Adapting to future needs.

3 ways to ask a job applicant about their salary history

On September 29, 2019, Illinois passed a new law that prohibits employers from asking job applicants about their salary history. The law also allows employees to discuss their salary and benefits with their colleagues, which is a practice that employers often disapprove of. These measures are intended to help close the gender pay gap and eliminate pay inequality. The new law applies to both salaried and salaried workers. Illinois is not actually the only state to have this law. There are currently 14 states that have banned the wage issue and that number is growing.

So how should employers handle the new law? Knowing someone’s salary history is a crucial part of determining what that candidate’s salary should be at your company. There are some steps employers can take to avoid not being able to ask about salary. These steps revolve around expectations and research.

Ask about expectations

If employers have not already done so, they should start asking candidates about their salary expectations in the first interview. Asking about salary expectations lets the employer know if the candidate’s desired salary is within the salary range of the job. Right off the bat, this will make them either fit or not fit the position. If the candidate’s desired salary is within the range, then you know that there will be no salary problem in the future if you make an offer to him. If the employer really likes the candidate, then they can give the candidate an offer that fits higher on the spectrum to help ensure that they accept the offer.

Employers can even include this question in their job application, before the first interview. If candidates select a salary much higher than the salary for the job, that can automatically remove them from the candidate pool.

Set expectations

In addition to asking about expectations, you should also set your OWN salary expectations. In the first interview, tell the candidate what the salary range of the job is so they know in advance. This would be a good question after asking about their expectations so they don’t set their expectations around yours. If your salary expectations don’t meet the job range, ask if it’s okay. If there’s any form of hesitation, it’s probably not okay, even if they say it’s okay. Be careful with any doubts.

Do your salary research

Before your first interview with a candidate, a good rule of thumb is to do your research on the industry and the position they are currently working in. This allows you to gauge what your current salary might be. Helpful resources for research include the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Glassdoor, and job descriptions in the same field / position. Getting an idea of ​​what your current salary range might be allows you to prepare for what your salary expectations might be. If your expectations are well above the salary you found in your research, you know that your desired salary exceeds the industry average.

You’ll also want to make sure you continue to do your research on the industry. you work and the positions for which you are seeking candidates. To stay competitive, you must offer competitive salaries and ensure that you meet or exceed salary expectations for the industry and the position.


No longer being able to ask candidates about their salary can cause a little road block for employers, but here are 3 ways to get around that hurdle. Asking about expectations, setting expectations, and doing your salary research will be key to the future of hiring.

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