Being asked about salary expectations is almost always the most awkward part of a job interview. But it is equally or even more uncomfortable when a candidate is asked how much they earn in their current job. Should information about salaries be fully public so that the financial aspects of a job offer are no longer an issue?
One of the questions that candidates find the most difficult to answer during a job interview is about financial expectations. They are afraid that their expectations may be either too high or too low. It’s always a good idea to do some research before the job interview, not only studying salary reports but also asking friends who work in the same industry. A safe option is to provide a pay scale of 15-20 percent.
Only 10 percent of Polish companies include information about pay in job listings, while as much as 90 percent of candidates would like to have that information available. Meanwhile, publishing pay scales in job listings is common practice in many European countries (e.g. the UK, Germany and the Netherlands) as well as in the US. In Poland, it is mainly IT companies and state-owned employers who disclose pay information. In the tech industry it is difficult to attract candidates to even consider recruitment without providing salary information beforehand.
A systemic solution making it obligatory to publish salary information in job listings raises some questions. Many companies don’t want to disclose pay information because of their competition or because they are afraid that current employees may start comparing their own salaries with newcomers.
On the other hand, it would certainly make recruitment more transparent and effective. An increasing number of companies in Poland have decided to disclose pay scales anyway in order to save candidates’ and their own time. I think it will gradually become a standard market practice.
Current pay taboo
The question about current pay is also frequently asked at job interviews. There are many different views on how to answer this question, sometimes conflicting ones. Some say it is better to avoid answering the question by going straight for pay expectations, others recommend giving a straightforward answer stating the salary and bonuses and how much the candidates wants to earn depending on the scope of responsibilities in the new job.
A candidate is by no means obliged to answer the question about their current pay. During recruitment, candidates choose to talk about their current pay unsolicited. We don’t ask about that. For example, in New York asking about pay history is forbidden.
But if the question should arise, we should bear in mind that sometimes employees have contractual clauses preventing them from discussing pay. Besides, pay expectations are always more important for the recruiter than how much the candidate makes in their current job.