One of the most awkward questions you can be asked in a job interview is “What are your salary requirements?” or “How much are you making in your current job?”
But if you’re interviewing for a job in Massachusetts, lucky you — you won’t have to answer that question anymore.
On Monday, August 1, Massachusetts passed an equal-pay law that prohibits employers from asking about salary histories until they make a job offer that includes compensation, unless the applicants voluntarily provide the information, ThinkProgress reported.
Massachusetts is the first state in the United States to ban employers from inquiring about salary histories.
As ThinkProgress noted, asking candidates for their salary histories may reinforce the gender wage gap. Women generally earn less than men, and when they disclose their salary, the prospective employer may base their new salary on their previous one.
The passage of the law is heartening news for those interviewing in Massachusetts — as for the rest of us, there are ways to dodge the salary question artfully.
If you’re in a job interview and a hiring manager asks you how much you make or how much you’re looking for, Sethi says, answer something like, “You know what, I’m happy to discuss money down the road, but right now I’m just trying to see if there’s a good fit for both of us. I’m sure you’re trying to do the same thing.”
Sethi says that this communicates confidence to the interviewer and can suggest that you have multiple offers on the table.
His advice is to hold off on salary negotiations until the hiring manager comes at you with a job offer, but, people being people, you may run into an interviewer who will keep pushing until they get an answer.
In an interview with Business Insider in May, HR consultant Lynn Taylor also recommended the dodge tactic, but said that if you get an insistent interviewer, answer truthfully but with an explanation.
That is, answer the range question based on what people already in that position make at the company — which you should know from your research — and answer the current-salary question by fleshing out your other benefits and the possibility of recently increased duties that have yet to be reflected in a raise.
Whatever the case, never answer directly.
Otherwise, you’ve already lost the edge in a negotiation before it even began.
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