The Hidden Truth Behind Guessing Salaries in Job Interviews

William Lewis

Updated Monday, May 13, 2024 at 8:45 AM CDT

The Hidden Truth Behind Guessing Salaries in Job Interviews

The Humiliation and Money-Saving Tactics

In some job interviews, employers employ a rather unconventional tactic - they make candidates guess the salary by asking them to write down their salary expectations on the application. While this may seem like a harmless request, the practice can often lead to humiliation if the candidate guesses the salary wrong. Moreover, the underlying purpose of this tactic is to save money for the employer.

The primary reason behind making candidates guess the salary is to cast a wider net of applicants. By not disclosing the actual starting salary, employers can attract candidates who may have otherwise been discouraged from applying. This allows them to have a larger pool of potential hires to choose from, giving them more options during the selection process.

However, this practice can be quite frustrating for candidates. If a candidate asks for a salary that is too high, the employer will inform them that it is too high and provide the actual starting salary for the position. This can be embarrassing and may leave the candidate feeling undervalued. It also puts the candidate at a disadvantage during the negotiation process, as they have already revealed their expectations.

To navigate this situation, it is advisable for candidates to state that their salary expectations are negotiable. This allows for flexibility and ensures that candidates consider all benefits when making a decision. If the employer offers a lower salary than expected, candidates can inquire about the benefits associated with the position and negotiate for a better salary or decide if it is worth pursuing.

Employers often use this practice to force candidates to name the first number during salary negotiations. By doing so, they can anchor the negotiation in their favor and potentially push the salary downward. Candidates should be cautious about accepting a job offer from an interviewer who uses this practice, as it may be an indication of the company culture and their approach to compensation.

It's important to note that salary negotiations are typically handled by HR, not the interviewers themselves. Bringing up salary during the interview can give away leverage, as the information provided may be passed on to HR. Therefore, it is recommended to wait until receiving a salary offer before starting the negotiation process.

To prepare for salary negotiations, candidates should conduct research on salary ranges for similar roles. Websites like Glassdoor can be valuable resources for researching market salaries. This information can help candidates determine a reasonable salary expectation and provide them with the confidence to negotiate effectively.

In some states, such as Colorado in the USA, salaries are required to be disclosed on job listings. This can be advantageous for candidates as it helps in determining a reasonable salary expectation. Candidates can also ask the interviewer about the salary range budgeted for the position, based on their research and the need for more information on the role and responsibilities.

When offered a salary, candidates should compare it to their expectations and consider asking for around 10% more or additional benefits. Negotiating for a better offer is a common practice and should be done confidently. Emphasizing one's experience and the responsibilities of the role can strengthen the case for a higher salary.

The practice of making candidates guess the salary in job interviews can be both humiliating and a money-saving tactic for employers. Candidates should approach this situation with caution and consider all aspects, including benefits, before making a decision. Researching market salaries, waiting for a salary offer, and negotiating confidently can help candidates secure a fair compensation package.

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