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Asking about salary during recruitment process

(63 Posts)
spongebobsleftsock Thu 30-Jul-20 21:29:38

Hi everyone,

Is it normal to apply for a job and go through the whole process to point of offer without knowing the salary the potential employer is offering?

I'm currently applying for a senior position within a large financial services organisation, had the first interview which went really well and now onto round two which includes a particularly gruelling presentation in front of the whole leadership team and an enormous amount of prep work. This is a direct hire rather than via a recruitment agency, and I was approached by the hiring manager as we've known each other for years.

However, they won't tell me what the salary is, even a ballpark figure. I've asked twice, and they've said this is something to be discussed if I'm successful on the next (final) stage. They do definitely have a figure in mind.

I'm just finding this a bit strange as in previous positions I've always had an idea of salary prior to interview, and I'm slightly worried that I am going to be doing hours of work to prep for this interview and might end up not taking the job because the salary doesn't meet my needs.

Does anyone have experience of this? Is it weird or am I just lucky to have not come across this before?

OP’s posts: |
PegasusReturns Thu 30-Jul-20 21:40:00

It is strange not to even be given a ballpark and frankly weird given that the HM is someone you know well.

In my experience it’s also unusual for senior roles in private companies to come with “a figure in mind” - usually the parameters are so wide and will be tailored to meet the successful candidates expectations.

Since quite a lot of effort goes in to defining an appropriate comp package it’s more usual for the hiring manager to at least confirm that they’d be able to meet your expectations.

PegasusReturns Thu 30-Jul-20 21:48:58

I’d chat with the the HM, saying something along the following lines:

“I really enjoyed meeting the leadership team and I’m definitely interested in the role. Since the next stage requires a significant time commitment from the CEO/whoever, I want to ensure I don’t waste anyone’s time. My current package is x, made up of base, bonus, stock etc. Does an uplift of Y align with your expectations in terms of an offer”

spongebobsleftsock Thu 30-Jul-20 21:52:14

Thanks @PegasusReturns.

This is a bit of a step up for me, and I'm more inclined to be led by them in terms of salary rather than me disclosing my current salary to give them a chance to potentially reduce whatever figure they have in mind if that makes sense. Not that they've even asked about my expectations!

I'd like them to give an idea of their thoughts so I can then consider it ahead of discussions post-second interview (hopefully!) and be in a confident place to start negotiations. And to make sure this isn't dead in the water before it starts.

OP’s posts: |
spongebobsleftsock Thu 30-Jul-20 21:55:23

Also now I've asked twice, I feel a little awkward asking again in case they think I'm just about the salary grin

OP’s posts: |
PMTRex Thu 30-Jul-20 21:56:50

It's really odd from a recruitment and selection perspective not to give some indication of salary- you risk great people not applying cos they don't know if the salary will meet their expectations and/ or they don't want to put all that effort into a process only to be told after a gruelling selection process that the max salary is way below what they want.

And disappointed candidates always tell their friends about their recruitment experience so there's a reputational risk too.

Honesty and transparency are the best policies in recruitment and selection I find!

PegasusReturns Thu 30-Jul-20 22:00:26

I’d be really surprised if they gave you an indication without you disclosing your current salary, they will almost certainly base their offer based on your current position.

As an example the last role I recruited the standard salary range varied by almost 6 figures, by the time stock, bonus, sign ons etc are taken into account the variation can be really significant so you have to be led by current salary.

Overthisnonsensedotcom Thu 30-Jul-20 22:11:02

Do not disclose your salary under any circumstances! They can make vague overtures to what you are currently on. They cannot directly ask. Return the favour. Once you are in and on a certain package, you will be subject to likely max % uplift year on year without Senior sign off, so if you go in on a lower package through keenness or good intentions, you will never catch up. This is exactly why a firm can no longer ask directly about your current package

Think Sphinx. They will come up with a number if you keep politely saying you’d rather not state your exact package but “all in it’s generous”. Look semi sad and mutter about at least 30% more while smiling and saying how this firm excites you and role sounds amazing and looking wistful. Please do this. You will end up with at least 10% more than their initial offer.

PegasusReturns Thu 30-Jul-20 22:17:48


I really don’t think that is good advice for a senior role.

Ijustreallywantacat Thu 30-Jul-20 22:21:20

Acting coy and muttering and smiling weirdly does not do you any favours when negotiating.
Be firm and decisive.

Overthisnonsensedotcom Thu 30-Jul-20 22:23:47

Depends on industry. I completely understand that. For what it’s worth, I’m regional leadership level for a multi national firm. You have no idea what numbers, base and discretionary, they have in mind. Find out from them. They cannot ask about your current package. Hint and shimmy about what it is. Ask about their approach to buy out of Current employer vested comp, even if you don’t have anything vested. Seriously. These are appropriate questions regardless of level and women’s reticence to ask this is what let’s us be paid what we will accept instead of what we are worth. In every industry.

ConiferGate Thu 30-Jul-20 22:28:37

Have a look to see if they publish their gender pay gap and any other data, it can tell you quite a lot about the pay / seniority culture which may (or may not) give you reassurance you’ll be treated fairly.

2020wasShocking Thu 30-Jul-20 22:28:53

How strange is that. If they turn around and say it’s £25k and you’ve left your current role of £55k. Clearly you’re not going to take their offer up!

I find it bizarre they potentially waste people’s time.

What would you expect it to be roughly?

PegasusReturns Thu 30-Jul-20 22:29:57


On what basis are you saying the company can’t ask your current salary, assuming OP is in U.K.?

Overthisnonsensedotcom Thu 30-Jul-20 22:33:10

Look. If it’s an industry norm, hold out for top band. If it’s genuinely a leadership role, band could be gbp 150 between what they are prepared to pay and what they offer. I’ve seen it. And it never ever catches up.

Don’t smile weirdly or whatever the others suggested. Be businesslike and if they ask about current package say very pleasantly, something along the lines of, “well I’ve had so many opportunities at my current firm to learn and develop, which is why I feel the move upwards this new role you have is the right Move for me now. I know I’m excited to be meeting so many people from the New firm and you would not keep meeting me if the firm did not think I am a good fit to your role so I’m keen to hear the package this firm has in mind for this role. “

Overthisnonsensedotcom Thu 30-Jul-20 22:36:38

If they persist you say, I loved my last job and the firm was very good to me and trained me and developed me, but I’ve outgrown the role. I stayed so long as I had such a great relationship with leadership, learned so much about the industry, had so much training, but I’m ready to step up now and I Know that extra responsibility will come with both additional financial package and accountabilities, as is to be expected.

Username7521 Thu 30-Jul-20 22:40:03

Over a certain role (mostly exec members) there is no set salary. We get the number and play with the p&l to make it work!

Please don't disclose your current salary.
What do you want? What do you think the role is worth and depending on that figure add 5-15%.

Is it so unique that you can’t benchmark?

spongebobsleftsock Thu 30-Jul-20 22:41:14

Thanks all, some really great things to think about here. I just wasn't sure if this was normal or not when you got to a certain level, and it's really thrown me to be told directly that it's not to be discussed now by the company.

I think for now I have to just focus on the prep work and actually getting the job, then start the negotiations. The imposter syndrome is already kicking in and I have to keep reminding myself that I actually do know what I'm talking about!

OP’s posts: |
Overthisnonsensedotcom Thu 30-Jul-20 22:41:40


Maybe it’s an industry thing. We would never ask current package on hire though there is an understanding within the industry of packages at certain levels but acknowledged that moving across firms is the only way to make massive leaps. To be fair my level we are talking about packages from gbp 150 up so liars poker is a thing. Sorry op did say it was a jump upward.

PegasusReturns Thu 30-Jul-20 22:41:58

I’m confused - overthis have you had a name change fail?!

You suggest smiling, shimmying and acting coy and then say don’t smile weirdly or whatever other people suggest. You’re the only person who suggested that approach confused confused

spongebobsleftsock Thu 30-Jul-20 22:43:29


Over a certain role (mostly exec members) there is no set salary. We get the number and play with the p&l to make it work!

Please don't disclose your current salary.
What do you want? What do you think the role is worth and depending on that figure add 5-15%.

Is it so unique that you can’t benchmark?

It's not unique as such, but it is a new role for them. I can hazard a guess at what I'd think it was worth, but now I'm doubting myself. Think I've spent too long pondering over it.

I'll do some research on similar roles and try to back up my assumptions, at least for my own confidence.

OP’s posts: |
PegasusReturns Thu 30-Jul-20 22:46:30

@spongebobsleftsock how senior are you talking?

That does make a difference.

Which level will you be reporting to? CEO / other c-suite / direct report of c-suite. MNC or U.K. only?

Overthisnonsensedotcom Thu 30-Jul-20 22:48:02

Hi PegasusReturns
I say smile and be coy on detail. If I suggested shimmy, it was in the sense of pivot, segue on to benefits. Shimmy as in, be amenable but don’t be pinned down. Never ever ever flirt. Ever. Short lifespan

ReceptacleForTheRespectable Thu 30-Jul-20 22:48:14

You must have an idea what the market range for this role is. You will have contacts who could help you work it out, surely? Establish what the market range is, and work out where you expect to be in that range. Then tell them straight up what minimum package you would be expecting. Make clear that you would like to know before the interview if they would not be prepared to pay that amount, as you don't want to waste your or their time.

Don't disclose your current salary. It's none of their business. Your current salary is for your current role; this is a different role.

If asked, be upfront and tell them what you are looking to be paid in the new role, not what you are currently paid.

PegasusReturns Thu 30-Jul-20 22:48:30

Also remember the more senior the role the harder they are to fill - companies will pay what it takes.

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