we ask job candidates, “what salary would it take to turn up happy every day?”

A reader writes:

I work for a law firm and have significant input in hiring (including interviewing candidates). I have a question about how we talk about salary with candidates.

None of the job ads we publish specify a salary range. They say something like, “We have no fixed salary for the position, but intend on making an appropriate offer to the right candidate.” This is true, although we do generally have a rough idea of what is on the table. Each lawyer we hire has a vague position in the hierarchy of fee-earners, meaning we will sort of know the work that will be allocated and the fee-earning potential for the new hire.

Whenever we interview, the person is asked, “What salary to do you need to earn to turn up every day happy, motivated, and not grumbling about money?” Lots of people balk at giving an answer, particularly because a specific figure is required, not a range or a “rough idea.” Sometimes people who have really been caught by surprise are given overnight to think about their answer.

After the interviews, the salary the person nominated is part of the consideration as to who gets the job (although certainly not the main consideration), and once a person is chosen they are offered the job at the salary they nominated.

I can’t decide what I think about this policy. I’ve seen good candidates blow themselves out of the water with numbers far too high — but maybe that’s a good thing, because they would have been unhappy at a lower number. On the other hand, we have hired candidates at numbers higher than we planned because they were a standout candidate and were worth paying out of the range we planned. What do you think?

I answer this question over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

{ 309 comments… read them below }

    1. Powerpants*

      This is such a ridiculous question. Salary can improve your life outside of work but it doesn’t really improve your day to day. If you are in a toxic work environment, no amount of money will make you “happy at work”.

      1. TechWorker*

        Yea this was my reaction too. I’ve got some idea of what my labour is ‘worth’ – but if the job or working environment is really crap you bet the number I want to ‘come to work happy every day’ goes up. Potentially to infinity :p

        1. Worldwalker*

          My BIL just moved from where he’d worked for 20+ years to a totally different job, in a different company, at a lower pay rate. I’ve never seen him happier. The higher pay he’d been getting didn’t make up for the toxic environment.

          There are a lot of people who, so long as they make enough to pay the bills, would rather work in a place that doesn’t stress them out and destroy the rest of their lives, and no amount of money (at least, less than seven figures) would make them want to work in a place they hate.

          1. Lacey*

            Yes. I make less at my correct job than at the previous one. And while I can’t say I show up happy to work every day – I’m a lot happier here than at my other jobs. It’s a better place to work even with the lousy pay!

        2. Ellie*

          And keeps going up – X dollars might keep me happy for a couple of months but the next shitty situation will have me wanting more. I also know someone who was very happy with their pay, until they saw an email they weren’t supposed to and discovered they were earning less than everyone else on their team by a clear 20K. You can bet they’re not happy with their salary now. Happiness, and salary expectations, are both relative and changeable.

          1. Selena81*

            I had a somewhat similar thing happen: I was okay with my salary (the work was light and i could choose tasks that I liked), but when I found out others made almost *twice* as much it made me hate that job.

            In my experience racism and sexism plays a role, but the most important factor of underpaying is classism (if you are a first-generation student you are far less likely to know your worth or to advocate for yourself)

            1. Lenora Rose*

              I’m not sure I’d agree it’s the most important, and it’s relevant that it is intersectional with racism and sexism, but I also think we underestimate the effects of classism.

      2. House On The Rock*

        This was definitely another big take away – aside from the giant equity landmine, it’s absolutely bizarre and unrealistic to think that money can offset any and all issues with work. That’s not to say “money doesn’t buy happiness”, but if someone asked me that, I’d immediately think “how screwed up is your culture and day-to-day environment that you have to bribe me right off the bat?!?”. And of course we all have bad days – if we are professionals we generally work through them, but if my cat is sick and I have a migraine and I haven’t slept well, there’s no magic number that makes that stop weighing on me!

        My honest answer to that would be “enough for me never to have to work again!”.

        1. Selena81*

          it also plays into this stupid idea that rich people should be motivated by money, whereas poor people should have intrinsic motivation and can be easily bribed with company tshirts or other cheap crap

      3. Ace in the Hole*

        And even if it could… how can I know what the conditions will be like before taking the job? Maybe my coworkers will be wonderful and I’ll have tons of interesting stuff to do, but maybe I’ll be working with a bunch of grumpy billygoats and dealing with irritating sexist customers. I’d want a lot more money to put up with the latter.

      4. Anonys*

        Yes, 100% this.

        I mean – I know they probably don’t mean “What salary to do you need to earn to turn up every day happy, motivated, and not grumbling about money?” entirely literally but the number it would really take for me to (pretend to be) perfectly happy at work everyday and never grumble is way way higher than what anyone would ever pay me for what I currently do. Like for 250k sure I will slap a smile on my face and never complain about an outdated software or an unnecessarily complicated process. For the high end of fair market value for my work? I am still going to have days where I am frustrated by work and not motivated.

        I am especially hesitant about the “not grumbling about money” part. If I name a number I am happy with/I consider good market value (not 250k) but then end up having a much higher workload/responsibility than discussed or later find out all the guys on my team with the same experience make 10k more than me, I AM going to grumble about money, even if I was excited about the initial offer.

        This is the main issue I think – If feel like by using that specific wording (and not just a more neutral “what are your salary expectations” which obviously still puts the onus unfairly on the candidate) they want to preemptively make any future discussions about unhappiness at work or raises much harder on the employee: “You said x amount is what it would take for you to be motivated every day – why do you want a salary increase?” And they also seem to be incorrectly assuming that anything less than the “this will make me perfectly happy” number will make a potential hire a disgruntled employee.

      5. Sloanicota*

        Yeah plus if someone asked me that, I’d feel like they were looking for my pie-in-the-sky number, prompting you to think big / go up – and then they’re kicking people out of the running for naming too high a number! To be thrilled at work every day I would need like, twice what I’m willing to take for a reasonable job (but would hopefully be smart enough not to answer that way, hence this is a game they’re playing).

        1. Manglement Survivor*

          Yes, I also would think they were looking for your dream salary, not a reasonable salary. And then, if you do give a very reasonable salary, it might turn out that they were willing to pay a lot more but you’re not going to get it. Ugh.

        2. Selena81*

          Yeah, the wording sounds like they are asking for a dream salary. Which would make me extra nervous because they are _probably_ looking for a more realistic salary.

          So much stupid guessing games just so they can maaaaaybe screw over someone who gives too low a number.

          I wouldn’t be surprised if candidates decide to bow out just because of that. If the hiring is so toxic then the workplace probably has issues too.

    2. Just Another Public Librarian*

      Yup! Plus no amount of money is going to make someone show up to work (or life) happy every. single. day.

      1. Worldwalker*

        Yeah. When the first thing you do as you clamber sleepily out of bed is to step on a hairball (thanks, cat) your day is not starting off well. Some days are just like that. You have a dentist appointment. You have a migraine. You’re just tired and achy and you didn’t sleep well and the best you can manage is “vertical” rather than happy. It happens. No amount of money will make you happy that day, at least if it doesn’t involve a Powerball jackpot. That’s life, and it’s disingenuous to imagine that there is some amount of money that would do so, to then require people to act all happy and bouncy because they’re being paid that amount of money.

        Also, forcing people to guess how much money you’re planning to pay them, and they know you’re hoping they’ll guess low so you can save money on their salary, is not starting off your professional relationship in a good place. That’s the kind of thing which, if I was the sort of highly-qualified person you’d most want to hire, would make me apply to your competitors instead.

        1. Despachito*

          I think this question should be taken with a grain of salt just like other interview questions (same as if an interviewer asks “what was your biggest challenge”, you are not supposed to answer “when I was facing a complicated family issue”, it is meant to be work-related).

          It is obvious that they meant “what amount of salary would you be satisfied with”, but it is a crappy strategy as mentioned above, especially if followed by not continuing with those who gave a large number without even trying to negotiate with them.

          (I am pretty salty about that because in my area of competence, a similar tactics is used more often than not, and I am sick and tired of having to strike the right balance between lowballing myself and asking a fee that seems too high and the person then ghosts me).

      2. Wow, really?*

        This! I have a job now where I canpay most bills in a timely manner, with way less stress. But I was only super happy about the salary and the new job because I’d been let go from a previous job the weekday after my birthday. SMILE, BE HAPPY, SMILE isn’t always possible. I’m glad I have a job, but it’sbeen a year and I am stull struggling some days, for various reasons.

      1. dackquiri*

        What this effectively communicates to the candidates is the firm generally takes an irrational amount of offense to salary negotiation. It reads like an attempt to just lock new hires into a salary at the start and then invoke the answer whenever the topic of comes up. Minimal raises despite rent in the location soaring? Inflation? Additional duties shoehorned into the position’s purview? “You said you would never grumble about money for $XK a year.” It makes the firm come off as brittle about the one thing they ultimately owe their employees for the work they do, and it’s a terribly unprofessional look.

        1. Keyboard Cat*

          Especially because many small law firms have crap to no healthcare benefits. So my $$ amount required to not grumble at work is going to change year-to-year if I need to get expensive dental surgery out of pocket (yes, this is from personal experience).

        2. Selena81*

          Exactely: how long is ‘you promised not to grumble’ held over your head if you are hired??
          It makes the firm look very unprofessional.

    3. OMG, Bees!*

      I don’t know when the LW originally wrote in, but I love that things like this are now illegal in my state. Salaries must be posted in the ad, cannot ask about previous salary, etc.

    4. Just...wow*

      totally agree! my first thought if I were asked the question, well ok I would be really happy with X but you know I’m perfectly prepared to negotiate with X-$10K or so, and it’s not going to be a deal breaker for me, because I really want to work for you and learn from you and you’re a great organisation well respected in the industry and I would rather take the lower figure to work with you, so now what do I say? Do I say X-$20K but then they offer me that and there’s no negotiation? agghhhh I don’t know what to say here!

      SO yeah, agree.

    5. Fellow Canadian*

      LOL I thought the same thing for about 30 seconds… then I scrolled down and saw that the next headline was “My boss made us all attend a session with his therapist”

    6. Reluctant Mezzo*

      Really good way to get women and minorities to lowball themselves because 10% over their current wages….still sucks rocks.

    7. Inkognyto*

      (looks at phone) “welp gotta run, thanks for the interview!”

      “Um is there a problem?”

      “yeah something on fire…”

      and leave.

  1. Blackbeard*

    The first thing I thought was “this is a terrible idea”. Just post the salary range in the job ad.

    1. zuzu*

      One of the few things I loved about BigLaw was the lockstep salary arrangement. All first year associates had the same base salary; then they all moved up to the same base salary in their second year, and so on. The differences were in bonuses, which were based on fairly measurable things like billable hours.

      Everyone, men and women, all races, all sexual orientations and genders, got the same base pay. It was glorious.

      1. TechWorker*

        This works well for junior employees (& is how my company does it too). It does get more complicated after a larger number of years where performance and responsibilities differ more. I certainly don’t want ‘number of years at a company’ to be the sole thing my salary is based on :)

        1. TootsNYC*

          though, in this specific instance, the pay is not only based on years. Pay includes bonuses for specific achievements.

        2. NotAnotherManager!*

          This is what BigLaw bonuses are for. They’re based on hours, expertise, and contributions and tend to be in the five-figure range to start and six-figure range as you become more senior. The lockstep is base pay only.

          But I agree with you. At the beginning of my career, I worked at a place that paid and promoted based in butt-in-seat time, and it drove me nuts. I was outperforming people who had substantially more experience, and, though I liked my company and coworkers, I had to move somewhere else to get promoted/paid more. My spouse works for the federal government, which has great healthcare benefits and a pension, but his pay increases are laughable, bonuses are non-existent, and he gets paid the same if he knocks it out of the park or does just enough to not get PIPed/fired.

    2. SarahKay*

      My first thought was remarkably similar: “That’s a crappy question; what is wrong with you?!?”
      Rapidly followed by “Have you read nothing Alison’s published over the years on why any salary secrecy massively disadvantages anyone who isn’t a white man?”

      1. LTR FTW*

        Right? I immediately thought to myself, Alison is going to say “This is terrible!” and of course she did.

  2. mytummyhurtsbutimbeingbraveaboutit*

    Sounds like one of those game shows where you need to slightly underbid the maximum .

    1. cloudy*

      Right? I think if I was asked this question in an interview I’d return it to sender, like “Before I answer that question, can I ask how your company ensures compliance with pay equality laws? Given that we know there are differences in salary negotiation outcomes across race, gender, etc.”

      Seems the only way to “win” a game like this is to not play.

      1. Rose*

        And then you would not get the job. They are not thinking about it and this question is going to be seen as obnoxious at best.

        And it’s great for all of us to say we wouldn’t want to work somewhere like this, but sometimes you need a job, even if it’s kind of a shitty job.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      This is what I have heard described as an “I have something in a box” question. You know nothing but the size of the box. This was in relation to discussion questions for college classes, but I always think about it as being really descriptive of these kinds of cases.

      1. Glen*

        “we have hired candidates at numbers higher than we planned because they were a standout candidate”

        and I know what else you’ve seen, you’ve seen people hired for less than they should have been because they lowballed themselves. Interesting that that is somehow not worth mentioning.

    3. tamarack etc.*

      “To turn up happy and not grumbling about my salary would require you to provide a proper banded, equity-checked salary schedule that is available to every employee and overall competitive.”

  3. Rage*

    In any case, as an applicant, I don’t work for you yet – I don’t know how your business operates, how your managers manage, what level of toxicity I can expect (overall or inside individual teams). The amount of money I would require to turn up “happy” in a toxic environment is far, far greater than the amount needed for a more well-run environment.

    1. Exhausted Electricity*

      yeppp… If I’m doing work I find fulfilling in a healthy environment, that’s one number. If the environment is garbage and the work is not fulfilling but you need me to do this with a smile on my face?
      That right there is A MUCH HIGHER NUMBER.

      It’s also worth pointing out that the cost of living has skyrocketed recently so even if my pay was previously enough and in line with everyone else’s, I’m going to start “grumbling” about needing more money.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Yep, I think my answer would be “I’ll need X amount to start, but I’ll constantly have to adjust that number based on inflation and how bananapants things end up being around here.”

      2. Watry*

        And the number I need to show up happy is a lot higher than the number I need to stick around awhile and show up reasonably contented regardless of the environment. So many variables!

        1. College Career Counselor*

          Completely agree! Law Firm gonna Law Firm–this is the kind of game theory BS that too many of them like to play. Tells you what it’s going to be like to work there.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      My first thought was that I would end the interview the second this question came up – but no, you’re right, I’d stay and have this conversation. Because yes, this is very true, and as a company already showing flags of toxicity they should hear it.

      1. Frickityfrack*

        Right? Like, how much is inpatient therapy that isn’t done in a nightmare hellhole, and maybe some meds that actually work because lately mine aren’t quite cutting it? Add that to whatever it costs to pay my bills and actually save some money, and then maybe we can talk about me showing up genuinely happy. I can pretend for cheaper, I guess.

      2. ErinWV*

        Me too, just because I am not a morning person. I am routinely unhappy in the morning because I got out of bed before the sun rose.

      3. Turquoisecow*

        Same. I have clinical depression. I’m not sure any amount of money would make me happy every day.

    3. umami*

      Right? This is a clear sign of a toxic environment, so the proposed salary would have to reflect exactly that. And definitely expect no one to care if you say it’s shitty, because all they will say is ‘you said $X would make you show up happy, so …’

    4. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Not to mention that the number is not the whole story: if your full package includes a 5pm hard stop, and unlimited sick days plus six weeks PTO, and catered lunches every day, and subsidised commuting costs, and top drawer medical/dental, and a generous pension, then my happy number is lower than if I’m going to be slogging 60×51, buying takeout twice daily, renting a parking space, and never going to the doctor.

    5. NewJobNewGal*

      Exactly what I was thinking! If I’m a woman at a law firm, then I know I’m going to be disrespected every other day, abused every once in a while, and feel slightly crappy every day. The amount of $$ required to be happy EVERY day is astronomical.
      But classic white dude who gets worshiped at every job doesn’t need that kind of money.
      The question is sexist, classist, racist and gross. It assumes that everyone has the same experiences in the workplace.

    6. Caz*

      I have some idea of how the business operates and how the managers (mis-)manage based on this question, and my number has gone up accordingly.

    7. Whyamihere*

      Last week I would have said 2million starting Monday morning at 7:58 am I would say I am paid fairly. My horrible manager was going to get fired but he saw the writing on the wall drove over an hour to pack up his stuff and possible hide some stuff, and walked out. So much less toxic at the job now.

    8. hypoglycemic rage*

      yeahhhh as someone who is leaving her own, uh, not-great job this week, if i were paid more than i am, that might make a difference in how much i was willing to handle prior to quitting.

      this is an excellent point!

      1. Someone else*

        On the flip side, I recently took a pay cut, moving out of a company I hated and away from a client facing role. My new role pays reasonably well for my industry/ area, but my previous job paid Very Well. Turns out getting paid more than I was likely to anywhere else wasn’t enough to make me happy when the actual job made me miserable.

    9. Florp*

      Right? Red flag! It gives “how much money will it take to make you put up with manure? Because we’ve got a whole dairy farm right here.”

    10. Old Cynic*

      “toxicity I can expect”…

      “oh, we don’t have that here, we’re one big happy family!”

      “well, that response tells me the toxicity here is higher than average”

    11. Nicole*

      Yes this! Without knowing the environment the only way I can be guaranteed to be happy every single day is making enough that I will quickly save enough to be able to quit at any time. But that’s probably not the answer they want.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        And on the flip side, I have left a well-paying job after being moved under a terrible manager, and no amount of money could have convinced me to stay.

        1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

          I fall here. For a medium-crappy job, a high number covers a multitude of sins. (I have that now!) But for a really shitty job? There is no dollar figure for that. I could do a lot of things for 6-12 months for a mega paycheck but even literally millions of dollars isn’t enough to make me un-grumpy at a terrible job in the long run.

          1. Worldwalker*

            Yeah, enough money to make you happy at a toxic job generally is because you’re planning to leave that job once you have a substantial amount of money stashed. I’d do most things for a million dollars a year, but I wouldn’t do those things for more than a couple of years.

  4. Alex*

    Truly awful. There’s nothing good about this. In addition to the pay equity issues that you could introduce, as well as the issues that are already happening (losing good candidates because they said a number too high), you don’t actually learn anything about a number that would make them happy, because that number is highly dependent on their experience at the job. What if they thought they would be happy with 100k, and they get there and find out people more junior to them are getting 150? I doubt they would feel happy anymore.

    This practice is hampering good hiring and not actually giving you any good information. Cut it out!

    1. ferrina*

      All of this.

      It’s also weird that OP is saying “happy every day”. Yeah, I’m not going to be happy every day. Professional and pleasant, absolutely. Happy? Ya know, sometimes I have a bad night’s sleep or my cat vomited five times before I left the house or every light was red or whatever. It would take seven figures for me to be happy every day, because I would assume that “every day” would run out eventually and I’d be ready to leave when that happened.

      1. Runner up*

        Exactly this! It will take a *lot* for me to promise to act happy every day. I’m not sure how I’d actually respond to this question, but I think my gut instinct would be a flippant response with a lot of zeros.

      2. Margaret Cavendish*

        Yeah, that’s the thing for me as well. I’m an exceptionally literal person – which might actually be a good quality for a lawyer! But it’s not situation-dependent, I am literal in all the situations.

        So first, I’d have to define “happy” by any number of variables – internal and external to the work environment, plus the ones I can control and the ones I can’t. Then I’d need to figure out an appropriate level of Happiness per day, because we can assume I won’t be 100% Happy every day regardless. Should I aim for a bell curve? Let’s say I could be 20% happy on 20% of the days, 80% happy on 60% of the days, and 100% happy on 20% of the days. Would that make me 100% Happy overall?

        Then I’d likely get overwhelmed and scrap the whole exercise, and toss out ONE BILLION DOLLARS like Dr Evil. Because yeah, I’m pretty confident that I could be happy every day at that level!

        1. Feckless Rando*

          Toss in 12 weeks of vacation on top of unlimited sick leave and a 100% employer paid top shelf healthcare plan and I’d do just about any job!

  5. Antilles*

    I always hate these sorts of games. Why are you asking me for my ideal range? You have a department budget, surely you have some kind of know roughly how much money you’ve got available!
    The actual answer of course is that the company is trying to hold down salaries by seeing how they much can underpay candidates by – you’ll note even OP admits that salary is “one of the considerations”.

    1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      They admit they have an idea. So they already know they will offer the job to the person who comes closes to their mystery number. So just put the damn thing in the ad.

    2. Elsewise*

      They aren’t even asking for an ideal range!

      a specific figure is required, not a range or a “rough idea.”

      And then they offer exactly what you say, and if they can’t match they cut you out of consideration. This has to be the worst way of handling salary negotiation I’ve ever seen.

  6. Hiring Mgr*

    There’s simply no need to play these games. Just give a range. Otherwise you sound like (RIP) Bob Barker

    1. Rage*

      “We asked 100 people ‘What salary would make you turn up happy every day?'”


      “Survey SAYS?”


  7. A Simple Narwhal*

    Wow this is the worst game of the Price is Right I’ve ever heard.

    I can also imagine certain demographics benefit from this game more than others.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I wonder whether the same answer from different demographics gets the same response. Candidate 1 has a very high idea of herself; Candidate 2 has gumption.

    2. ThursdaysGeek*

      This. Just by socialization (which is changing, but isn’t there yet), women are generally going to ask for a bit less than they should, men will generally ask for a bit more than they should. So you’ve got illegal discrimination baked right into your system.

      1. Phryne*

        Interesting twist though, that men overshooting the goal will actually disqualify them for consideration apparently.
        It’s like one of those ‘cash in 10.000 dollar now or play on for a million’ game shows.

  8. Clementine*

    The only good thing about this is that it sends up all sorts of red flags about the company, and hopefully candidates who might otherwise have taken the job will opt out.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Yep. What it tells me is that this is a company that likes to play games with people’s lives. Been there, done that, don’t need any more of it.

      On to the next interview. This one wouldn’t even get a thank-you note from me.

      1. ferrina*

        What it tells me is that this is a company that likes to play games with people’s lives.


        This also tells me that the company is incredibly short-sighted. They’ll pay a discount price to get talent, not realizing that fair market value is what KEEPS talent.

  9. Thatoneoverthere*

    I dunno, this is a bad question. Pay is only part of the package to me when it comes to be happy at work. I have worked fantastic jobs, where I loved the people, the work and the company and the pay was only ok. I stayed for a while bc it was stable, easy and I felt supported. Eventually I had to move on. I had a job where i made more and it was toxic hell hole. I wouldn’t go back if they paid me $100k per year (even if they claimed to fix all the issues). Luckily, I got a new job with a pay raise, but for a while my husband and I talked about leaving with nothing lined up (that’s how bad it was).

  10. Sam*

    I hate this. If you have a salary range in mind, just put it in the ad. I can then decide whether or not that salary would make me happy to come to work for you. Why do so many employers put the onus on candidates to make a salary rather than being up front about what they are willing to pay?!

    1. mreasy*

      I just won’t apply for any job without a range in the ad. I’m lucky to be able to be this picky, but OP: you will lose out on good candidates who can afford to be picky about what they apply to.

  11. Theresa*

    It’s a lousy approach, for all the reasons you mentioned, and more. After a year in the job market, I’m fed up with all the games to play and hoops to jump through. Quit imitating The Dating Game. Let’s just put all our cards on the table, shall we? That way, no one is surprised or disappointed later.

  12. Goldenrod*

    I love Alison’s answer to this. My first thought was discomfort with this practice, but I couldn’t articulate why. Alison nailed it.

    Also: Is there an update to this one?

  13. Heidi*

    The OP doesn’t actually say anything about the outcome of this practice. If this hiring practice is working, the OP should find that everyone at the firm is happy and motivated and in no way grumbling about money, right?

    1. Andy*

      This would be a great follow-up question for the candidate to ask the interviewers:

      “Do you find that this question produces an office full of happy workers who don’t grumble about pay? Or is there still some degree of unhappiness in your workplace?”

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      And that makes a difference because….how?

      Of course everybody is happy and smiling and not complaining about money because if they got hired, they will only find out that there are lots of bananapants things about this company after they get hired. Nobody is going to want to admit they asked for two little money given the actual working conditions.

      That’s part of what this game is all about — a way to ignore workers’ concerns because management can just say “Well, you got the salary you asked for, so sit down, shut up, stop complaining about having to go to three-hour therapy sessions with Bob, and get to work.” It is a way to be able to blame the victims when things go south.

      Do you really want to work for a company that plays games like this? I sure as hell don’t.

      1. Andy*

        Sorry, I thought this but didn’t write it down in my earlier comment. What I should have said was “This would be a great follow-up question for the candidate who has already decided not to take the job.”

      2. Heidi*

        The point I was trying to make is that the OP will probably find that there is no greater happiness with this interview practice. A person’s job satisfaction depends on a lot more than salary. What the OP might find is that their lawyers don’t feel like they can ask for raises because they would just be told that they got the exact salary they asked for.

    3. Guacamole Bob*

      Not just that everyone is happy and motivated, but also that the firm is not violating pay equity laws!

    4. Ellis Bell*

      Even if that was the case, how many of them are happy white dudes, though? How many are people who are only content until they find out the annoying coworker they’re always covering for, earns a lot more simply because they had more chutzpah in the interview? It doesn’t make any sense.

  14. Ginger Cat Lady*

    If you play rotten games like that, you’ll have to pay me at lease a million a month. And I’ll need to be complete remote so I can mute you when I need to.
    I hate this so much.

  15. ThatGirl*

    I also wouldn’t know how to answer this question fully – how flexible is this workplace? what are my coworkers like? there are 100 little things that add up to how I feel about a workplace and I can’t possibly know all those things when interviewing – so I don’t know if I’d be happy at 90k or 110k or 200k.

    1. Betty*

      I’m also guessing that they haven’t fully walked through the benefits package before asking this question. My number would probably look different if you have outstanding insurance that covers my whole family and do a 401k match and 6 weeks PTO.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      This is probably a great answer to this question; telling them that your happiness at work depends on lots of factors. I imagine they would then try to drill your salary range out of you (because the question is not actually about happiness at work) and I’d really want to respond that if they’re paying equitably and competitively for the field, they should know the range (but how often do people insist on companies being prepared with a range, which is why the biggest pushback they’re seeing is shock.)

      1. MassMatt*

        I’d be tempted to answer “that depends on how dysfunctional your company is. If this question is any indicator, I’d have to say VERY”.

  16. Andy*

    This practice is also shitty because it insidiously implies that employees should not be visibly unhappy at work, and should not ‘grumble’ about money at work, because well, “you had your chance at the interview!”

    It’s a manipulative power play. The employer has a range budgeted. They’re not sharing it. That’s shitty. The End.

    1. Pat*

      This makes me assume that if I have disagreements about anything, it will be considered “grumbling” and not taken seriously.

    2. Butterfly Counter*

      This is what stuck out to me, too.

      “We don’t want to hear you grumbling about this job,” can be a real red flag. What should the money be making up for? Overtime hours twice a month? Or twice a week? Overbearing bosses? Unachievable expectations? There are some things that money can’t make up for at work.

      Is this company asking for toxic positivity? Is everyone required to be smiling and feeding each other the company lines?

      Also, I don’t think I’d know what amount of money would make me stop grumbling about my current job that I actually like. I have a lot of flexibility and autonomy, but some of the people I work with: oof. I don’ think I could put a price on not grumbling about them! Even double my salary, I’m still going to be mad that XXX is a raving racist and misogynist.

      1. Silver Robin*

        I would be sorely tempted to respond with, “Well that depends, what is there to grumble about in this job?”

    3. ferrina*

      They’re already setting you up to have your concerns dismissed, and you haven’t even started working there yet.

      I’d be running for the hills.

    4. computerJanitor*

      this was my first reaction. It feels like a trick question where your answer is assumed to buy your perpetual happiness. I can just see the hiring manager denying a request for a raise because the employee said they’d be happy with their starting salary during the interview.

  17. Hello McFly*

    So Much Yikes. The Venn diagram of “partners who think this is a fine idea” and “partners who think they should pay men more because they are Family Men and the ladies are working as bonus income” is probably a perfect circle. I am guessing this firm doesn’t have any resources devoted to DEI.

  18. Carrots*

    I have to crawl out of my warm bed on a cold morning work, versus snuggling down and reading all day – no amount of money really makes up for that.

    1. Teapot Librarian*

      Exactly! I put up with my job because it pays well for what it is (relatively low stress, 35hr/wk, acceptable benefits) but do I like the job? Not really. It’s an income so that I can pay for my cats’ quality of life. Would more money make me happier to do my job? Not really. I’d still just be putting up with it.

      1. Worldwalker*

        We work to support our cats.

        Maybe they should be asking the cats their question: “How much does your human need to earn to support you in the style to which you would like to become accustomed?”

  19. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    It’s not JUST about the money either! I took a pay cut to come to my current firm because I know them and know they have a great working atmosphere, fantastic people, excellent disability accommodations and are pretty close to home.

    So ‘how much money to avoid you griping?’ would get questions bac from me regarding what hours do you expect, how is the culture at your firm, are you going to be an arse about my health issues?

    1. Bexy Bexerson*

      Yep. When I was offered my current job, I had to suppress my surprise and shock and delight at how high the salary offer was. I really needed a job, like pretty badly (had been unemployed for a couple months after a layoff)…but I still didn’t accept immediately. I asked the recruiter about the expectations for working hours (I was afraid they’d be expecting 60 hour weeks or some such bullshit). She went back and checked with the hiring manager, then called and told me it was generally a standard 40 hour week with only occasional needs for a bit extra.

      I’ve been there four years now, and I can count on one hand the times I’ve worked over 40 hours a week. and the last was maybe two years ago.

      I really like money. I also really like my life/work balance (I refuse to call it work/life balance because fuck that noise, life comes first).

  20. Mrs. Hawiggins*

    Sounds more like, “What salary would it take to make US happy?” I live in a state for you can’t ask salary expectations anymore. Does that mean everyone in this state knows about that? No.

  21. Statler von Waldorf*

    Having worked at a law office, this is the exact sort of sleazy technique that I have come to expect from lawyers, and it is the type of behavior that provides a perfect example of why the general public has such a low opinion of the profession. This makes me sad as a good lawyer when you really need one really is a priceless treasure, but lawyers gotta lawyer.

    I don’t buy for a second that management is not keenly aware of the informational advantage they have over the job applicants and how that allows the firm to profit. Sure, a few employees might get paid more, but I’ll wager that the vast majority of the applicants leave money on the table. Call me cynical, but if this practice actually cost the firm money instead of saving it, I strongly believe that the partners would have ended this practice long ago.

  22. umami*

    The question presumes that a candidate’s main concern (and path to happiness) is salary, and that is most certainly not the case (benefits, vacation time, workplace culture, and so on). I would never work for a company who asked this because I would assume they would not consider anything else as being important to my happiness at work, so it must be a shitty place but for the money.

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      It definitely strikes me as a “we can throw money at the problem to compensate for lack of good benefits/vacation time/culture, etc.” question, like they know in advance everything else sucks and they’re just trying to find out how much they have to pay people to tolerate the environment.

    2. HonorBox*

      I was coming here to say the same thing. Even if we agree on a number, what’s to say that a few weeks into the job, you’re not able to get home at a reasonable hour to see your family or that you can’t dip out to see a dentist without the whole place up in arms or something like that. Asking this question presumes a lot about a candidate and may tip them off to other things being out of sync.

    3. hbc*

      Yeah, as much as the gamesmanship is a major problem, I’m just stuck on the idea they have that they’re equating happiness with money. I like money, but I still won’t feel hap-hap-happy at work if you’re paying me 7 figures to get yelled at and emotionally abused, or wade through raw sewage every day, or help wealthy jerks hide money from their soon-to-be ex-spouses. I might put up with it for as long as possible, but I’m not jumping out of bed going, “Yay, off to wade through the muck again!”

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      The last time my spouse got a “bonus” designed to retain him, it was a big increase in flexibility.

    5. Jill Swinburne*

      Yes, exactly! Money isn’t everything – as long as it pays the bills and leaves some surplus for fun/saving, there are so many other factors that make you happy to go to work – your team, opportunities for development, the culture, feeling valued, benefits, leave, being treated like a human with a life outside work.

      Simply asking them how much money they need to be happy suggests to me that all those other factors are absent.

  23. Matt*

    This brought back memories of a telemarketing job-disguised as customer service- interview I went on shortly after graduating college in 2015. Since there was no salary listed on the posting, I asked about the pay rate. The two interviewers looked at each other and asked me,”How much would you need in order to live?”

    I thought about it for a few seconds and replied, “At least $700 per week.” They looked at each other and eventually down at my resume.

    I never got a straight answer about pay. I also never heard back, either!

  24. Caramel & Cheddar*

    This question sucks for a lot of reasons already outlined, but asking this question seems to ignore the fact that “happy, motivated, and not grumbling about money” is almost always going to be a number much higher than you’re willing to pay people.

    I might expect a salary of X, but my salary buys my work product, not my motivation or happiness. If you want those other things, of course you’re going to pay a premium that’s probably going to come across as high! Especially if you’re also asking people for a “not grumbling about money” number.

    You are basically asking them to name a very large number and then getting upset when they do exactly as asked. Why set them up for failure like this?

    1. allathian*

      Yes, this.

      There’s literally no amount of money that would guarantee no grumbles from me.

      A million a week for a few months would guarantee that I’d never need to work again when I get sick of all the nonsense…

  25. Oryx*

    I like my job, but my happy place is not at work and I promise no employer can afford what it would it take me to make me “happy” to show up

    1. M2RB*

      Ding ding ding, we have a winner – work is not what motivates me to live; this is a contractual relationship!

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Yeah I’m more or less fine with the money I make and even so you can pick happy or motivated, most days, you don’t get both. You want all three? There are going to be more conditions than money – a flexible schedule, a four day week, catered meals, no stupid questions….

    3. allathian*

      So much this. I like my job, my coworkers, my boss, and my employer in general. I could earn more working elsewhere, but I’m not willing to exchange more money for less flexibility.

  26. ZSD*

    The “not grumbling about money” part would also make me assume that there are people in the office openly and frequently grumbling about money. This would make me think both that people tend to be underpaid at this firm, and that it will be an unpleasant work environment.
    (This is on top of all the problems mentioned in Alison’s response, of course.)

    1. Ms. Murchison*

      Or they had one vocal person once upon a time and the bosses decided they never wanted to hear it again.

  27. M2RB*

    I would not want to work for a company/firm with this practice and would absolutely pull myself out of candidacy for a position there. As a previous commenter mentioned, I don’t know enough about the working environment to know what salary would keep me ‘happy’. I’m at a point in my life and career where being happy at work doesn’t have much to do with my pay – unless it’s inequitable pay, and then it makes a big damn difference.

    Taking this flawed approach a step further, can I renegotiate my mortgage to pay based on a ‘happy’ salary? or my utilities? student loans? Happy doesn’t pay my bills. This method sounds so much like the “we’ll pay you in exposure” that a lot of small businesses/individuals get pitched.

  28. Richard Hershberger*

    To summarize, you withhold important information, demand the candidate make the opening offer, then refuse to negotiate.

    1. Quercus*

      And then your staff attorneys are all going to be those incompetent negotiators willing to go along with it. Not sure that’s the way to get the best outcomes for your clients.

      In fact, I think the best answer (assuming there in fact hasn’t been a full presentation of benefits, culture etc) is to treat it as a hypothetical how-do-you-lawyer question: “As a competent, experienced attorney, I would never commit to any part of an agreement until all the items are spelled out. Which in this case would include a firm benefits package and a strong understanding of the job and its requirements, ideally a written employment contract. During negotiations for my client, I could answer such a question by giving a ballpark range to make sure an agreement is even possible, but I would make it clear that the actual number depends on the other items”

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        I like this. I doubt it would result in being hired. That would require more introspection than is shown here. But I also doubt that not being hired here is a bad thing.

  29. Capt. Liam Shaw*

    I don’t have a problem about this question, other than not publishing the range or telling it. I like the tone of “coming in happy” being I have seen people who are absolutely miserable at work to be around. But I am not a fan of not just telling what it pays though. Maybe rework this to “here is what it job x pays, we want everyone to be happy, so we are being transparent” or something like that.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      You should have a problem with this question, for all the reasons listed in the comments above and especially for what this question means for ethics as diversity. Maybe re-read Alison’s response and think about this.

      If people are absolutely miserable at work, throwing more money at them probably won’t make them stop being miserable. You have other, probably bigger, problems in your workplace.

      1. Capt. Liam Shaw*

        I don’t think asking what makes a person happy is bad. I just don’t think asking what salary someone wants is good. Didn’t read the article since it is view limited/paywalled.

    2. HonorBox*

      “Knowing what you know about the job right now, and knowing that the salary range is X to Y, if offered the position, would you be happy with that?”

    3. Jessica*

      It is deeply, deeply sick for an employer to try to mandate happiness, and almost as bad to mandate the performance of it.

      Basic professionalism, even if you’re unhappy? Sure.

      But you can’t actually demand that people feel particular emotions.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Yes, extremely well put, thank you.

        Could also run into disability discrimination. Chronic depression, etc.

      2. Dinwar*

        I don’t think the question is about mandating happiness. A generous reading is that they’re trying to figure out what the employee would expect and accept. If it translated to a work environment where the employees had a say in the things that directly impacted them and weren’t dictated by the nature of the business, this would be a good thing.

        From that generous reading, the issue is the imbalance of information and different expectations. The employer knows the work environment; the employee doesn’t. So the employee has no capacity to give a defensible answer to this question, even if a defensible answer was possible. You can’t ask “How much would you pay for what’s under Box #3?” and expect a real answer. And since the question presumes that the primary, if not only, factor in happiness is money, the question is deeply flawed for most people. Non-financial factors like recognition, the nature of the work, interactions with one’s coworkers, and the like can have greater impacts on happiness than dollars and cents.

    4. NotAnotherManager!*

      The problem with this question – and it’s disappointing that attorneys don’t recognize a false premise when they see one – is that it assumes that money is the key factor to happiness in a job. It’s not. There are tons and tons of studies that indicate that pay is not the top driver of job satisfaction (so false premise AND poorly researched). People rarely leave jobs because of money, they leave because their boss is awful, their organization is full of bees and uninterested in changing, their work is uninteresting and not meaningful to them, their coworkers are miserable people that want you to join them in their misery, etc.

      It sounds very much like they are asking how much they would have to pay someone to smile through whatever bullshit they put them through on a day-to-day basis. I’m definitely jaded on this front because I worked with lawyers for years, and there is definitely a Don Draper, “that’s what they money is for!” vibe when they treat you like crap (and, if you’re not an attorney, complain about how overpaid you are when you make a quarter of what the first year whose filing you just had to save from the dumpster fire does). It’d be a red flag to me in an interview.

  30. Health Insurance Nerd*

    This is an absolute garbage policy. You should be paying a competitive salary that reflects the market value for the position, not making candidates unwitting contestants in a bonkers game of employment Price is Right.

  31. Anne of Green Gables*

    Wait. You make people give you a *specific* number in the interview process, with no clues from you as to what an appropriate range is??? This really puts candidates on the spot in a way that is 100% intentional on the part of the employer. This is super crappy.

    1. The New Wanderer*

      Yeah, that’s the worst part to me – not just “tell us your salary expectation based on feelings” but a specific number. “Oh we let them think about it overnight if they need to” hopefully translates into a lot of good candidates using that time to craft a polite NOPE email.

      Or, better yet, go all in with $249,512 as a specific salary expectation.

      1. A friendly reminder*

        “As an paralegal? Oh, $45K, plus a 1% cost of living each year increase after three years would be plenty. Plenty :-) I do have one other request which I hope is not too much: a pizza party on my five-year anniversary and every five years after that. I hope I can get two slices those days – though I understand company policy is usually one (1) slice per person at events like that! Happy family! But if the anniversary pizza is too much, I understand.”

        1. Jaydee*

          Hired! But I’m going to use the typos in your first sentence to argue there was ambiguity and only give you a 1% COLA every three (3) years. We can swing two (2) slices of pizza for the anniversary parties though. It won’t be *good* pizza mind you. One of the partners has a BIL who runs a chain of very mediocre pizza restaurants and the partner gets a deal there. But you can eat as much of the crappy pizza as you want!

      2. Margaret Cavendish*

        Oh shoot, sorry! The top of range for this position is actually $247,512. Too bad we couldn’t come to terms on salary, best of luck in your job search!

  32. Bookworm*

    Please, PLEASE just post the salary range. There are so many factors that could go into this: benefits, commute, ability to work from home, whether overtime is required, etc.

    Just post the salary range.

    1. Common Sense Not Common*

      The sad part is that even in areas where posting a salary range is law, companies still get around it.

      On another site a person posted an actual job posting where the pay range listed was $42,000 to $150,000. Which was no help at all.

  33. daffodil*

    I’m generally an optimistic, positive person but there is literally no amount of money that would guarantee I turn up happy EVERY DAY. Sometimes I’m grumpy! Sometimes I don’t want to do the thing that I understand and agree needs doing!

    1. Worldwalker*

      Exactly. I want my cats to be happy. I want my house to not smell. But despite this, there is no way I’m actually *happy* to clean the litter box. It’s just a task that needs to be done.

  34. Clefairy*

    I feel like that question can be a really good thing, IF any only if they ask it in conjuncture to sharing a range of some sort.

    For my current position, the range was 60-90k. After the interview process, they asked what my salary expectations were. I said anything in the 70-80k range would be great, fully expecting to get 65-70k, which is what I was actually aiming for. They then asked- ok, so we know your expectation. What would actually make you super excited and happy? I said $80k would really blow me away. The offer came back at 82k. It was honestly a really awesome experience, and made me feel extremely valued, and also gave me a great confidence boost stepping into the role. So just an example of how it can be done the right way.

    For the record, I do not think that the OP’s company is doing it the right way.

    1. metadata minion*

      This method is still going to penalize people who don’t feel comfortable negotiating, which is disproportionately women and people of color. There is a budget for the position. A candidate has a certain level of the necessary skills. Their needs and/or assertiveness shouldn’t affect how much they get paid compared to someone else with the same skills.

      1. Clefairy*

        I mean, negotiating is a pretty standard practice, and it’s a skill that everyone should be comfortable building. It would be nice to live in a world where it didn’t matter, but that’s definitely not the case and I will be surprised if it ever does.

        I think that if someone point blank asks you what would make you excited, after a range has been declared and a salary expectation has already been given by you, and you aren’t able to answer art that point, that’s kind of on you.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Many places are starting to move away from negotiating, especially for more junior roles where candidates don’t have wildly different value profiles. Early career negotiating can lead to life long pay disparities, as metadata minion rightfully points out especially for women and people of color. In fact data shows that these groups don’t actually negotiate less often or with less skill, they’re just statistically less successful because of biases on the part of the employers.

          “This is a part of the game and it’s never going to change” is a very bad outlook. People are actively and aggressively looking to change the game from a lot of different angles, and if you don’t pay attention to that you’re going to get left behind.

        2. Caramel & Cheddar*

          Negotiation may be a skill people should develop, but we’ve seen lots of examples (and I’m pretty sure there are studies) that indicate even if they *do* try to negotiate, women and/or people of colour are more likely to come across as aggressive or out of touch, so they’re penalized if they do and penalized if they don’t. If people want to develop negotiation as a skill, that’s their prerogative, but it shouldn’t have anything to do with your salary.

          1. Chocolate Covered Cotton*

            And unless negotiation is an actual required skill for this job, then they are basing their hiring/pay decisions on something that’s irrelevant to the actual work.

        3. metadata minion*

          But why should should someone be paid more for the same skills in the same job, just because they want a higher salary? In the example of your own job, maybe someone else would have been thrilled at $60k. There’s no reason why your labor is worth $20k more than theirs just because they came to the table with lower expectations or needs.

          I realize that it’s impossible to create a truly fair hiring practice, and negotiation will probably exist in at least a substantial fraction of jobs for the foreseeable future, but it’s entirely in employers’ hands to take away this barrier by just deciding what their budget is and sticking to it.

          1. Dinwar*

            Budgets don’t always work like that.

            Sometimes a person with a higher salary can bring in more money on the same job by being far more efficient and productive in the same time period. They may be doing the same job, but one is doing it objectively better. It’s counter-intuitive until you see the finances a few times (and you always have to argue with the worse sort of accountants–I’m well aware of this person’s cost, but they work 3x more efficiently and save us $100,000, so I’m fine with it!!).

            Secondly, there’s usually wiggle-room in the budget. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If employers didn’t have that you’d have NO room to move in terms of salary, which limits your power as an employee and the employer’s capacity to reward/incentivize you.

            I’m in a position where I’m pretty much maxed out in terms of salary at my current role. Which is fine, I’m working to change roles, but it does mean that my pay is going to be fairly stagnant for a little while. Which means, in terms of inflation, my purchasing power is declining. It’s not a terribly comfortable position to be in. If my company had more loose salary brackets, it would be easier for me to get a raise and thus make my position a bit more comfortable while I work on this transition.

        4. Phryne*

          I know it is used as a figure of speech, but re: ‘It would be nice to live in a world where it didn’t matter’, I’d like to point out that this is the Americal system and there are countries in this world where it does works differently.
          Personally I’ve never negotiated salary. We have a pay-structure where certain jobs get certain pay-scales and normally you would start in the middle with some work experience and lower end without. There is very little wiggle room. Every year you will go up about 2-4% based on your performance (0% for bad performance, 2% for as expected, 4% for exceeds expectations) and have an inflation correction that gets re-negotiated by the unions every couple of years. This is semi-government, I’m sure there is more negotiation in commercial businesses, but even there a lot of labour is under a Collective Work Agreement between unions, employers and government, and negotiation is limited in scope. Also, some benefits are decided by a CWO and some, like health insurance are law, but they are the same for all employees under that CWO, there is no negotiating benefits like vacation days (minimum is 2 weeks a year, but most CWO’s have more).

          I’ve also never seen a job-advertisement without a salary indication here, it would not work. People will simply not bother to apply if there is no indication what it pays.

          1. allathian*

            I’m in Finland and the system here is similar, even if the current conservative government’s trying to undermine the power of the unions.

  35. jane's nemesis*

    I haven’t been so outraged by a letter in a long time! I know it’s an old one that’s been republished, but ARGH

  36. Melicious*

    I haven’t even read Allison’s answer yet, but I HATE THIS. Primarily because my honest answer to that question is very different than my answer to “what salary am I willing to accept.” This is a terrible lose-lose for the candidates. They either have to lie to you or risk naming a salary they know is inappropriate for the role.

  37. Jennifer Strange*

    Aside from being terrible for all of the reasons already named, my answer could change once I’m actually in the job. For example, right now I make less than I would like, but in return I get a LOT of flexibility in working from home and taking time off for necessary appointments (so long as I’m consistently meeting deadlines, which I do). I might name a higher number somewhere else, then start working there an realize that for what they are expecting of me I need a much higher salary than originally thought.

    1. umami*

      Exactly! My husband is PRN, so he essentially works when he wants to, but at times he gets pressured to take on more than he would like. So when they do that, he always comes back with ‘I’ll do it for $X more’, and goes about his day. His time and flexibility is more important to him, but if they want to throw extra money his way to do something extra, by all means! They can decide to pay him or get someone else to do it.

        1. umami*

          Yes, ‘pro re nata’, so essentially ‘as needed’. He’s retired from his original career but is also an RN and works part-time to stay busy, so it’s like being ‘part-time as needed’ and he agrees to the work. Which a lot of agencies try to abuse by giving him more work than he can manage (essentially full-time work for part-time pay), so he pushes back by asking a higher rate when they try to get him to visit ‘one more patient today’ or send him 50 miles out of his way to do an admission taht takes 3 hours, etc.

          1. nnn*

            Thank you! I’d seen it on prescription medication, but I had no idea it could have the same meaning in staffing contexts

    2. OrdinaryJoe*

      Exactly what I was thinking! I’m happily earning less for some great benefits (tangible & intangible). 10 years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to accept less money and the intangible benefits were less important. It’s all a balancing act and pros and cons and so variable … it’s not always a hard and fast number.

  38. Cadmium*

    $1,000,000.00 per year. Ask stupid questions, get stupid answers.

    Back in my waitressing days, I had a guy ask me what I thought my tip should be on what was maybe a $15 order. He had a twenty dollar bill in his hand, so I said $20. He actually gave it to me.

  39. Falling Diphthong*

    Dear AAM,

    While we’re a law firm, we’ve never gotten to see a pay discrimination case from the defendant’s side. So we came up with the following…

  40. ecnaseener*

    The “not grumbling about money” part really grinds my gears. You know what I would grumble about? Being paid way less than my colleagues at the same level as me. Without knowing what they’re making, I can’t know if any given $X is grumble-worthy.

  41. Green great dragon*

    Like happiness is a yes/no question.

    Fwiw, what tends to make people happy with salaries is salary increases. Whatever you start at, you’ll get used to, and want more. Think of all the CEOs doing various dodgy things to increase that pay packet just a little bit more, up from $10m to $10.5m

  42. HailRobonia*

    This reminds me of an exercise one of my teachers in high school did – we had a weekly quiz on the material and on week he said “for this quiz everyone give themselves the grade they think they deserve” – then he got all bent out of shape and upset that everyone except two people gave themselves an A.

    I was one of those suckers… I gave myself a B+ in hopes that my modesty/honesty would count for something.

    1. Generic Name*

      What a dick. Although I guess it’s good preparation for annual reviews at work. Every place I’ve worked you had to do your own self-evaluation, which was then compared with your actual evaluation (your boss’ opinion of you). It’s always felt like a game, much like the salary negotiation game. In evaluations and salary negotiations, the employer has the power and holds all the cards. You, the candidate/employee are expected to predict/read minds.

  43. Miss Muffet*

    This makes me want to gag. Conjures images of the sleaziest used-car salesman from the 70s you can muster. What would it take to get you to sign this deal now? Ugh.

    Also – I would want to just answer in my best Dr. Evil voice: One BILLION dollars.

  44. Nick*

    Holy crap, what a terrible question. Horrendous. LW is most certainly missing out on great candidates. If I were a candidate, I would take it as the beginning of negotiations and give a high number to try and land at a number I would like. LW is also in a much better position to gauge how that number fits in the organization. They have all the power and yet I bet they think they are being magnanimous with this question and hiring process.

  45. Czhorat*

    Yeah. This is SO very bad.

    It’s a game in which the goal is to get the candidate to low-ball themselves. You as the candidate don’t know the range. You probably can guess that a lower number gives a better chance. Asking what number will make you “happy” and not “grumble” smacks of emotional blackmail.

    If I didn’t desperately need a job and was hit with this I’d walk right out.

  46. I should really pick a name*

    “what salary would it take to turn up happy every day?”

    I don’t know, but whatever that number is, it just went up.

  47. pally*

    Aw, swell. Just one more opportunity to low ball myself.

    The happiness issue can be reduced if the salary range is stated in the job ad. Presumably those not happy with the range will not pursue the job. Ergo, OP won’t have to deal with them.

    Yeah, I know, thank you, Capt. Obvious!

  48. Ginger Cat Lady*

    With inflation happening, what might work for me today might NOT be what works a year from now, too. How often do workers get to name their salary?

  49. nnn*

    The thing that strikes me about this is what it takes for me to turn up happy depends on how much sleep I’ve been able to get and whether my eczema is flaring up and whether I have to deal with any assholes today and the outcome of a loved one’s medical tests. Money can’t mitigate these problems (although it certainly could make me even less happy).

    Whether I turn up motivated depends on the nature of the work I have to do and the balance of support/obstruction I’m getting from the employer. Money can’t mitigate these problems (although it certainly could make me less motivated).

    Whether I’m grumbling about money isn’t static; even if I have enough to live comfortably on right now, I don’t know what inflation is going to do in the next year. I don’t know what interest rates will be next time my mortgage comes up for renewal. I don’t know if my eyesight is going to evolve in a way that makes me need significantly more expensive glasses.

  50. Lobsterman*

    I’m torn between the fact that this is an awful game show and the fact that I would pull up Zillow and ask for enough to buy a 3-bedroom townhouse.

  51. Jiminy Cricket*

    Two things jump out at me:

    1) The smarmy implication that they actually DO want you “happy” at work, without saying what they would do from their side to help make that happen.
    2) “Sometimes people who have really been caught by surprise are given overnight to think about their answer.” Meaning that absolutely everyone is forced to give a specific number and normal things like asking about the range or starting a conversation about it are not entertained.

    Okay, a third:
    3) They just reject people who aim “too high” out of hand, rather than making a counter-offer!

    This is one of those awful things that looks friendly and kind on the surface and absolutely is not.

  52. Coverage Associate*

    I am so glad I work in a city that requires a salary range in job postings.

    Echoing everyone else re total compensation package, not just the salary. Lawyers in particular should be able to crunch those numbers. I just completed a job search, and I totally calculated my take home pay and discretionary income by looking at salary, retirement benefits and family health insurance. Also, the benefits offered tell you something about the firm beyond just how they effect your finances.

    That said, certain high level lawyer jobs require an applicant to know law firm finances. All lawyers should know their billing rates, and lawyers coming in as equity partners or wanting to make equity partner fast should also know how much of the gross income they generate goes to overhead. But there’s way better ways of finding out what a lateral knows about law firm economics.

  53. Ms. Murchison*

    Yikes, I can’t believe this letter is only four years old. This practice screams “we want to keep women and minorities in their place.” It doesn’t matter that OP claimed in the original comments that there isn’t pay inequity because of all the reasons Alison stated in the answer, all the people who are being filtered out for not having an answer the firm liked, or who may have been put off from working there because of exactly what this question suggests.

  54. pally*

    So they are good with, “I want $1,000 more than the highest paid person who has ever held this position.”

  55. I should really pick a name*

    What benefit do you actually get out of this system?

    As far as I can see, the main benefit to your firm is that it allows you to lowball some people.
    On the downside, it’s probably losing you good candidates who are being forced to pull a number out of thin air.

    You said that you sort of know the work that will be allocated and the fee-earning potential for the new hire. So why don’t you just make them the highest offer you reasonably can based on that information?
    If that’s not enough money for them, they won’t accept it.
    If it’s equal to or greater than what they’re looking for, they’ll accept it.
    And if they find out they don’t like working for your company, they might quit, which will happen under your current system anyway.

    1. nnn*

      Building on this, if you want to lowball people, why not lowball people yourself rather than making them pick a number?

      You’ll still get employees who are willing to settle for what you’re willing to pay, and you might even get some from the pool of people who, when asked to pick a number, aim higher than you’re comfortable with but would settle for lower?

  56. learnedthehardway*

    This is a ridiculous way to ask candidates about salaries and a ridiculous way to make hiring decisions.

    I have one hiring manager that discusses compensation during the interview and then offers what the candidate says they want. Of course, then the candidate thinks they underpriced themselves and asks for more. At which point the client feels the candidate is acting in bad faith, because why would they ask for more than they said they wanted. Cue me acting as mediator to remind the hiring manager that they put the candidate on the spot and that the candidate feels they should have negotiated more or that they need to negotiate now. And I have to tell the candidate that no, there will be no negotiation, and no, they didn’t underprice themselves, and yes, the hiring manager respects that they could negotiate if they were asked to, and all kinds of other stuff. It’s a waste of time.

    And then, if the candidate IS hired, everyone else on the team feels they were short changed if the candidate is making more or the candidate feels short changed if they are making less than the rest of their peers.

    It would be FAR better to have a range, get a sense of the candidate’s qualifications, be fairly open with the candidate about what you can afford IF they are qualified (no point doing this with people NOT qualified), and then verify compensation expectations at the decision stage, then present a fair offer (to the candidate and aligned with the rest of the team), and negotiate (if needed and within reason). That way, your compensation decision is fair, equitable to everyone, etc. IF the candidate is uniquely qualified / can bring extra value – decide if this is something the company wants/needs, then decide whether to pay more for it – it might be better to create a new role and hire the person to that role, or to say that, no, we don’t need someone who does A,B,C and W – we just need A, B, C – and pay for that.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      ETA – this also allows you to pay much more equitably than the system your company has. Keep in mind that women and minorities have been traditionally paid less and have NOT been rewarded for negotiating the way white males have. There are cultural ingrained biases at work here. If you want to have an equitable workplace, you need to actively support that by making sure your compensation packages are equitable.

  57. JM in LA*

    I have a different issue with this.

    The LW says they know how much they’ll pay based on the fees they’ll generate AND some soft hierarchy issues. Do you tell them this. In some firms like this it’s known that say, insurance defense pays the firm far less than a more lucrative practice area – but the lawyers aren’t subject to this disparity. Firms make different fee arrangements – lots of steady work, discounted – intense one offs – full price, maybe even full price plus premium. I’ve never seen a firm that pays the associates based on which kind of work they do – mainly because you never know and lawyers get pulled into new and unknown things all the time.

    This leaves the person hired at a disadvantage if they’re ‘supposed’ to work for the lower fee generating lawyer, but then get put on the high fee cases – whereas the other way around *that* person is fine.


    1. Coverage Associate*

      Huh. I think a lot of firms begin to broaden pay scales as associates specialize and get more experience. Otherwise, a senior associate in commercial litigation would just jump to a firm with no insurance defense, because the comm lit rates are “subsidizing” the insurance defense salaries.

      Alternatively, associates in higher billing practices have significantly lower hours expectations.

  58. AnonAnon*

    Why are lawyers so bad at employment law? This is essentially a “create your own equal pay lawsuit” algorithm.

    1. JM in LA*

      They’re pretty awful at it. Discrimination all over the place. The last BigLaw scandal which exposed emails is not an anomaly. It’s the rule, not the exception.

  59. lost academic*

    I don’t need to pile on with this, but I concur with the commentariat, and for levity, add as an immediate response (in a world where I DGAF if I get that offer), “B**** I got horses, let me tell you about how much money I reeeeeeeaaaaaally want to show up happy/not grumbling every day EXHIBIT A THE LAST VET BILL”

    You see SO much of this hiring attitude about salary with professions where, to put it succinctly, playing games with negotiation and money and so on is part of the job. It’s such an excuse that doing stuff like this in the hiring process is Valuable because you need someone who’s playing this game as part of the job but getting and doing a job are Not The Same Skill Set Period.

    #morehorses #lessbillabletime

    1. Chocolate Covered Cotton*

      I get that a lawyer has to be able to negotiate with an adversary as part of the job. But I wouldn’t expect to have to treat my own employer as an adversary.

      And if this is treated as some kind of test of a lawyer’s negotiating skills, then I guess the proper response would be to withdraw from applying because nobody should enter into a negotiation without all the information they need nor allow themselves to be pressured into a quick decision without that information.

      When a game is rigged, the only smart choice is not to play. This is a rigged game.

      It’s also kind of insulting, like that letter about a hiring manager for a senior sales position using hard-sell sales tactics on an applicant. Like, the person you’re talking to KNOWS all of those tactics. Those tactics are to be used on the suckers, I mean customers. Using them on your employees, who you know are familiar with them, is insulting at best, and is making what ought to be a collaborative/cooperative relationship into an adversarial one.

  60. Ess Ess*

    I think your company is setting itself up for lawsuits about pay disparities using this approach instead of using an actual skill-based pay scale.

  61. Falling Diphthong*

    AAM fanfic! Write the next sentence.

    We ask candidates “What salary would it take to turn up happy every day?”

    1. Roy Donk*

      And she said, “my salary isn’t important, as long as no one brings cheap-ass rolls to the potluck.”

  62. Seashell*

    I could slap a fake smile on my face and pretend to be happy every single day for $10 million a year. I guess I’m not getting the job.

  63. WillowSunstar*

    Not to mention, if someone is truly unhappy, it’s not always because of their pay. It could be company culture, problems they’re having with their coworkers, issues in their personal life, any number of things. The employee could be living in a crappy apartment that has mice in it. You don’t know. One reason I like WFH is because I don’t have to fake being happy and energetic all day long.

  64. CSRoadWarrior*

    What kind of game is this employer playing? Sheesh. And no salary range? That is part of the problem right there.

    But yes, this is very bad practice. No reasonable employer will do this. I have never heard of this personally, and if I am interviewing and had this question asked to me, I would run for the hills immediately.

  65. Anon in Canada*

    Thankfully, an increasing number of (blue) states are requiring employers to put salaries in job ads. Unfortunately, no Canadian province has done that yet. And unfortunately, some employers are getting around those laws by advertising a range so wide that it’s meaningless; the laws will have to be revised to only allow the top of the advertised range to be, say, 150% of the bottom or something like that. To my knowledge no state has done that though.

    Employers know what they intend to pay. When they say they don’t have a number in mind and that they “tailor it to the candidate” THEY ARE LYING. They have a budget in mind. So put the frigging salary in the job ad and stop playing games with candidates.

  66. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    Money is the not the sole determinant of happiness. Tell me how your firm operates on a number of other dimensions. If you can’t do that, but you expect me to name a figure that’s going to cover 3 standard deviations out on every other determinant in the bad direction, then you can’t afford me.

  67. idwtpaun*

    What an asinine question. My answer would be a million dollars a year. After all, they’re asking me to cover all eventualities, including the one that this turns out to be a nightmare job with abusive bosses.

    (And I notice that someone above made a similar point with a million dollars a month, so apparently even in this facetious reply I undercut myself!)

  68. Mill Miker*

    I’d need to know what other people are making to answer this, as I’d have a hard time being happy every day with any salary that’s wildly out of line with my coworkers. I’d be pissed if I found out I was making less than everyone, and feel pretty guilty if I was making significantly more.

    But then again, “happy every day” would also have to be a pretty big number…

  69. LawBee*

    Oh Lordy what a terrible thing to do to interviewees. I would remove myself from consideration so fast.

    Pay what the job is WORTH, not what will make me happy.

  70. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    Ok for a cheesy game show, but what a load of bollocks for a job interview. Which C-suite idiot dreamed that up? How many good candidates bow out when faced with such stupid games?

    I never bothered applying for any job that didn’t state the salary upfront, because I don’t waste time play guessing games.

  71. Immortal for a limited time*

    Interviewee: “Tell me this is a horrible place to work without telling me it’s a horrible place to work”

  72. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    I couldn’t give my honest answer to that question, because it would be “~20 million” – the only job I’d genuinely have been happy to turn up to would have been the fantasy one that would have set me up for a life of luxury within a few months.

    we get paid to do work because otherwise we wouldn’t do it
    Why on earth do some employers want to pretend otherwise ?

  73. Frinkfrink*

    I can’t imagine how many fantastic lawyers this firm has lost because they assumed the number they gave was the opening move in a negotiation.

    1. Chocolate Covered Cotton*

      The question is bad enough on its own but the practice of automatically rejecting anyone who guesses too high is absurd.

      Do the candidates *know* that if they guess too high they’ll be out of the running or are they assuming if the number is too high the firm will offer a lower number to counter? Are they even told this is an all-in game with only one shot at the “correct” answer?

  74. GreenDoor*

    Ugh! This reminds me of when I was a kid and did something bad. My dad would say, “What do you think your punishment should be?” and actually wait for me to answer. There is no good way to answer this question. You should end this practice. You might give m the exact salary I ask for….but I’m still not going to be happy if I’m spending every day panicking that I low-balled myself unknowingly.

    1. SB*

      Would your Dad have committed to your answer if you gave it? I was a kid who would absolutely answer that with “Hmmm, ice cream & a news puppy” to see what happened.

  75. Pita Chips*

    Thank you Allison. The reply is perfect starting with a nice blunt wake-up call.

    Employers need to put the value on the work the person will be doing, not what they think a person’s experience is worth. Tell us the real range of what you’re willing to pay. Not a range where the midpoint is really your top number, but the top number.

    I spent several months out of work not too long ago. I can tell from experience that companies who play games like this are either trying to lowball you or are conducting an adversarial interview process. No thank you. I don’t apply to jobs where the salary isn’t posted any longer, and recruiters get one chance to supply the answer before I do further business with them.

  76. Dinwar*

    There is no answer that would satisfy this question for me.

    I once read an essay on fun that’s always stuck with me, and which I use to help teach my children to push through difficult tasks. The gist is that there are three types of fun:

    Type 1 fun is just…well, fun. It’s things like playing a game or eating a dessert you enjoy or the like–stuff that you enjoy doing, and which you enjoy the memory of.

    Type 2 fun is stuff that’s fun to have done, but not necessarily fun while you’re doing it. Think of something like a strenuous hike. It’s hard, maybe even brutal, when you’re in the middle of it, but you enjoy having done it. (Field Camp, a field methods class most geologists go through, is my go-to example here–the most physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding thing you’ve ever done up to that point, and if you stick with geology one of the your favorite memories.)

    Type 3 fun is just not fun. It’s not fun when you’re doing it, it’s not fun when you’re thinking about it later, it just sucks. Cleaning up dog poop is an example of this–necessary, but not something anyone can enjoy.

    For me, the ideal job is going to be a combination of mostly Type 1 and Type 2 fun. Something that often pushes me, but not to the breaking point, and which has periods of enjoyment in it as well. My current job is mostly Type 2. The thing is, Type 2 fun involves a certain amount of griping. It’s not comfortable, it’s not immediately enjoyable, and you’re probably not going to show up with a smile on your face. Periods of grim determination are normal in Type 2 fun; pushing past those periods is part of what brings enjoyment in later years.

    Note that money is not a factor here. You could pay me ten million dollars and Type 2 fun would remain Type 2. A mountain doesn’t become easier to climb merely because it’s made of gold! It’d be easier to push through, knowing that once I was done I could do whatever I wanted for the rest of my life, but it remains Type 2 fun.

    Maybe in your line of work money is what makes people happy. I’ll gladly admit that my line of work is not normal, and that it takes a unique person to do it. But hopefully I’ve illustrated at least one type of person you’re driving away, and why we’d object to the question, even if we ignore the issues of power balance during wage negotiations in general.

    1. Donkey Hotey*

      Not that it’s relevant here, but there is also a Type Four Fun: Something that is fun in the moment but cringe-y in retrospect. See also my 30s.

  77. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    “What salary to do you need to earn to turn up every day happy, motivated, and not grumbling about money?”

    I don’t know. Why don’t we start with your salary and bump it up $5M (5,000)/y every time I’m unhappy, unmotivated, or grumbling about money?

  78. Champagne Cocktail*

    I really don’t understand the value of putting an candidate you’re interviewing on the spot like that.

    I would consider that a red flag and withdraw.

  79. Molky*

    I’ve been known to say that I’d rather work on a garbage truck with people I enjoy spending time with, than make a million dollars a year with people who give me a splitting headache every day.
    I use it more to gauge if anyone at a company actually 1) has a sense of humor, and 2) either really enjoys or really hates their job there. it’s all in how they react.

    1. Nothing to Sniff at.*

      The sanitation workers where I live made BANK! They are government employees so have excellent conditions too so it is a very difficult job to get here. All day in a fully automated air conditioned state of the art truck where you can set your own start & finish time as long as you meet your KPIs. Additional days off for council picnic days. Well above award wages. Bonuses for meeting safety KPIs every quarter.

  80. MistOrMister*

    This is such an annoying practice!! I applied to a law firm this year and when I asked about salary since it wasn’t listed online, I was given the run around. I had a friend wo had also applied abd she told me 1) what the salary was and 2) that they had told her in her interview that they have been trying for ages to fill the position and can’t because the pay is so low. I only found out the salary right before my interview and would not even have interviewed if I had known the pay was so low. Regardless, the interviewer bent over backwards telling me how of COURSE I want to know the salary and she would never hide that and this that and the other. 5 minutes later she is on a new topic, having never given me any numbers. Any time a place refuses to tell me what the salary range is, I assume it will be abysmally low and mentally walk away from that company. The days of job seekers thinking we have no recourse where salary is concerned are behind us and smart employers would get with the program. These places have budgets and are well aware about how much they are willing to pay for a position. To not eveb given candidates a range is ridiculous!

  81. Common Sense Not Common*

    I despise the salary game so many companies play. In my state it is not a law that salary ranges need to be posted in the job advertisement. It should be a requirement in all 50 states.

    An applicant is smart enough to know that no company gets to the interview stage without having a range they are willing to pay in. So why play the game? An applicant knows what they make, what they’d like to make and a very wide range of what others get paid for similar jobs in the area. They have no clue what your department budget is, what others in the department get paid or how your department budget fits in with your companies budget and they shouldn’t be expected to.

    I hated every version of “so what’s your salary range” questioning when I was interviewing. I would always stumble through it no matter what I did.

    If someone has a particularly successful answer to the salary requirements question PLEASE share.

  82. Speak*

    I would say for 10 million dollars a year I could turn up every day happy, motivated, and not grumbling about anything. For [Actual desired salary value] I will turn up every day and do my job to the best of my ability.

  83. NotBatman*

    A few years back, I applied to a job that required you to specify “the minimum salary you would accept for this job” as part of the application, and wouldn’t accept “open” or “market” as answers; you had to enter a number greater than 1,000 and less than 100,000. At the time I was disappointed I didn’t get an interview. Now I just pity whatever poor person actually got that job and is probably being paid $10k a year to do it.

  84. Donkey Hotey*

    A long time ago, a friend taught me the lesson: “When starting salary negotiations, say the highest number you can say without laughing.”

    On its own, it’s good advice, especially for this of us stuck in the lower end and trying to get out. However, without painting with too broad of a brush, most lawyers I know do not have the requisite self doubt and/or sense of humor required to provide an upper limit.

  85. CLC*

    On top of everything it’s such a very, very, very odd way of asking about salary requirements. What would make you happy everyday and not complain about money? Honestly I can’t believe anyone accepts their job offers after this. And there’s something especially odd about this coming from and being directed to lawyers to boot.

  86. SB*

    That sounds awful & is a really good way to make people mad when they find out how much they got screwed out of.

  87. AskThem*

    “I don’t know enough about the job yet to know. Also, in my experience companies usually know what they’re looking to pay for jobs. What salary did you have in mind?”

    This script has gotten then to give a number or a range 90-95% of the time when I’ve been asked what salary I’m looking for.

  88. judyjudyjudy*

    For all the reasons everyone already stated, asking candidates about their salary expectations is a bad practice and outdated, and is harming your workforce.

    But this is possibly one of the worst ways you could state the question (that you should not be asking anyway). It assumes that the only thing that makes people happy at work is money. That is not what makes people happy at work everyday. 1) Work generally does not make people happy; work might be interesting or rewarding or challenging or inspiring (or none of those things), but even in the best of circumstances people are sometimes going to be frustrated, sad, tired, worried, or anxious at work because of work or because of some other things in their lives. 2) People might find some contentedness in their jobs, but salary is not the only reason. They might care about hours, vacation, sick leave, work-life balance, opportunities for advancement, travel expectations, mentorship, leadership, coworkers, work culture, location, or non-salary benefits.

    Please stop asking this awful question. Posting the salary range is your best way forward.

  89. Messquito*

    I love when I read a letter and just know the answer is gonna be the “single sentence. (dramatic paragraph break)” type

  90. Natebrarian*

    This is awful and inequitable. Just tell candidates your range. If you can be flexible, say “we anticipate making an offer in the x to y range.”

  91. Captain SafetyPants*

    Just terrible…this ignores the fact that these amounts are relative. You might be totally ok with a given salary bc you think it’s fair and equitable, but then find out that your coworker makes 50% more than you for no other reason than that they asked for it??? Bet you’re not ok with it anymore. Alison is right that this not just opens the door to the potential for gender, racial, and other types of inequality, but actually ushers it in, gives it a comfy chair, and offers it a beverage. People who know what to ask for will benefit, and people who don’t will lose. It happens often enough when you DO tell people the range. Good grief.

  92. New Senior Mgr*

    I was giving a serious side eye while reading this. LW, be better than this. Don’t contribute to this mind-cluster game. I’m glad you brought the question to Alison.

  93. Mothman*

    I felt icky just reading that. For me to show up happy and never complaining about money, I’d have to be at a million or more each year because that’s how much I’d need to never even think of money again. If I lived only eight hours away, double that.

    If I have to ever think of money, then I’m not always happy or uncomplaining. Life is hard and scary, and, unfortunately, money is the root of a lot of that.

    Also, I’d never broken down a mil into weekly pay before. It would take just over two weeks to make what I did when I started as a teacher, and it would take about a month to make what I make now that I’m out of education. Who the hell deserves this much??

    (Other than me. Obviously.)

    Don’t waste people’s time by not telling them how much they could make before they apply. Though I’m sure they appreciate being asked this during an interview, as it really sets the tone for the workplace…and not in a good way.

    1. Mothman*

      I mathed wrong. Good thing I wasn’t a math teacher. I wasn’t far off. More like two weeks and three weeks for teaching and current, respectively.

  94. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

    What in the world is this question. Just tell them what you’re offering upfront. Weird.

  95. Office Gumby*

    Seeing I’m currently job-hunting and this kind of thing is forefront in my head, my first answer was, “I will consider whatever salary my equivalent coworkers are making, possibly a little higher, if my experience is greater. What are they making? Otherwise, I’m happy with $1.2M.”

    My second thought is, “Whoa, is this a red flag or what?”

  96. Mark R*

    Two equal candidates show up and are asked the same question. The single mother of three kids asks for a lot more money than the fresh out of law school trust fund baby.

    I wonder who gets the job…

  97. Never the Twain*

    “Enough for me not to need to turn up at all in a year’s time.” That would motivate me.

  98. LL*

    I am astounded that someone working for a law firm can’t see how absolutely insane and disgusting this is, and needed to come to AAM for an answer. what on earth is wrong with your company?

  99. Sarah*

    Showing up happy is not just about salary. I could make probably 25% less and not grumble about money because I’d be ok financially. But I’d know I could make a lot more at another job. How am I treated within the organization? Do I sort of like what I’m doing or is it miserable? How much vacation time do I have? How much flexibility do I have? What’s the work/ life balance like? What are the benefits like? All of those things go into how happy I am to show up for work everyday. Also, I get not wanting people to grumble and complain all the time, but what’s wrong with just being ok with your job?

  100. DivergentStitches*

    I was at $55K for a project management position, got an offer for $85K and I was over the moon. Am at my new job and it’s just ok. But more importantly, we realized that $85K, while great, is still not what we need for getting ahead of bills. I’m not sure what exactly we were doing to stay afloat before, but I could really use more.

  101. SawBonzMD*

    I’m a third year Orthopedic Surgery resident and I’d be thrilled if I could break the $20/hour mark!

  102. JelloStapler*

    “since if you’re supposed to be there for the passion/prestige/fulfillment,”

    Higher Education has entered the chat.

  103. Fez Knots*

    I never want to be asked by a potential employer in person or on an application what I want to make EVER. AGAIN.

    Also 155 million a year would cure any of my grumpiness.

  104. PlainJane*

    As everyone has said, DON’T DO THIS. It’s ridiculous and obvious that you’re trying to lowball.

    If you want a start on what to make for a reasonable offer, look at average housing prices in your city, recognize that rent or mortgage should be about 30% of a person’s salary, and make that the bottom rung of your offer for any job. I mean, as long as you’re asking for advice.

  105. cris*

    I always hate these kinds of weird salary games that employers pay. You the employer KNOW what your budget/range is for that role’s salary. What is so hard about sharing that range with candidates and letting them decide if it’s acceptable to them????

  106. Candi*

    To that question:

    I’ll have researched the salaries for my area for that type of position, and if they’re public, the salaries at the company in question. This can be much easier if employees have LinkedIn profiles; a lot of people I saw had at least past salaries up.

    Then OP or coworker would’ve gotten in the top third of that range, so that I would have wiggle room to negotiate. Maybe a better healthcare package in exchange for coming down a bit.

    If they decided to just hand me that salary without negotiating that, and didn’t try and negotiate benefits, well, I might stay there a year or two for the money, but I’d be racking up my credentials for the next position. A company that doesn’t think doesn’t grow.

Comments are closed.