Can you ask candidates their current salary? UK guidelines

Can you ask candidates their current salary? UK guidelines by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

3 Reasons why you should not ask your candidates about their current salary

Have you ever been asked about your current salary in an interview? It’s a jarring question for candidates that can feel very personal.

Questions about salary have plagued recruitment for years. But with many states in America making it illegal to ask about salary in interviews, it seems like this tradition is on the way out.

If you’re tempted to ask your candidates about their current salary, be warned. You could sabotage your own efforts at workplace equality along the way.

Why you shouldn’t ask your candidates about their current salary

1 – They’re probably lying

Because it feels like such an attack, your candidates may be tempted to lie about their current salary. In fact, a quarter of Europeans lie when asked about their current salary, embellishing by 10% or more.

Odds are you’re one of those people that have been tempted to lie about their salary in interviews and on job applications. I certainly am!

So when 25% of your candidates will lie anyway, what’s the point in asking questions about salary history?

Lots of employers ask these questions when they’re thinking about what they should pay candidates. They use past salary to inform future, expecting to only need to increase their current pay by a small percentage to get them on board.

Questions about past salary put your candidates on the back foot when it comes to negotiations, which is very unfair. Negotiating is hard enough anyway!

2 – It’s bad for workplace equality

Thinking about basing the salary you’ll pay on what your candidates have been paid in the past?

When you do this, you inherit all of the inequalities and prejudices of your candidate’s last workplace. Their work could have been undervalued there and they could have been underpaid as a result.

The last thing you want to do is inherit someone else’s pay gap.

Studies have found that when companies don’t ask about salary history, women and black employees in particular saw substantial increases to their pay in new roles.

3 – It’s about skill over experience

What you pay your employees has nothing to do with their previous jobs anyway. It’s about their skill and the value they can bring to your company and no one else’s!

If all of our salaries only slightly built on our previous, we’d be stuck earning a small amount for most of our careers.

When it comes to hiring for new roles, we’d always recommend thinking about your needs first. What can you pay your new hire? What should you pay your new hire?

The best way to ensure that you’re valuing skill over experience is to advertise your vacancy with a salary band. For an entry-level role this might look like £20,000 – £24,000.

Then once you’re ready to offer the job to someone, assess the value you think they will bring to the business. What skills do they have that you need?

Then make a generous offer not based on their past salary at all.

Are you going to ask about your candidate’s current salary at your next interview?

We recently signed a pledge from Fawcett East London’s end salary history campaign and encourage you to do so too!

If you need any help finding talented juniors or deciding on the right salary to pay a new hire, check out our hiring platform for more help.

About post author

Hi, I'm Daisy. I'm using my passion for writing to work with DigitalGrads on their content and social media campaigns.
Posted in Hiring Graduates