Why the Salary Discussion Should Be the First Part of the Interview, Not the Last

I stumbled upon this post on LinkedIn.

I strongly disagree with the concept that it’s a mistake to ask about salary at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what the business’s mission is, how flexible they are, or if it would allow me to simply sit in a leather chair and dispense wisdom. I’m not interested if it doesn’t mean a minimum salary requirement.

If you think you can attract candidates with a lowball offer because of your company, you don’t value your employees. (Yes some people are willing to work for less for non-profits that they support, but even so, they need a minimum salary level to consider it.)

As someone who does a lot of speaking and writing, compensation is the very first question I ask when someone approaches me. There are a good number of organizations that expect me to work for them for free. I don’t work for free. So, rather than waste their time and my time by talking about other details first, I ask for compensation straight up.

Salary is a necessary but not sufficient reason to sign on with someone. It should always be the first screening question a job seeker asks. Otherwise, you’re just wasting each other’s time.

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15 thoughts on “Why the Salary Discussion Should Be the First Part of the Interview, Not the Last

  1. I completely agree. I worked for a budget-restricted college for 9+ years and started all interviews with a salary discussion. We couldn’t negotiate or increase salaries, heck, we went 5+ years without raises! I spoke of all the other benefits and then people could decide whether to continue the interview or not. Why play games or waste someone’s time?

  2. I couldn’t agree more. It also doesn’t matter what your current salary or salary history is.

  3. One more reason why job postings should include the salary range. It saves everyone’s time and energy, and spares the applicant from having to agonize over when to raise the issue.

  4. I absolutely agree with you, which is why salary ranges should always be posted in the job listing. It saves everyone a lot of time and effort.

  5. 100% agree, especially in my area where affordable housing is a serious issue and we are losing talent to other states as a result. It is one of the first things discussed during a phone interview. I hate to waste an applicant’s time if there is no way I can meet their salary requirement. Not fair to them. Not fair to me.

  6. In a more perfect hiring world, any employer refusing to disclose salary ranges upfront would be viewed with the serious side-eye they deserve.

  7. If asking about salary first thing reduces your chances of being hired, you’ve dodged a bullet.

  8. I completely agree! There is nothing worse than getting a candidate moved through the process just to find out they require WAY more money than the org is willing/able to pay.

  9. I just want to know where that job of sitting in a leather chair and dispensing wisdom is and are they hiring?

    1. I sit in my chair and dispense wisdoms all the time. My cat isn’t particularly impressed, however …

  10. I agree with posting the salary range but I’ve been seeing that range listed as $85,000 – $175,000 which makes it useless. How do you justify a 90K pay variance for 1 role?

    1. Yes, that is pretty useless. But, it also gives the applicant a natural opportunity to ask about it during the interview without running the risk of seeming totally focused only on compensation.

      1. In a better world, it would be understood that compensation IS the number one reason an applicant is there. If folks didn’t need money, they wouldn’t be looking for a (better) job!

  11. I interviewed for a company that is notorious for doing multiple (3 to 10 (yes, 10)) interviews, and I asked straight out after the first interview what the salary range was (it wasn’t posted). I was expecting a lower salary than what I was making, but the position was about 50% of what I was making. Imagine if I hadn’t asked, and progresses through the interviews, how much time everyone would have wasted?

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