Skip to main content

The Salary Question

It was once a part of most interviews: the “salary question.” Candidates tried to give the right answer. But times are changing.

It was a delicate balance for job-seekers to name the number that would lead to them being paid their worth, but not scare off potential employers. Meanwhile, employers were sometimes trying to gauge the lowest possible hit to the bottom line they could make. Those workers that had accepted lower compensation at a previous position due to family requirements, schedule flexibility or other life circumstances found themselves at a long-term disadvantage. By relying so heavily on past salary, pay gaps were often perpetuated for women and people of color.

In recent years, the question has been getting less play. Companies like Bank of America, Cisco and Amazon have placed internal bans on salary inquiries. States like Oregon and Massachusetts have enacted their own restrictions. (In some of these instances, however, an applicant can provide the information voluntarily.) What does this mean for employers and employees?

According to “The Salary Question Ban: Seven Ways to Change Your Hiring Approach,” hiring managers see some positives to these new policies.

  • It may refocus the process on finding the best talent and experience, rather than hiring based on decisions about the bottom line.
  • Market pay helps account for outside factors that may have forced an employee to accept a lower rate previously. They are paid for the current job at the rate that the market demands.
  • Employers will be forced to reevaluate the value of various positions to the company. It encourages them to think hard about return on investment and the importance of each position to the company.

To read more about these changes to the salary question, read “The Salary Question Ban: Seven Ways to Change Your Hiring Approach” in Forbes and “The Latest Trend in Employment Law: Banning Salary History Inquiries” in Law Journal Newsletters.

Subscribe today to get the latest industry news, resources, and career opportunities.