Important Update: As of 10/1/2017, New York City prohibits any company or recruiter from asking about an employee's salary history. More US states have recently agreed to ban the practice of requesting salary history. See if you are affected locally by these new laws.
So, your interview is going smoothly until you are asked, “What is your salary history?” By then, you will have wished you read this article.
Most people dread discussing salary with friends and family. So much so, that it is considered rude to even bring up the discussion! Unfortunately, this is a fairly common question when an individual is on the job hunt.
There are a few ways to effectively answer this question without yelling, “None of your business!”
It all starts with the application
Many applications include “Salary History” or “Desired Salary” as one of the required fields. We advise that you do not disclose these figures at this point of your job search.
The number you provide could actually hurt your chances of being called in for an interview, regardless of your experience. If possible, use dashes or Asterisks in place of a value in order to fill the required text and move on with the application.
The goal here is to make sure you are considered for your qualifications and not rejected because of money. You will most likely be asked again, but establishing a ground in which you can negotiate later will only benefit you.
So you got a callback
If you have received a call for an interview, Congratulations! Now, many companies are different so whether you have 1 or 5 interviews to go through, try to withhold a dollar figure as long as possible. The company is not asking about your salary history just for fun.
They will use this number to gauge your market value. They will not disclose what they have paid people in a given position in the past, so why should you?! For further preparation, check out our blog of 50 Top Interview Questions and Answers.
When asked this question in an interview, keep in mind that the first person to disclose a figure loses. You should be able to flip the question on them fairly easily by asking for their expectations for the position. If they give you a certain range, you should use that figure as a STARTING POINT when negotiations start. This is because they are not going to throw out their top offer; you have to work for it!
You spilled the beans
Either you felt pressured or you assume that what you made previously aligns well with the future employer's expectations… That’s OK! As long as you are not asked to leave once you have disclosed a figure, it is not the end of the world.
Make sure that if you disclose your salary history, you tell the truth! Hiring managers can potentially verify your pay range, so lying would not help your chances in this scenario. Ideally, you have a realistic net worth in mind and the employer is not trying to “low-ball” you in terms of their offer. Remember to include bonuses and stock options if you choose to share your salary information. This will ensure that you receive a higher starting salary with the new company than if you were to leave these items out of your salary history. Good Luck!