Can an Interviewer Ask You About Your Salary History?

Woman figure and Man figure sitting on coinsDuring the interview process for your current job, were you asked about your salary history? Do you know if your wage and benefits are based on what you made in your former job?

The wage gap between male and female employees will continue so long as interviewers can ask about your past salaries and benefits. The reason for this is that most job offers are made based on what you were earning. This often means that a man is likely to receive a higher offer than a woman for the same job.

The wage inequality problem doesn't stop with your most recent job. If all your pay raises, promotions and new jobs are based on the same criteria, another employee with the same job who started years ago at a higher pay rate will continually make more money.

What Can Be Done About Gender Wage Gaps?

Whether an employer intentionally pays male employees more or not, the outcome is the same: A gender wage gap.

To stop the self-perpetuating wage inequities, some states and cities are forbidding employers from asking how much job candidates made at their previous positions. Unfortunately, Texas is not one of those states. While Texas employers can ask, you don't have to answer.

How to Avoid Answering the Salary Question

If you have an interview coming up, the best thing you can do is be prepared for salary questions. Think of what your response will be ahead of time. There are ways to respond such as saying:

  • What does the position pay? or What is the pay range for the position?
  • My target salary range is [fill in the blank]. or I'm focusing on jobs in the [fill in the blank] range.
  • I prefer to receive an offer based on my qualifications, not my pay history.
  • I want to know more about the job expectations to see if it aligns with my past (or current) job.
  • I understand that this type of position pays [fill in the blank].

If you are completing an online application, some recommend entering information about your target range and including a note about how you've answered in an "other information" section of the application.

Pay Inequity Based on Gender Is Illegal

If you find out that your male colleagues are making more money than you for the same job, you may be a victim of gender discrimination. If you started at a lower pay level, haven't received the same pay raises or have been overlooked for promotions, you do not have to just accept it. Learn about your legal options, and take control of your financial future.