Can I Ask About Salary Before the Interview?

John Krautzel
Posted by

When you ask about salary before a job interview, you simply want to know if going through a lengthy interview process is worth your time and the company's time. Unfortunately, hiring managers and employers may not work that way. Discover how to inquire about salary ahead of an interview, even if it seems like a risky move.

Three Scenarios: Perhaps You've Heard of Them

Alison Green of Ask a Manager fields questions from employees about a wide range of workplace issues. One common theme is why companies bristle when you ask about salary ahead of a job interview. Take a look at three frustrating scenarios that people went through.

1. Not Even Looking

A recruiter approached one person on LinkedIn about a job opportunity, and the person wasn't even looking for a job. When the person started to ask about salary to consider a range, the recruiter said something about salary commensurate with experience before asking what kind of range the person wanted. The out-of-touch recruiter didn't realize that the person wasn't interested in finding another job.

2. Not Really Interested

If you ask about salary, you risk meeting interviewers who flat-out reject people who talk about money ahead of time. One company had a lengthy interview process, including a phone interview, a day-long interview, possibly a second interview, and then a test or work on a small project. One candidate asked for a range of salaries to make sure there was no waste of time from both parties. The hiring manager said that because the person asked about salary first, the candidate wasn't really interested in the position.

3. Significant Time Wasted

One candidate took a day and a half off of work for an interview, which was rescheduled, and the candidate landed the job. After everything checked out okay, the salary negotiations began. The employer gave the candidate a low-ball figure that was unacceptable. Knowing the salary beforehand would have saved everyone the trouble.

How to Back Up Salary Ranges

When you ask about salary, back up your claims with hard numbers. Reach out to colleagues and people you know at other companies to see if they’ll share how much money they make. Assess how much positions such as yours make by looking at Glassdoor and Payscale. You could even find job descriptions that list a salary range and compare them to the experience needed for the job you want. The more information you have, the better your standing when it comes to talking about salary.

Why Companies Hide Salaries from Candidates

There is one simple reason why companies hide salaries from candidates until the last minute. They want to hire top talent for the lowest possible amount of money. If a company budgets $50,000 for the position but someone is willing to work for $45,000, the employer saves money. Unfortunately, this practice disproportionately affects minorities and women, because statistically speaking, they are less likely to negotiate and often take whatever number they hear first.

Candidates who ask about salary may be at a disadvantage because employers try to keep those numbers a secret. Remember that the hiring process is a two-way conversation. If the company does not give you the right salary range you want, there are plenty of others willing to pay for your talents.

Photo courtesy of yodiyim at


Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.

  • Annie J.
    Annie J.


Jobs to Watch