“So, where are you now in terms of salary?”
Never answer this question in a job interview. Treat it like “How much do you weigh?” Because it’s equally personal and inappropriate. It just happens to be incredibly common – but that is already changing. Salary history questions are discriminatory and harmful to candidates, especially women. Here’s why:
Don’t let your past dictate your future.
Especially if you have been underpaid or modestly paid, avoid answering this probing interview question, which has already been outlawed in several states and cities. This is the most important tip to earn a higher income when you change jobs.
All the other advice you’ll hear about negotiation is tactical on top of the foundation you either build or destroy based on how you handle this query.
I know it’s tough to dodge a question or play hardball when you really want a job. Ladies, it’s especially hard for us because we’ve been trained to be “nice” and accommodating all our lives. Screw that. Don’t accommodate someone who is trying to pay you less.
Now, you don’t want to appear uncooperative or difficult. Just be willing to deftly sidestep a question that no interviewer should ask you in the first place. Here’s how you can maneuver around the salary history question while maintaining a friendly, professional demeanor – and actually impressing the hiring manager with your savvy:
Don’t let being underpaid at your last job stop you from earning the salary you deserve!
Caveat: I do believe in salary transparency after you’re hired.
Namely amongst coworkers and peers, friends, and family. A rising tide lifts all boats. If we’d stop shrouding our salaries from our friends because we feel awkward about money and want to be “polite”, we’d all make more money. If you knew how much your parents made throughout your life, this would give you greater perspective on market rates for various roles, and what a given salary range could afford in terms of lifestyle. Do you have any idea what your parents made? It’s nebulous for most. Americans are so uncomfortable about money and sex but we bathe in violence.
Salary transparency post-hire and within companies is a good thing. And providing your desired salary range during the interview can be okay – though I recommend forcing the employer to be first to talk numbers. More on this soon. Click here to get an email when I post a new blog (usually 1-2 times a month).