment reimbursement plan, etc.” Though, not being willing to give a figure – or even a range like “$N to $N+10,000 depending on what benefits you choose” – is terrible.

    2. Jessie the First (or second)

      Well, in the US there are some IRS laws/regulations relating to when and how you can pay employees to opt out of health insurance that the employer offers and how many people you need to offer health insurance to (so a company wouldn’t be likely to just offer a higher salary right off the rip at offer time in exchange for declining insurance). For retirement type benefits, they need to have a lot of people participate, especially non-highly compensated people, because of various ERISA requirements. And for other benefits – like, I don’t know, generic “wellness” type benefits like reimbursement for gym memberships and that sort of thing, that’d be a small amount that really wouldn’t make a difference.

      It is almost certainly just shady behavior/unwillingness to admit to what is a crappy salary.

  21. Zephy

    Maybe OP was offered a position managing a certain cursed apartment complex in the southeastern US.

    Really though, this company is being Super Weird and OP should probably pass on whatever offer they do come up with. There’s probably no version of this story that ends with OP at a functional workplace and receiving fair compensation.

    1. Happy Lurker

      I see what you did here… The crazy squirrels and bees will be listed as an entertainment perk.

  22. The Man, Becky Lynch

    This isn’t just a huge red flag, this is a red-flag ribbon dance through the streets to me. “Trust ussssss, it’s greaaaaaat, you’ll love it, no need to know anything about that pesky money thing right now! Accept us. Join us. Join us.”

    This is not normal practice, there is never a reason unless you’re shady AF and want to use strong-arm tactics and try to pressure someone into a really low-ball offer/”package”.

  23. Falling Diphthong

    The job is actually as an agent of SHIELD (or AEGIS) but for security reasons they can’t reveal that. The salary is actually quite high due to the high likelihood of fighting a giant robot.

    1. Putting Out Fires, Esq.

      I was gonna say Men in Black and the health insurance coverage was outstanding because you are going to be exposed to so many alien illnesses. The trick is that you don’t exist as a legal person any more, so money is irrelevant.

      1. Auntie Social

        I was going to say “The In-Laws”: “The benefits are terrific. The trick is not to get killed. That’s really the key to the benefit program.”

  24. Alfonzo Mango

    OP please do not give them any of your personal information! Do not fill out that paperwork!

    1. MassMatt

      There certainly are schemes where “candidates” are lured to apply for non-existent jobs as a ruse to get their info and contact info of people they know. I believe we have seen letters here where this happened. These are usually cattle-call style “interviews” though, not sure this one fits that MO. But yeah I wouldn’t want a company doing this to have any of my info.

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

        Or, MassMatt, they are lured into applying for what they think is a great job – then get there and find out it’s a LOUSY job. And a different one than what they applied for. WAY-yyy- back in the 1970s, I spent the first two years of my career as a computer operator – and natch, very few want to do that forever, it should be a stepping stone to programming or some other technical endeavor.

        I cannot remember the number of ads I answered – and went to inteviews – only to find out that it WASN’T a programmer trainee position after all but “oh boy once you’re in here, maybe perhaps gee golly you can write your own ticket!” Yeah, right, that’s why you had to lure me in here under false pretenses.

        And yes – headhunters, especially, used to post non-existent positions so they might collect resumes, and contact info.

        I offer as a reference for bait/switch personnel moves = the movie “The Company Men.” I could have written that one.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch

      This is a great point.

      You shouldn’t be getting pre-hire paperwork anyways until you’ve accepted the offer, that’s sketchy and I can see why it set off an identity theft flag in your mind.

      1. Your friendly Claims adjuster

        But if it’s just a scam for identify theft, there’s no reason to hide a fictional salary offer.

  25. Sara without an H

    Ummm…I wouldn’t schedule the movers just yet, OP, unless you want to move to this location for reasons other than this job. These people are either shifty, or they expect you to work for “passion,” rather than salary.

    Take that video call (we’d love an update on that), but do not take anything the HR director says as an “offer” until it’s confirmed in writing.

    And if this is how they hire, how do you suppose their other operations are run? Be skeptical.

    1. Falling Diphthong

      FWIW, I interpreted moving this summer as moving regardless, trying to set up a new job beforehand.

      1. Sara without an H

        Could be. And I can understand the appeal of having a job already lined up, but I’d still advise OP to be skeptical about this one.

  26. Butter Makes Things Better

    This happened to me on a much smaller scale (person was a former mentor and colleague, on friendly terms with, asking me to coffee to pitch me freelance at their startup), but yeah, I suspect Alison is right! I asked several times via email and over the phone so we wouldn’t be wasting each other’s time. They dodged and didn’t answer. Indeed, at coffee, they spent a good 45 minutes selling me on the company and then offering 25%-33% of what I would normally make on such a project.

    Still friendly with them and actually sent a friend to work for them, but I made sure she knew the pay first thing!

  27. MassMatt

    That they were demanding you come to meet with them to find out the compensation when they were aware you were across the country makes it even more bizarre.

    I agree with other comments, the most likely reasons for this are either that the compensation stinks and they feel they are more likely to “sell” it to you with some kind of song and dance in person or they plan a bait and switch. Conversations in person or Skype are easily denied.

    I know someone that fell for this sort of thing (in a conversation with someone he met at a party, not a job interview), got talked into a pitch for Amway.

  28. Hiya

    Definitely say you won’t be filling out any paperwork until you get the full benefits IN WRITING. You can go ahead and do the call but say there is no job offer until you see it in writing so you won’t waste their or your time until you see it.

  29. Lizzy May

    This screams low salary. The generous read is they know that and think a conversation will help sell it. The less generous read is they hope people will resign from their current position before seeing the actual numbers and be stuck needing to take a job they would otherwise turn down.

  30. Binky

    The one thing I’m wondering that would make this more of a yellow flag, is whether this is an inexperienced/incapable HR person and not reflective of the company more broadly. I’d reach out to the hiring manager to explain the difficulties you’re facing and get a number from them. If they can’t/won’t give you basic salary offer details, and think this all is normal, then you’ve got a super red flag.

    Something about the way the HR person is described really strikes me as flustered/overly rigid more than actively trying to conceal something.

    1. Zephy

      “Inexperienced HR rep” is a very generous read of the situation, but tbh that still doesn’t bode well for OP.

  31. WellRed

    I wouldn’t have even gotten on the plane for the interview without a salary range. How did this go this far? What else is this company hiding?

    1. facepalm

      It might have been worth it to the OP as a free scouting trip for housing or to get to know the area a bit before their move. But it’s still nuts

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch

      When I was interviewing out of town, I was stacking interviews up! So I wouldn’t make a special trip for these jabronis but I would certainly go check them out if I were in town for the other interviews, you know?

  32. Lizr

    I just had something similar come up and the “benefit” was a 9/80 work schedule. This is when you work 8 9-hour days and 1 8-day and get every other Friday off. This can be good if you are non-exempt, but as an exempt employee it oftens mean they just want you to work a 10 hour day every day and your Friday off mysteriously never quite works out because of how your deliverables are set up. Their Glassdoor reviews from exempts were scathing.

    1. Zephy

      That…doesn’t sound like a benefit, but “consistent weekly schedule” and “plenty of notice for schedule changes” are on my personal list of must-haves for all future jobs.

      1. Not All

        It’s really common in a lot of federal government offices where it may take 9 hrs to get to a site for field work, do your thing, and get back to the office but we start running up against driving restrictions at 10 hrs (depending on agency). It’s a great benefit for a lot of us. Having a weekday every other week that you can schedule appointments or do short little 3-day weekend get aways without having to use leave is very helpful…especially when you’re just starting out and don’t have a lot of leave saved up! It’s a completely predictable schedule as implemented in government jobs. (I personally prefer maxiflex where I can work my 80 hrs whenever works other than needing to be in for core hours, but if you like predictability, this is a great one!)

        1. Bryce

          Back around 2004 I worked at a government contractor that did 9/80. The thing is, their intent was “skeleton crew in every department every Friday” but things were so collaborative that groups would all be on the same a/b schedule or they couldn’t get anything done. Also, we somehow managed to have only 25% of folks there on any given Friday…

          I don’t know the official reason it was done away with, but scuttlebutt was that a visiting bigwig noticed HR was empty one day.

    2. Putting Out Fires, Esq.

      9/80s aren’t inherently bad. My husband works one and he really does work it (he’s off this Friday, for example) and he even gets his “Friday” moved if it falls on a holiday (so he gets Wednesday before thanksgiving, for example.) it’s long days but having a weekday off every other week makes running our house a lot easier.

      That being said, it has to actually work out. His entire company is on that schedule, and if he came in on his Friday off, he’d be the only one in his office there.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch

        Yeah, different schedules certainly work well for a lot of different people! I know that I’ve had plenty of people who adore their 4/10 schedule, so they pack in all their work in 4 days but get a 3 day weekend every week. So I can see it working nicely to have 8 days at 9 hours and one day at 8hrs then have that alternating Friday off.

        Every schedule can be abused sadly. Like the one time I was exempt, I started out with a decent schedule, just about exactly 40hrs of work a week and enough time to take a lunch even! Then the strip down started to happen, layoffs came and work was just shoveled on me because “hey you’re exempt and cost us nothing extra, so yeah we’re gonna need you to come in on Saturday and do a couple tradeshows too so you know…all hands on deck, maaaaaan.” At the same piddly salary [it was fair enough for the original job but when you’re piled high with the workload of 3 people at times, it’s peanuts and broken down by hour, I was making as much as my reports according to the math…and they were paid not enough after all was said and done]. Blaaaaaaaah

        But yeah, now everyone who is salary at our firm now is very much in a better situation, they can actually have shorter than 40 hour weeks and rarely there’s a 45 hour week and nothing more than that. Even our exec only works over 45 hours when they’re traveling or there’s an emergency, which is rare since you know, we’ve got our stuff together.

      2. Dontlikeunfairrules

        I guess I worked what would be considered a 10/100 schedule when I worked in entertainment for over 2 decades….10 hour days (minimum), 5 days a week, every week of the year but the 2 vacation weeks allotted….

        We just called it Hell – The Talent Agency Years.

        At least I was making enough to live off of and not <$28,000 a year like the poor (literally and figuratively) assistants who worked there (and had wayyyy longer days than me).

    3. Definitely here for the money

      My boss just requires 50 hours a week from exempt employees. It’s super fun and I love it (hope that was dripping in sarcasm enough?)

    4. Hamburke

      I worked at a fed job that did this only in the summer though (never understood this – summer was the busy season, work trickled in the winter bc it’s hard to sample frozen water). They offered either Mondays or Fridays and signed up a/b for the season. If you needed a one-off different week, you could usually find someone to swap with.

  33. hbc

    Possibilities:
    1) Scamola.
    2) One or more aspects of their package are so off-putting that they need to prep you for it, explain, justify, cajole, and otherwise get you to believe something that would not be believable in the form of written words and numbers.
    3) They’re paranoid about proof of what they pay getting out for some reason.

    None of these are good. I’d do the VC just to see what it is, but this is pretty bad behavior on their part.

  34. Mrs. Smith

    Have you already personally met *everyone* with whom you might have a salary conversation? I mention that because clearly, you’ve already interviewed, but . . . if there’s someone working behind the scenes who controls salary, like HR or a CFO or some other entity, and he or she has not actually met you in person, I wonder if they’re trying to suss out if you’re a young person who would settle for X, or an older person who’s going to demand Y, if you follow me. Maybe I’m being illogical, but humans are shady like that sometimes and other than the MLMs and timeshares that other commenters have wisely pointed out, the only thing I can land on is physical appearance and how that’s tied to salary. Yuck.

  35. Amber Rose

    This reminds me of Cult Chiropractor, the place near where we used to live that refused to tell husband what they charge until he agreed to show up to a presentation with his wife. So I went out of curiosity, and then they locked us in a room with a bunch of people and tried The Leader style brainwashing about THE EEEEEVIL of modern medicine. You see, we could leave any time, they just didn’t want us to be interrupted.

    At the end we still didn’t know what the charges would be, just that they would be worth it.

    I smell fish, OP. And I don’t live near any water.

    1. L.S. Cooper

      Whaaaaaaaaaat. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?? Absolute malarky.
      At least you got a good story out of the wasted time, right?

      1. Amber Rose

        Oh, it was hilarious. I didn’t feel like I was in danger or anything. I was a little creeped out by the way the dude was getting people to like, finish his sentences and stuff, but it was all so ridiculous that I had a hard time not laughing myself out of the room.

    2. facepalm

      I went to a chiropractor once who had a great reputation but refused to take any new patients until they sat through his presentation about the evils of modern medicine as well. There was even a video. It was more about his personal inferiority complex about his family full of doctors and him being “only a chiropractor.” Fascinating, but nuts.

      1. Amber Rose

        Yep, we watched a video too. Dude was really hung up on this idea that birth control was the ultimate evil and was killing all the women or something. Completely bonkers.

  36. Can't Sit Still

    My guess is that the role is suddenly a contractor/temporary worker/contingent worker/buzzword of the day for “not a company employee” role.

  37. Cymru

    Before this call check what other companies are paying in the area, and do not accept without learning the salary.
    Even if you’re on unemployment, you can turn down a job without losing benefits (at least in Canada) if you can prove that the job was untenable. This would include not knowing the pay/salary of the job at the offer stage, and goes double if you have to move out of your geographical region for the job itself.

  38. Justin

    I recently saw an ad for a job saying “industry standard” salary. Which isn’t even the obfuscation of “competitive.”

    So yeah, look, trying to swindle people into low salaries is just not a great way to start off. If it’s low, it’s low, maybe they don’t have much money. But don’t hide it.

    Don’t work there if you have any other choices!

      1. TootsNYC

        given that the phrase is actually “commensurate with experience,” the “commiserate” is especially funny.

        Because once we’ve had the experience, we have something to commiserate with one another about!

  39. CM

    Agree with everyone else, just wanted to add — this situation seems ripe for them to pressure you for an immediate acceptance. No matter what they say, tell them thanks for the information and you’ll need time to think it over.

  40. OP

    Hi everyone!

    First of all, thank you so much to Alison for answering my question and to everyone who commented with advice!

    So after the letter there was even more game playing from HR. We set up the call and the HR rep cancelled once, claiming that her boss couldn’t come up with an offer until I filled in a couple missing fields from the employment application (one that they supposedly had to have was my current salary). I did that and the call was rescheduled, but she tried to cancel AGAIN, this time saying that I needed to complete an hour and a half long preemployment questionnaire that included everything from my attitudes toward work to my ability to do basic math.

    At that point I pushed back, asking if the salary was dependent on the results of the test. She said no, and I said that I must know the details of the offer before investing any more time in the process.

    So after all that…. the salary/benefits were average. Given the research that I did on comparable salaries in the area, I think it was a reasonable but not particularly competitive offer. The HR lady did take a crack at me in the conversation about how she “knew that the salary was something I was concerned with” (of course I was!!)

    1. ArtK

      Glad you dodged that bullet. Clearly this company thinks a great deal of themselves.

    2. Putting Out Fires, Esq.

      How DARE you not be willing to work out of the goodness of your heart?!?!?!??!?????!!!!!

      Seriously though, this ain’t 2009, employers.

      1. BRR

        Yeah. I’d love to get rid of this concept that I don’t work for money. I’d love to not have to work for money but like most people, I’m not in that position.

    3. Mouse

      So did you take the job? If so, I’d love to see an update on whether the company operates like this as a whole, or if it’s a weird situation with HR/their hiring practices.

    4. cmcinnyc

      Are you taking the job? (I hope not. Or if you must, don’t stop job hunting!) Asking you to take a test AFTER the interview process is over? What? This place keeps moving the goalposts. That is never good.

      1. OP

        Yes, I did accept it. Unfortunately I’m not in a position to turn it down right now. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this is just an overly rigid HR department (in a follow up email to me she blamed her boss for “liking things a certain way”) and not an example of how the company as a whole operates. I will definitely send Alison an update on whether things get better after I’m done with the HR part of the hiring process!

        1. Elizabeth the Ginger

          If it does turn out okay, then somewhere down the road maybe you’ll have the professional capital to bring this up with TPTB and let them know how off-putting it was.

        2. Zephy

          Oooof. I hope you had other reasons to move across the country besides this job. Maybe stay in job-search mode after you get moved in to your new place.

        3. Sara without an H

          Well, good luck! But I’d really recommend that you keep your resume up to date and maybe work on building a network in the new city.

    5. HarvestKaleSlaw

      Thanks for the update! How are you feeling about the job after all of this?

      1. OP

        Well, I’m really torn about the job now. I met with my manager, her manager, and several coworkers and they all seemed like they are easy to work with. But on the other hand, I’m also really turned off on the company after dealing with the HR lady. I did end up accepting the offer, so I only hope I don’t come to regret it!

        1. Dust Bunny

          Well, nothing stops you from continuing to job hunt if this one turns out to be a dud.

          1. valentine

            Is it too late to ask them to pay the relocation costs?

            If the form was a hardcopy, I wonder if they would’ve accepted you entering your target, not current, salary.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch

          At least you have a place to land when you move there, since it sounds like you’re moving anyways.

          Sometimes it really is just an HR department issue and I certainly hope that’s the case here. My mom’s HR is a nightmare as well but the company in general isn’t completely terrible.

        3. The New Wanderer

          I’m glad to hear the salary/benefits were acceptable and sounded at least average and that the people you’d actually work with seem normal. I would guess (or certainly hope!) since the weirdness sounds like it’s specific to the HR process and not (as some of us suspected) the company’s shady compensation practices, that it’ll be fine overall.

          But I’m so glad you pushed back on that bizarre 1.5 hour pre-employment questionnaire because that is beyond unreasonable for them to tack that on. Personally I think those are junk anyway but to give you an offer and then also say they need it? It really does sound like a broken process, but hopefully very limited. Just, be extra sure to check all your paperwork etc. and I hope your manager is an ally should you need one in dealing with HR.

        4. Venus

          HR is one small part of your workplace – if your management team and colleagues seem reasonable then I would have a lot more confidence in it going well. Worst-case you can work at that job while you look for a better one, without time or money pressure, but I’m hopeful for you now that the salary they provided was at least reasonable. Best of luck!

    6. league.

      “At that point I pushed back, asking if the salary was dependent on the results of the test. She said no, and I said that I must know the details of the offer before investing any more time in the process.”

      This is straight-up perfect!

      Did you accept the offer?

    7. CupcakeCounter

      Well duh – of course salary was a concern!
      Dollars to donuts she doesn’t work for free.

      1. BRR

        Exactly! Who do people who need to work for money pretend like other people don’t work for money?

    8. Environmental Compliance

      “Salary was something you were concerned with” Well……no sh!t, Sherlock. Generally there’s things like rent, utilities, groceries, insurance. You know, basic life things that require some sort of currency.

      Sounds like a giant bullet dodged, IMO.

    9. Lena Clare

      Oh wow, what an absolutely bonkers company! You just know that if you’d worked there there would have been other things that they were dysfunctional over.
      Are they REALLY that surprised that someone would want to know the salary before committing to them? My goodness.

    10. The Man, Becky Lynch

      I’d be tempted to ask her if she worked for free because she’s sure acting like she doesn’t work for that pesky, dirty, destructive money…

      Did you continue with their horrible process or did you pull out?! You missed that important part ;)

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch

          Maybe it’s actually a nunnery and they forgot to mention that vow of poverty they’re requiring *taps chin*

      1. DKMA

        “Oh, are you doing this as a volunteer for free, that might explain why you’re terrible at it”

    11. AKchic

      How *dare* she take a crack like that. I would have flat out told her to take my file and shove it. And Glassdoor’d the whole experience.

      Nobody works for free. Nobody wants to waste their time. If you are offering up the job, you should have the salary details ready to go. Quit making people jump through hoops like a petty tyrant.

      1. That Californian

        Seriously! This reminds me of a conversation I had with the head of a graduate department who was offering me $18k/year to live in a major West Coast city. I expressed the difficulty of surviving on that income and she informed me it would be “a bad decision, actually an immature decision to choose a grad school based on money.” Translation: she knew her offer was sub-par but didn’t want to admit it. I took that information on board and went with a different program because it’s one thing to offer a low wage and quite another to try to convince me I can pay my rent with my Intellectual Development and not real dollars.
        Job searches suck, LW, but I do recommend you keep one going if you can.

    12. Ask a Manager Post author

      What on earth? Why are they giving you that test *after* an offer? It implies they could pull the offer based on the test results.

      1. DKMA

        To not make the OP too depressed an alternative explanation here is that the HR department is terrible, has not real say on making hiring decision, but has a checklist of requirements that just NEED to be completed before you can be formally hired.

        So the hiring manager isn’t allowed to hire someone without them taking the test, but they don’t care about the result. And HR doesn’t actually have a say in who gets hired, but can make people do specific process steps.

    13. Bulbasaur

      “Not so much the salary as the fact that you’re taking such a long time to disclose it. That concerns me a great deal.”

      (I probably wouldn’t actually have said that, but that is what armchair me with nothing personally on the line would like to say in that situation).

      1. Dontlikeunfairrules

        Lolol I’d be so tempted to say this exact same thing! Or even “…the fact that you’re being so incredibly evasive and bizarre about disclosing it. That concerns me a great deal. It’s just…..so….abnormal.”

        Hopefully this is just a really new and inexperienced HR person who kinda sucks at her job and the actual organization is fine. Either way, I’d want to bring it up to someone at the new place after I started the job in a “this is something I know you’d want to be aware of because it was so off-putting and left such a bad taste in my mouth.” kind of way. Because they *should* know that this is going on. And if they do know and they’re all ok with it, then they need to realize it’s not normal.

      2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

        I’ve been in situations like that and just said similar – “if you can’t be upfront after all the time we’ve invested in the process, it’s probably better that we cut it off now…”

    14. StaceyIzMe

      Yikes! Was she trained by Catbert or something? She sounds like a truly evil HR lady (not that most HR persons aren’t awesome). How do you get all the way to “we have an offer and must discuss it via streaming video” without doing the skills tests and basic checks first? I hope you don’t have to take this offer and that a better one comes your way quite soon! Also, the crack about being “concerned” about salary. Does she work for literal peanuts? (Or bananas, perhaps?). I am curious about her thinking (but believe that active avoidance would be in your best interests).

  41. Kira

    I had a pretty similar situation. They verbally offered it to me and then called me to talk about benefits, but wouldn’t tell me or email me a salary number. I pressed and about a week later they basically rescinded the offer. I felt a little stupid because I had been talking to people to get their insight on it, but now it sounded a bit like I was making up the offer. But I agree with what Allison said – without a salary it’s like a vague promise of future work, not an actual job offer.

    1. irene adler

      Just one more step towards the All Volunteer Work World employers would love to see happen.

      1. Zak in Barcelona

        This is becoming common. Employers make verbal offers, gauge excitement and then backtrack or offer crappiest offer they can, or worse, it is a way to keep you warm while they are waiting. Tip if you have multiple interviews and get an offer with salary and firm start date confirmed, take it while still continuing to interview and see what happens. I mean you can renege after saying yes. Employers do it all the time but for job seekers it is taboo. Well was taboo. Now what works for you also works for me. It is just business.

  42. MommyMD

    Jobs are primarily about COMPENSATION. We give our knowledge in exchange for money and benefits. These games are a huge red flag, corporate arrogance and total bull sh it. Unless you are in dire need I’d say no thanks.

  43. Sharrbe

    If you hear “I can’t talk to you over the phone, I need to talk to you in person” from the person you’re dating, or your doctor, or your boss, or your child’s teacher……..it’s never good.

    1. Airy

      Especially if you’re in a murder mystery, in which case they will most definitely be bumped off before you can meet.
      THAT would have been a hell of a twist for an update.

  44. Princess Prissypants

    OP, at any point in the process was it suggested that you buy hundreds of dollars of leggings, makeup, tote bags, cookware, knives, vitamins, smoothies, diet pills, underwear, nail polish, or tupperware to sell to your “network?”

  45. Terroi

    I am also job searching and all the companies I have worked with bring up salary range in the first call to make sure we are on the same page. It just makes me wonder why they are being so secretive. Also, if you are moving to a new area many businesses or companies (setting up utilities for example) require a copy of a company offer letter with salary in it to set up services or even to rent an apartment. Hope it works out for you OP.

    1. Definitely here for the money

      I’m applying as well and was just asked to do a 3 page writing exercise for a job before they even talked with me. I nicely told them I wouldn’t invest that time until I knew we were at least in the same salary ballpark. They actually answered that they understand and the range ended up being too low for me, so we both saved time :)

      1. Terroi

        Yes, I agree, its super helpful because I would feel pretty salty if I wasted time on some test or exercise and the job isn’t any range I can even live on.

  46. Definitely here for the money

    When I started at my last organization (nonprofit) there was one other coworker who had started about a month before me. At the two week mark I hadn’t been paid, so I emailed boss and asked about it… turns out he hadn’t set up payroll yet. Coworker had also not been paid ever… I asked him about it and he said he didn’t want to make it seem like he was here for the money. Like “what kind of unreasonable person expects the salary they were offered for doing their work?!”

    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

      Yeah but the point of Zak’s comment – if they haven’t told you the salary yet – For all intents and purposes, you do not yet have an offer in hand . .

      And OP should treat the situation as such. I would not have used such a tone, but as he said – OP has no concrete offer, and the hiring company is reluctant to extend it.

      That’s a problem.

  47. MissDisplaced

    Yes, that is weird! And more so knowing that you’re not local yet and can’t just stop by to meet with them. At this stage, you should be presented with a formal offer letter stating position and salary, and bonus structure (if that’s part of the compensation). If you had a job you were quitting, you would not give notice before receiving the offer letter.
    Benefits packages are also part of the whole package too of course, but I’ve been finding those more standardized of late, so negotiate the base salary first.

  48. pcake

    I’d be very direct about this. I’d tell them as courteously but clearly as possible that it’s not an offer till it includes all of what they’re offering, including salary and benefits details in writing, and that I’m not willing to fill out any hiring forms without that info. After all – and I’d tell them this – how do I know the salary and benefits will be acceptable to me if I don’t know what they are?

  49. TexasThunder

    Refuse to meet until they send you the salary in writing.

    Offer to meet via videoconference to go over in detail 48 hours or more after you receive it. Tell them.you will give your answer not earlier than 72 hours after the walkthrough.
    Be absolutely inflexible about this.
    There can be undue pressure to decide on the spot.

  50. StaceyIzMe

    It’s probably already been said several dozen ways, however, my reaction would be “oh-but-NO!”. There is no legitimate need to hide an offer. If they don’t know what they’re paying, they’re not ready to finalize a hire. If they DO know and they won’t tell, that’s just so bizarre. In your shoes, I’d be super hesitant to move away from your current employment/ home/ support system to work for this outfit! I really hope that a much better (and certainly more specific!) offer comes your way and that you can cross this off your list except for its value as a “you’re not gonna believe this one, but once upon an interview…”.

  51. Shax

    LW, if you do go ahead with the video interview out of morbid curiosity (I know I would), once they’ve presented the package, don’t forget to use the Gift Of Silence; don’t immediately respond, create an awkward pause for them to fill.

    The stuff they say after that silence is generally The Truth that they just spent 20-30 minutes not saying.

  52. Mary

    An employer did this to my dad in 1971, and he is STILL cross about it! Fortunately he got another offer whilst he was still waiting for the salary, and he retired from that organisation in 2008.

    The organisation has changed hands and changed name several times in the past 50 years, but you just mention (any of) the name(s) and he brings it up immediately!

  53. Amethystmoon

    This would be a very big, neon red flag to me, especially with having to relocate. They would be up front if their salary was decent. I agree with the others that they probably think they will talk you into it.

  54. Lime Lehmer

    Wordperfect used to be the preferred word processing program for courts in the state in which I live. Court documents are still available in Word, Wordperfect and PDF formats.

  55. Checking In

    I came back to this today just to see if there was an update and I am glad there was! Not what I was hoping for the OP but I just had to see how this played out!

  56. Snickerdoodle

    Yikes. I literally read the title and thought “Don’t accept” before reading the post or response. Still accurate after reading the whole thing. Who does that?!

  57. Half-Caf Latte

    I keep seeing this Linked In promoted post about “10 ways to get a candidate to say yes” and how it’s HR’s job to sell the candidate on the offer……

  58. HR Manager Who's Been To War

    Run! Run like the wind.
    This is seeming shady as Alison points out, but even if not shady, raises major questions as to the competence of the management & HR functions. Being able to have direct conversations is critical. If you’re a good employee, expect multiple annoying, frustrating, angsty experiences if you join them. Expect poor feedback from managers, avoided conversations and underperforming peers not being dealt with.

    TL:DR; yeah, red flags!

  59. Ponyboy Curtis

    Ha…this reminds me of my first job after college. No offer letter, no discussion of benefits other than “we have insurance”, but the salary was $24,000 a year (it was a long time ago.) Family business: Father (age 54), son (age 30), son’s best friend from high school (age 30), and secretary that had been there a million years, (age 60+.) Plus me, (age 23, the only one of the bunch with a college degree.) More red flags than Moscow in 1980, but hey, it was a Real Job. I took it.
    I got my first paycheck that Friday: $362.50 net, $500 gross. $500 x 52 weeks = $26,000 annually. The secretary took my annual salary ($24,000), divided it by 12 months, and divided the result by 4 weeks per month. Except there’s not 48 months a year, there’s 52. Actually 52.1428571429. so I got paid an extra $2000 that year. That extra $2,000 was nowhere near the aggravation of working for these wack jobs for a while year, (my first week I was spreading mulch at my bosses house and mowing his grass, good thing I went to college,) but I learned a valuable lesson both on the job and from my best friend’s dad, probably my best mentor: “if what they want you to do isn’t illegal, immoral, or unethical, just shut up and do it.”
    I stuck it out for 9 months and got an extra $1,500 because of this clerical mistake, then I got another job and my career took off. Never looked back.
    Sometimes it works out ok.

Comments are closed.