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When Should You Ask About Compensation During the Interview Process?


When looking for a new job, compensation is important. You want to make sure the compensation for your potential new job reflects your skills and experience. But more times than not, employers don’t make compensation information for open positions readily available. 

This leads to an inevitable question: when should you ask about compensation? Do you wait for the interviewer to bring it up? Or should you ask about it right away so you don’t waste time interviewing for a job that pays too little? 

LinkedIn recently asked recruiters and hiring managers when and how to bring up compensation during the interview process. While opinions on the subject varied, their answers can provide valuable insight. Here’s what some of them had to say.

Employers Should Take the Lead

Some of those that weighed in on the question said employers should be upfront about compensation when hiring. 

“Organizations should be transparent and post the salary range on the job posting,” David Weaver, author of Pay Matters: The Art and Science of Employee Compensation, said. “Asking a candidate for salary history or salary expectations only perpetuates the gender and diversity wage gap and creates pay discrimination issues.” 

Frank Sibbio, a recruiter for Sunrise Senior Living, agrees that the employer should mention compensation first. “Specifics are not necessary, but at the very least a pay range should be disclosed,” he said. 

Ask About Compensation in the First Interview

Many hiring managers and recruiters that responded to the question on LinkedIn said candidates should feel comfortable bringing up compensation in their first interview. 

“Candidates should be asking the salary question in the first conversation with an organization,” Fynd Staff co-founder Adam Seguin said. 

Others agreed with Seguin. 

“Candidates should absolutely ask this question in the first phone call,” Shawn Bhatti, a talent acquisition professional, said. 

Wait For the Employer to Bring Up Compensation

Though some encouraged candidates to ask about compensation during the interview process, others advised job seekers to wait until the employers bring it up. 

Janice McVey, a managing partner at Dean Group, said candidates should focus on what they can bring to the table first. “By selling yourself and your skillset, you’ll be more likely to sell the price tag that comes with it when the time comes,” she said. “Therefore, it’s important to focus on the job first, and the salary second.”

Others agreed with McVey, saying candidates don’t want to give the impression that it’s all about the money. 

“The candidate should never ever utter the words ‘what is the salary,’” Andy Harris-Cartwright, Talent Acquisition and Program Manager at MaRS Discovery District said. 

“When speaking directly with an employer, I would recommend that the job seeker wait until the interviewer mentions salary,” Sheryll Westcarr, learning & development business partner at Manpower, said. “If the candidate initiates the conversation, the interviewer could interpret this as the candidate’s being more interested in what they’ll get out of the transaction, rather than focusing on what value they can bring to the employer.”

Only Bring It Up With Recruiters

Many agreed that job seekers should talk compensation in the first interview, but only if the conversation is with a recruiter. 

“The answer can depend on whether the candidate is speaking with a recruitment consultant, or with a representative of the hiring organization,” Suzanne Noesgaard, a consultant for David Aplin Group, said. “In my role as a recruiter, I make sure to ask this question in my first conversation with each candidate. This ensures that there is a potential alignment with the budget for the role at hand, respecting the time of the candidate and of the hiring manager.”

The Earlier, the Better

It’s clear that there are many different opinions as to who should bring up compensation. But one thing most people agreed on was that salary should be discussed early in the process. 

“Compensation expectations should be brought up in the first discussion,” Stephanie Jarvis, talent acquisition manager at McKesson, said. “Everyone’s time is valuable and it’s better to know you are aligned.”

Victoria Olasumbo Elusakin, recruitment and engagement associate at 24-7 Intouch, agrees it’s in both parties’ best interest to talk compensation early.

“As a recruiter, I feel it is best to discuss salary expectations in the first stage of the recruiting process,” she said. “It is stressful and a waste of time to go through the entire recruitment process and lose the applicant due to salary expectations.”


Though there wasn’t a consensus, there are some things we can learn from the varied answers. 

  • Know your worth – Before you start interviewing, research the average salary for someone with your skills and experience. Go into the interview process with a clear idea of the compensation you require.
  • Sell Your Skills – The most important thing for you to do in an interview is to tell the interviewer why you’re the best person for the job.
  • Tactfully Bring Up Compensation – If the employer or recruiter fails to bring up compensation, it’s entirely appropriate for you to ask about it. But make sure you do it after you’ve told them why you’re the best person for the job.

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