How to Deal with Salary History Questions

by Evil HR Lady on January 12, 2011

Here’s a question that should be illegal and is definitely unethical. “What is your salary history?” I think companies have a lot of. . . nerve to ask what you have been paid in the past. Isn’t this confidential information between an employee and previous employers? I’d like to hear what other people on this board think about this subject or better yet, a story on BNET about this practice. I won’t be providing this answer in the future and I will be letting the company know that it is none of their business.

How to Deal with Salary History Questions

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous January 14, 2011 at 12:34 am

It's definitely none of their business, its seems like they want to see how much you made so they make sure not to pay you more than that.

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Anonymous January 20, 2011 at 2:39 am

I also feel it's out of line … especially as a pre-requisite for an interview. I do consider it privileged and confidential information. Moreover, asking for such personal information before they have even spoken to me and/or determined if they are interested in my qualifications is offensive. I do not give it.

That said … if you do not provide it, be prepared to lose the opportunity. Most jobseekers will give it because either a) they don't think they have a choice, or b) are afraid of not being considered. The second is a realistic concern. If more jobseekers would refuse to provide it, fewer companies would be able to get away with it. Until that time, it is an unfortunate reality that we have to deal with.

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Another Evil HR Director January 30, 2011 at 6:10 pm

However, you'd be pretty annoyed if after coming in for an interview you discovered what was budgeted for the position was well below what you'd need or accept. Just as an employer tries to avoid having someone in for an interview who is expecting more than the company can pay. Those are the main reasons companies ask for salary information. You are always free to choose not to give the information; but all choices have consequences. In this case, the condsequence may be not getting an interview.

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Anonymous July 7, 2011 at 1:05 pm

It seems to me if the company is concerned about the salary, they should post the salary and allow candidates to apply for the position that are willing to work for such a salary, more than demanding the salary history of the candidate. Some candidates may have resolved they will take less money to be in a different field or location, but hard to indicate that in salary history. It is an unfair lose lose situation.

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Tuna May 10, 2012 at 2:43 am

“The reality is”…. I too think we need legislation that prohibits companies from requiring your personal salary history.

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Sue B July 26, 2013 at 6:09 pm

The better statement for companies is to state (in the phone interview) “This positions pays (pay range) – are you interested in this?” That way the applicant knows if they need to step up to it to get that wage rate or if they need to bow out now and not waste time. Plus, the company gets more immediate feedback on what is considered reasonable from folks they have self-selected to interview. If you want lots of experience, certifications, etc be prepared to pay for it.

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