General Question

Paradox25's avatar

Do you think it can ever be justifiable to ask the person interviewing you for job about salary?

Asked by Paradox25 (9973 points ) April 11th, 2014

Generally the advice I’ve read states not to ask a potential employer about wages/salary during the first interview. However, do you agree with this advice, or feel there can be exceptions to this rule?

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15 Answers

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

The only exception I can think of is if the interview goes so well they offer you the job, then you will want to ask about salary.

JLeslie's avatar

Pretty much you have to follow the rule. It might mean the interview was a waste of your time, or that coming back for a second interveiw is a waste, because if you had known the salary you might have crossed them off your list to begin with, but following the etiquette is expected. If the interviewer brings it up, then you have no problems, but you can’t. Not on the first interview, unless there is a unique circumstance where it makes sense.

Funny, high powered jobs people have a ball park idea usually if an interview is worth their time. They often are working with a head hunter and the head hunter makes sure salary expectations are going to match up.

pleiades's avatar

I think it depends… Bachelor degree and below? Don’t ask… Masters Degree and up I’d ask, more leverage, more mmpph factor, more power.

stanleybmanly's avatar

There may be considerations to be weighed. Perhaps you’re desperate for the job, but as far as I’m concerned, I would prefer to know what my potential employer believes I might be worth. If they don’t offer the information, then I see nothing wrong with asking for a salary range. You should make the point tactfully that the information would quickly determine whether the 2 of you are wasting your time.

Symbeline's avatar

I agree with Jake, if they decide to hire you right on the spot, then you shouldn’t even have to ask, they should mention it if they’re making it all official. (and they usually tell you too, without you having to ask)

I would personally not ask during the interview though, as this would deviate away from your interest in the work itself. I mean even if you’re not interested in the work, you have to maintain the illusion that you are, and asking about salaries is a head shot in this case.

Mind now, I’m talking about every day low salary jobs, not career opportunities.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

Ask away. Your future employer wants to know if you are ballsy enough to ask.

KNOWITALL's avatar

TRICKY. is there no job posting with salary? Most EOE post to career center sites.

Cruiser's avatar

If you are as prepared as you should be for this interview for the job position you applied for you should already know within a thousand or two a year what that position compensation is worth. No need to ask and just wait for them to make their offer and be prepared then to accept or counter offer what you feel your skills are worth if they shoot too low.

Aristeia's avatar

NEVER ASK during a screening or first interview. The only time it is acceptable is if you’re switching industries or have no idea within a reasonable estimate how much the job pays. I’d phrase it as, “I’m not familiar with the compensation benchmarks in XYX industry, what are the typical benefits?”

Be prepared never to hear from them though.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

Ask about salary?

If you are offered the position you then start the process of negotiating salary.

Never just accept the first offer.

CWOTUS's avatar

I haven’t read the other responses, but of course it’s permissable to ask about salary! After all, it’s the primary reason that you’re applying for the job, isn’t it?

It’s appropriate after you have settled the other questions that the employer / interviewer has for you: Can you do the work? Do you have the required qualifications / certifications / licenses / training / education / other credentials / experience / references and permission to work in the jurisdiction? After that is settled, and the employer’s questions about you are satisfied (at least initially) – in other words, the employer has been satisfied that they’re not wasting their time interviewing you – it’s permissible for you to ask about what you will receive in return in the form of cash wages, working conditions, benefits, time off, moving assistance, etc. – all of the things that you expect to be working for, in other words.

That probably won’t occur during the first interview, however. So don’t ask that question too soon, before the employer is convinced that they’re not wasting time on you.

flutherother's avatar

There are some things you need to know when applying for a job. What will I be doing, what hours will I be working and how much will I be paid. I can’t see why any employer would want to withhold this information from applicants.

Paradox25's avatar

I was prompted to ask this question because of one recent job interview I’ve had. Usually I don’t ask the people interviewing me for a job, especially during the first interview, about pay. However not all employers give more than one interview before deciding whether to hire you or not, and I don’t work in a white collar or business field like most on this site appear to.

I made this one exception for a recent interview because this particular employer really seemed to want to have their cake and eat it, all with an attitude. They wanted a good electrician, electronics technician, computer programmer, someone proficient with programmable logical controllers (including the ability to program various types, foreign and American models), someone proficient with all types of computer programs, a rolling stock mechanic, a diesel mechanic, someone familiar with pneumatical and hydraulic systems, a quality MIG amd ARC welder, a quality machinist, etc, etc, etc.

They also ranted on about how they have no mechanics on their other shift and that I would have to work half of another shift, maybe frequently. They wanted someone with a minimal educational level being the equivalent of an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science or Specialized Technology. They had an attitude too while interviewing me, which I didn’t care for. I’m not sure if people on a site like this could understand my frustration because they’re likely not familiar with my field. Yes, you are expected to multitask in the maintenance field, but from being on the job twenty years this employer was kind of pushing it, and there’s no way I could go into everything else I experienced during this interview. Like for example, being a quality technician who’s proficient at programming and troubleshooting PLCs (which greatly vary) requires a large amount of training, it’s not something a jack-of-all-trades type is going to do.

I was to be interviewed by three different people from this company (aka sweatshop). My first interview was with the human resources manager, who was a very big guy who nearly tore my hand off when we shook hands. He went into some detail about the position, and even at that point I had decided to ask him about the salary. He told me that the next guy interviewing me would bring that up. The next guy who interviewed me was the maintenance manager himself. He of course went into even further detail about the job description, and again I had asked him about the salary for such a position. He too told me that he could not get into the details of the pay rate, and that perhaps the next person interviewing me would. The plant manager himself was supposed to interview me next. Instead I sat in the lobby for about an hour, only to see the human resources guy come out to tell me that the interview was over, and they thanked me for my time. I avoided shaking hands with him this time (they were still sore from the last handshake) and just waltzed out of the lobby very quickly.

I guess I had it in my mind I didn’t want the job at that point, so I didn’t mind asking about salary early on. The position is always being advertised in the help wanted ads and job sites though, which makes me wonder if they’re even serious about filling this position at times. I heard from others on job site comment forums that the pay rate (hourly, not salary) for that position was only around eleven dollars an hour to start. I could make hoagies at Sheetz for only two dollars an hour less where I live.

Cupcake's avatar

@Paradox25 What an unpleasant experience.

I would ask in the first interview. I (will VERY soon) have a Masters degree. I have a full time job at a company I have worked for well over a decade (with matching retirement contributions, unlimited sick time, 5 weeks vacation and lots of scheduling flexibility). I have excellent work experience. I would not leave my job for less than I currently make and would prefer $5000—$10,000 more per year. I would ask something like, “Can you tell me an approximate starting salary range for this position?” as a final question, if no mention of compensation was made.

The thing is that financial compensation is only one aspect of your “pay”. Is health care offered? How big are premiums? What is the deductible/copay? Do they match retirement contributions? Do they offer tuition coverage/discounts/reimbursement? Will they pay for my professional development? How many weeks of vacation? Will the hours be flexible? Can I work from home if my kid is sick? All of those things matter to me, and I wouldn’t have answers for most of them after the first interview. But if the salary was more than $10,000 less than my minimum, I would have to consider whether I wanted to put any more effort into the position.

Paradox25's avatar

@Cupcake Stress levels supersede everything else to me. Benefits have little meaning to me if the job is so horrible that I’m having nightmares while sleeping. I can deal with reasonable amounts of stress if I’m compensated for it pay wise, but pay and stress level of a job, no matter how high the pay, needs to be somewhat proportional to me.

I also don’t see the point of vacation time if I have to live at the plant. I’ve worked two jobs like that, and most of the time I couldn’t even use the few vacation days they gave me anyways. Their benefits were fair, not top notch, and again this combined with the other factors did not motivate me to want this job. I don’t feel like putting my life on the line or dealing with the stress level of keeping a plant running for eleven dollars an hour either. My sister makes five dollars an hour more than this just loading trailers.

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