Interview and the compensation question. Is it appropriate, and when is it appropriate, for the job seeker to ask about compensation during and interview?

.. No.. I don't have the answer and am not here to entertain on this post. I'm serious. I'm perplexed by the question of appropriate timing and approach to address compensation when the employer is not offering that information.

I know how I behave when I interview as a job seeker. But, I don't want to taint your answer with my opinion.

So, in your opinion, is it appropriate for a job seeker to ask about compensation during an interview? Please include your reasoning. And, please address the timing and approach you would coach a job seeker to use if you feel it is appropriate to go down that road.

I thank you, in advance, for your answer. I hope it helps others with this question.

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Not only do I think it appropriate, but I'd wonder about the potential candidate who did not ask.

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I'm very much with Scott Love on this one. I think it's of more benefit to both the client and the candidate if the negotiation is mediated by the recruiter. This way no one is offended and the chances of the initial offer being accepted are dramatically increased. Encourage the client to put their best offer forward, making them aware of a candidates current package so they can be competitive and get a bottom dollar amount from the candidate. Talk the bottom dollar amount with the candidate so they have realistic/lower expectations, but try and get more, again, increasing the chances of the offer being accepted. My two cents.
I appreciate the feedback so far. To clarify, I'm really trying to gather opinions regarding what the Candidate should do while in the interview and why and how.. and so forth. How would you coach your candidate if they asked you for advice as you prep them for an interview?
I won't work a search unless I know what the range of the position is. If you do otherwise, you risk wasting your time, the candidates time and the employers if the person you send isn't within what they can pay.

If you're sending a candidate in, I don't think the candidate should ever raise the compensation question, because you should already have this information. Plus, this is what you want to negotiate for him/her. Sometimes the candidate is asked though, and I think it's good to state a range rather than a set number and to add, 'of course this all depends on the total compensation package and overall fit of the opportunity.'
this is kind of like this post by Michael Glenn.

I have some definite strong opinions on this but I need to take care of something first and then will respond but I think not having this info is something that will come back to bite you if you don't ask. The fact that a candidate says I am not telling you is a big tell and sets the stage for what will be. For sure more on this later.
Prep for the interview is vital, and the subject of compensation always comes up during this phase. The simple answer is NO. Candidates are not to discuss compensation as I see no positive effect of them talking about it. Most candidates not born negotiators, thus leaving money on the table. However, when asked directly by an employer on the matter - some candidates quiver and feel like they need to talk. I offer them this line to simply address the issue without giving anything away.

Client: Tell me about your compensation expectations.

Candidate: I appreciate you asking, and I actually discussed this with Jason as well. He explained to me that the role has a range of 70-80k base salary with bonus potential. That is the range I am looking for. However, most important to me is locating the right company with a culture and fit that I can grow with and offer value. If it turns out that is here and that you guys like me, the compensation range discussed sounds good.

It is simple, somewhat of a mouthful....however covers the question without avoidance and better yet disarms and lets the employer know they are not wasting their time with someone they cannot afford.
I agree with Jason.

Further to that, I coach my candidates as Scott Love suggests (because I agree): Have them give the client a range of about $5000 around what they're currently making (ie Candidate is making $93K "I'm currently in the 90-95 range"). That should be enough info for them, although chances are more-than-likely that I've already provided them with that same range.

I don't really see what the alternative would be. Have them go in to the interview with a projected salary? Tell them to add a buffer to it and prepare to negotiate that buffer away? I don't think that's fair to either my client or candidate, that's why I feel that the TRP should be involved in all negotiations pertinent to the whole compensation package (including benefits and so on). Everybody wins (or at least no one loses as badly as they could have).
I had a very unusual situation happen to me last year that I thought I would pass on. I interviewed for a recruiter position at a local medical facility. Was offered the position at 48K, since I had the offer and I knew they wanted me, I thought I was in the position to negotiate, so I counter-offered at 50K (I was making 51K). The next time I called them (a few days later) they were "crunching" the numbers for me. I thanked the HR director and told her I would be leaving for a vacation for a week, I was very interested in the position and could start on March 17th. I NEVER heard anything back from them. No letter, no phone call..nothing. I called numerous times after I got back to no avail. A few months later I ran into an acquaintance of mine that works at the medical facility, told them of my experience and they laughed. Apparently you are not suppose to counter-offer and that killed the offer.
I always let my candidates know that the salary range for the position they are going on the interview for is in their acceptance range. I also tell them that if compensation comes up (don't ever bring it up yourself) in the interveiw to tell the client that my recruiter said he will handle it if you're interested in hiring me. Lets see if I'm good for you and you're company is good for me first. If they persist on talking compensation tell them what you were making in your last or current position. Let them know that money is important but it's not the only thing that will make a difference in determining where you go to work.
I also tell my candidates that if they can get the client to want them I will get the most money for them, concentrate on getting them to wnat you on their team and I'll make it work for both of you.
I also tell my clients in some cases that the candidate that their going to interview are looking for more then you want to pay but if they can entice them with --then I tell them my candidates hot buttons, it could be a variety of things, opportunity for challenges,better benefits,flex time, work closer to home or in some cases from home,explain to them their career path from this position etc... they will be flexible with money if you have something else they wnat and don't currently have.
There are 2 distinctly different situations here. With and without recruiter involvement.

Either way though - no candidate should show up for an interview w/o knowing the salary range. Either they are "open" to the range before agreeing to the interview or not. All other criteria aside - this should be discussed up front. Either the internal HR person qualifying the non-recruitered candidate or the recruiter himself.

If someone is considering an interview without a recruiter - I would suggest to them this question to HR (during the phone call from HR to schedule an interview) "This position sounds like a great fit. Can you share with me the salary range so we can make sure there is a fit there as well?"

If you are working with a recruiter then DO NOT ask (axe) about salary at all - what so ever - ever/never during your interview. If it comes up - here is your answer "The recruiter (use their name) and I discussed the salary range for this position and I would love to consider your strongest offer." or if you don't like that one try this "I am very interested in an offer from - but you are in a much better position to assess my worth to your group than I am."
Any corporate recruiters care to weigh in on this topic? What is the view and opinion from your shoes? Is your view different when a third-party recruiter is involved and when not? What would you tell a friend who needed your advice for their own job interview?

Thanks so far everyone..
I am a recruiter in corporate HR. For candidates that I source, I initiate the salary discussion during the first phone call. If the salary isn't a fit on either side, there is no point in wasting the candidate's time or mine. If the candidate comes from an agency, the salary discussion between me and the agency rep happens before I present the candidate to the manager, for the same reason given above.

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