Let's Cut to the Chase - How Much Does This Job Pay?
May 9, 2011 7:39 AM   Subscribe

Let's Cut to the Chase - How Much Does This Job Pay?

I am very happy at my job, but recently saw a job posting that seemed perfect for me. So I decided to take a chance and apply, figuring that it wouldn't hurt to at least get an interview (hopefully) and learn some more about the job. I was recently called by the search committee, and I have an interview coming up next week.

My current job is great. I enjoy the work, the location is great, I get along well with my co-workers, etc. The only thing that would make me decide to leave would be if this other job pays more. I have a dollar figure in mind as the minimum that would persuade me to leave my current great job.

The job listing did not mention anything about the salary, and I'm naturally eager to find out this information, since it is likely to be a deal-breaker for me. I know they say it's not appropriate to bring up salary in an interview, but is there some point (possibly afterward) where I can bring it up? I think my chances for this job are pretty good, so do I just have to wait until I am (possibly) offered the job before I can ask about this? I just think that since this would be a deal-breaker for me, it would save time for both of us if I could find this out sooner.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think the problem is that companies prefer not to hire people for whom the job's primary selling point is a better salary, and they prefer not to hire people who can be poached away from them purely for a better salary. By asking this question before you have a firm offer, you self-identify into both populations.
posted by d. z. wang at 7:42 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can you try Glassdoor.com for salary comps?

While I agree with d. z. wang that you don't want to advertise that the only reason you're taking the new job is for the pay--but I think it also behooves everyone to establish early in the process what are the parties' broad outlines of the salary expectations. If you're seeking a $100K job, and they think this is a $30K job, you'll never bridge that gap. If you think it's a $100K job, and they think it's an $85K job, you might come to terms. Obviously, don't negotiate on salary until you get the job, though.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:49 AM on May 9, 2011


I wouldn't lead the interview with it, but if you can't find out the answer any other way, I think it's an ok question to drop into the end of the interview as sort of a "by the way, what sort of salary range are you looking at for this position? Job interviews are supposed to be about fit on both sides of the table, and if your target salary ranges are $80k apart, that's obviously an aspect of fit that is important.
posted by craven_morhead at 7:58 AM on May 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


I wouldn't lead the interview with it, but if you can't find out the answer any other way, I think it's an ok question to drop into the end of the interview as sort of a "by the way, what sort of salary range are you looking at for this position? Job interviews are supposed to be about fit on both sides of the table, and if your target salary ranges are $80k apart, that's obviously an aspect of fit that is important.

++

You don't want to try and negotiate an exact figure during the interview, but getting a range is perfectly reasonable.
posted by alaijmw at 8:15 AM on May 9, 2011


Go through the interview without broaching the salary expectations, as that's the correct professional impression to make on an initial interview. When I interview with companies and they bring up salary first thing, and especially when they press me hard to give the number, this is a HUGE red flag to me, and I believe this to be true in the reverse case as well.

It's good to go through interview processes, it's a skill that gets better with practice. Get away from thinking that you need to get the salary question out of the way so nobody wastes anyone's time. If you end up not quite on the same page with salary and have gone through a few rounds of interviews, that is not a waste of time. You may leave a good impression for a job down the line at the same place. You may have learned something in the interview process with this company that serves you well interviewing with another company.
posted by mcstayinskool at 8:21 AM on May 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


mcstayinskool: "If you end up not quite on the same page with salary ... You may have learned something in the interview process with this company..."

And conversely, if they keep finding good candidates who turn them down, the company may also learn that the salary they are offering is not reasonable.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 8:28 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I recently had a discussion with the HR person at a local company. She brought up salary early on in our first phone conversation. It wasn't a dealbreaker, but we quickly resolved that they paid well below what I thought "market" was. I'd still love to have lunch with some of her technical people, but I'm probably not a fit for their company (unless my personal economy really goes to hell... never say never).

I don't think it's at all unreasonable to say "I'm excited about the opportunities here, I respect you, and I want to make sure that we're not wasting each other's time. Obviously this depends on benefits, indirect compensation, and how much I think I'm going to enjoy the work, the environment, and my coworkers but I'm looking at the $110k to $130k range. Is this in-line with your expectations?"

If they say "no", then you can have a discussion about why they think their environment compensates for not paying market rates. Maybe there's something else there that would make you want to move?
posted by straw at 8:39 AM on May 9, 2011


I would ask someone in the company’s HR department what the salary range for the position is before you go through the interview process. I have had to interview candidates and hire for positions at my agency and it is a very time consuming process. It takes away from my regular job duties and I often have to rearrange my schedule to make time for it. I would be less than pleased if I had gone through all that, found a person I wanted to hire, and then had them decline the offer because of the salary. While the experience may be a good one for you to develop interviewing skills, it would be a huge waste of time for me. I would much prefer to know up front if what we pay is in the range that the candidate is willing to accept.
posted by Palmcorder Yajna at 8:54 AM on May 9, 2011


If someone came in for an interview with me, and they weren't aware of the salary range for the position, it's the first thing I would tell them. If they didn't ask at all I'd be worried they were looking for anything, and might not be worth hiring.

It the company's job to specify the range, and your job to convince them where you fit in that range.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:24 AM on May 9, 2011


OP's question was, "so do I just have to wait until I am (possibly) offered the job before I can ask about this?"

Even if the answer is "yes", would this be a problem for you? In other words, is the chance that the job is in the sweet spot on your desired salary range worth the time you'll take to prepare for and sit through the interview? Seems you've gone this far and that the marginal burden to take the next step is worth it.

I definitely would not lead with the salary question, but I would look for an appropriate time to bring it up. I've been through day-long interview scenarios where the last person is an HR person. If you are talking to a dedicated HR person that is probably a good time to find out the range, although I wouldn't expect anything more than a range unless you're talking about a really low-level position.
posted by QuantumMeruit at 12:43 PM on May 9, 2011


As someone looking for work, I've noticed lately the interviewer brings up salary a lot earlier on in the process than in the past. Unfortunately, they ask it in the "how much are you looking to make?" instead of volunteering a range. Another approach is they'll ask you how much you're making now, if they're thinking a much lower number than you're making now, they'll tell you. I don't know what happens if their number is significantly higher as that hasn't happened to me yet.
posted by birdherder at 3:51 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


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