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When Is It Appropriate to Ask About Salary?

Ask Savvy: Can I Ask About Salary Before the Interview?

Dear Savvy,

Is it totally inappropriate to ask about the salary range of a job up front (before the interview)? I've applied for a job that sounds right up my alley, but that I think might be entry level (I've been in the field for several years). Before I waste my time and the company's time, can I ask what the salary is?

To see my answer just

A: If you haven't been asked to interview yet, you can ask the human resources representative for a salary range when she initially invites you to interview. It's inappropriate and tacky to ask about salary before the company contacts you — they'll think you're just focused on the money and your chances of getting the opportunity to interview would be slim.

Depending on the company's size and organizational structure, someone other than a human resources rep may initially contact you. If that's the case, it would be inappropriate to ask that person about salary. Do some research online to figure out the general salary for the position, and since you're already working in the field you should already have some insight.

There are instances where different companies will pay drastically different salaries to do the same job (so frustrating, but true). If you're over qualified and the company where you've applied could use your extra experience, they may even tweak the job description to better suit what you can bring to the table. You never know, so don't blow an opportunity by inappropriately asking about salary.

As a final, related note: Money shouldn't be discussed during the interview unless the interviewer brings it up. It's usually on her agenda and she'll get to it if she thinks it's worth discussing with you.

Good luck with the job search!

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manishal manishal 7 years
i think negotiating the salary is the most embarrising part. Lol i rem although im quite assertive, when it comes to talking about money, i always feel ashamed to demand the salary i deserve. I read this article of how and exactly when during an interview u ahould ask for the salary... it might just help u too http://www.idiva.com/idiva/bin/view/idiva/WorkandlifeMoneymantrafatgettingtherightsalary
juju4 juju4 8 years
I call a lot of people in for interviews, and I would never bring someone in without asking what type of salary they are looking for. I agree with those that said it is a waste of time for both parties if you aren't on the same page. And I think the best way to make your case for how much money you deserve would be based on your skills, salary history, and work history. Comparing yourself to what others are making in that neighborhhood wouldn't matter to me. Maybe another company pays more for the position, but offers less benefits or has the need for a more seasoned employee.
LuciLu LuciLu 8 years
thats awesome cubadog! good luck on your interview! :D
cubadog cubadog 8 years
Lucilu I had the same thing happen last week for a project manager position. I am interviewing with a competitor so they know what my company pays. I find the earlier the salary question comes up in the process the more you have impressed them on paper! I am off to my 3rd and hopefully final interview today!
LuciLu LuciLu 8 years
i JUST had a phone interview for an analyst postion, and the recruiter flat out asked me what i made at my old job, and gave me the salary range for this current position. i didnt think it would come so soon, but took it as a good sign, so i answered honestly and said i would like to be making at least what i did at my previous employer. she said "that sounds good" and told me that someone from their HR dept would be calling for another phone interview. so apparently it can be done! (but she started it, not me!) ;)
Marci Marci 8 years
The picture IS a funny choice for this topic! :) I've been interviewing the last few months and the salary topic seems to get discussed at all different stages depending upon the company or person you have contact with. But most places make it a key topic in the initial phone interview and that gets it out on the table. But I'm not so sure why salary should be left to discussion after the interview because if they're paying isn't in my range, why waste their time and mine? I had a fantastic interview once; the woman loved me; I loved her. When she asked what salary I was looking for, she actually started screaming at me that they couldn't afford to pay me that and why did I waste her time? I was completely baffled since I'd had the salary range discussion with their HR person. When I told her that, she called the woman right there on speakerphone, as if to prove me wrong. The woman had to admit that she hadn't weeded out candidates based on salary, hoping the right person might change their mind and accept the salary. I couldn't believe anyone would think that I'd love their job enough to take a $15,000 cut in pay.
Liss1 Liss1 8 years
I will ask at the interview if it is not stated before. I am sorry but i can't afford to take a job for less money than my current one so that is something that i need to know. once i interviewed with a company for an admin assitant job and they asked me what i was making now and i told them and they said that i wouldn't make anything near that as it was only a receptionist job. Hello, they just told me it was admin job and i wasn't making a ton to start with so i was not going to take $6/hr less. I also made a lot more when i was a receptionist than they were offering. So it is something you need to know before you waste your time going back for another interview.
aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
Useful advice. I guess I would find it a tad hard to do since money does matter but...if it is that much of a potential deal breaker NOT to ask well then...I guess it's a no no from now on.
PeachyKeen19 PeachyKeen19 8 years
Others thing to keep in mind about salary...there are a lot of companies that don't have a set pay range in mind. They come up with a wage after interviewing all the candidates, selecting the best one, and evaluating their choice's experience. And it never hurts to interview, even if you don't end up with that company or that specific job. You never know if there is something else at the company you could do or if you could make a contact to get you a job somewhere else. This is something I really agree with, I think a lot of times this is one way a company determines salary. There isn't always a set wage. Good point :)
PeachyKeen19 PeachyKeen19 8 years
I think this is great and absolutely useful advice.
sophia_HL sophia_HL 8 years
I usually end up interviewing with women, so perhaps you could be more forward with a man but not with a woman. I actually asked up front once, and the woman actually scoffed at me over the phone. I still got an interview, but did not get the job.
hotstuff hotstuff 8 years
I just had a conversation about this topic with my dad, he's a director and hires tons of people. I told him about the question and said the answer was that it's "tacky" to ask about salary up front. He said is this answer from a woman, I said yes how did you know? He said that's why women make less than men they think differently and are afraid to ask those questions up front! He said most people that he deals with want to know three things before they come in for an interview, whats the salary, benefits, and hours. I thought that was interesting to share.
erratic-assassin erratic-assassin 8 years
LMAO @ cather1ne! that's so friggin true! PIG!! lmao... okay, I always ask as I feel the interview coming to an end. I have a right to know, right? of course I'm there for the money...it's a JOB! a task you do in order to make a living and ends meet. i dont think it's rude.
cather1ne cather1ne 8 years
I do see that the picture of this "interview" is inappropriate LOL. Look at this guys eye...PIG!
hotstuff hotstuff 8 years
I personally see nothing wrong with asking about salary upfront! I think for most people/families this is one of the most important aspects of your job. It also doesn't always make sense to be satisfied with research online of what the job pays because guess what a lot of companies don't care what their "supposed" to pay you. I say if the interview is close to your home and it's not a big deal for you to drop in for it and wait, pray, and hope that they bring up your salary then go ahead and just do that. But, what if the job is far or half way across the country I certainly wouldn't waste my time in traveling back and forth only to find out that I could never survive on their salary! "It's inappropriate and tacky to ask about salary before the company contacts you — they'll think you're just focused on the money and your chances of getting the opportunity to interview would be slim." If you do call ahead and ask about salary before they contact you, how will they know it's you calling and that you applied? They would most likely think your some random person calling for a salary range! It's not like you have to give your name. I mean you also have to use common sense and realize that some jobs no matter what, salary would never be revealed over the phone but most hospital and service type positions have a set range and I see nothing wrong with asking what it is!
bellaressa bellaressa 8 years
I always ask the HR representative when they call and do an initial interview just the range and for a job description (if available). I further go to salary.com and research the position and the salary range for my area (the site gives three on the site: a low, medium, and high end). I never bring up salary until I am asked usually the second interview and if I think it is low balled, I bring up my research findings and explain why I think I deserve more.
Phasekitty Phasekitty 8 years
ashcwebb- that's usually how I slip it in too! If you go through a rigorous interview process (ie., applications, phone interviews, in person interviews, etc.) I think at that point you have a right to know. Of course, if they haven't brought it up at all during the interview process, maybe they're thinking that you won't be a great fit. I have no idea...I've been working freelance too long... :?
cubadog cubadog 8 years
Unless your invited to interview you should not ask about the salary. They will bring it up during the interview if they think you are a good fit. Also there are many tools available on-line to figure out what that job in your field pays. I know in the industry that I am in there is a standard that most companies follow if you bring more to the table you will make more.
bfly1133 bfly1133 8 years
Others thing to keep in mind about salary...there are a lot of companies that don't have a set pay range in mind. They come up with a wage after interviewing all the candidates, selecting the best one, and evaluating their choice's experience. And it never hurts to interview, even if you don't end up with that company or that specific job. You never know if there is something else at the company you could do or if you could make a contact to get you a job somewhere else.
discocactus discocactus 8 years
I never really understood, but followed this "don't ask about the money in an interview" rule. Obviously a job does have a lot to do about the money, and it would be nice to know the range before you apply. Oh well.
books-and-shoes books-and-shoes 8 years
If the position sounds like a good fit for you, then I'd go ahead with the interview even if you can't figure what the salary is beforehand. Once I had an interview but found out afterward that the salary was not up to par with what I was looking for. The company however wanted me enough to immediately offer an extra $6K.
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 8 years
I always ask AFTER the interview when they ask if I have any questions. I try to slip it in there. Because, money DOES matter to me...sorry but it's the awful truth ;)
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