Asking About Compensation

Written by: Mark Rowbottom
President of Recruiters of Wisconsin

You need to know about the compensation question!

In the United States, several states and localities have implemented laws prohibiting employers from asking about an applicant’s salary history during the hiring process. The intent behind these laws is to address gender pay gaps and promote pay equity. The idea is to prevent the perpetuation of wage gaps that may exist between genders.

As of January 2022, some states with salary history bans include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, among others. It’s important to note that these laws can change, so it’s advisable to check for any updates or changes in legislation since my last update.

I encourage both employers and candidates to stay informed and adapt their practices accordingly to ensure compliance with applicable laws. If you have any specific questions or need more information, feel free to ask us.

How should I answer questions about my compensation expectations when interviewing?

The first thing I want to address is for candidates to focus and put their interviewing efforts towards getting AN offer and not discussing one.

When addressing questions about compensation expectations during an interview requires a delicate balance. Here are some tips to help you navigate this topic effectively:

  • Research Market Salaries:

Before the interview, research industry standards and typical salaries for the position you’re applying for in your location. This will give you a baseline for your expectations.

  • Delay Specifics if Possible:

If you can, try to defer discussing specific salary figures until you have a better understanding of the job requirements and the employer’s expectations. This allows you to provide a more informed response.

  • Focus on The Culture and the Company

Talk about how important who the people you are working for and alongside is to you. Discuss what the culture is like, and how rewarding the work would be will have importance in your career decisions. Instead of fixating solely on the base salary, consider the overall job satisfaction. Compensation packages, including benefits, bonuses, and other perks will tend to work themselves out with a diplomatic approach. Learn to say, ‘It’s not all about the Money’ and mean it.

  • Provide a Range:

When asked about salary expectations, offer a range rather than a specific number. This allows for negotiation and demonstrates flexibility. Ensure that the range aligns with industry standards.

  • Express Openness to Negotiation:

Communicate that you are open to discussing and negotiating the compensation package. This shows flexibility and a willingness to find a mutually beneficial arrangement.

  • Stay Positive:

Approach the discussion with a positive and collaborative mindset. Emphasize your enthusiasm for the role and the company, rather than making compensation the sole focus.

Remember, every Company and interview is unique, and your approach may vary based on the company culture and the dynamics of the conversation. It’s crucial to strike a balance between being transparent about your expectations and remaining flexible during negotiations.

Finally, no one really cares about what you want until they want you. So go out there and get AN offer!