To ask or not to ask…

This is not a personal dilemma but a professional one… this is regarding the awkard moment when the interviewer asks you in the closing stage of an interview… “Can you share your last / present salary details” or “What is your current salary and what is your expectations” or any other salary related question. Now, this question is fast moving towards a taboo zone as some other questions regarding the personal life, sexual orientation of the candidate did some years / decade back.

I have personally faced this in my professional life but from the Other side of table… I was (am still) a CHRO / Head HR for a long time in different sectors and I, pretty late in my career made this informed decision about NOT asking candidates about the Salary details (in addition to other taboo topics). This was based on a perception that it puts a bias in the head of recruiter and opens a never satisfying round of Negotiation for both parties involved… Candidates feels that he could have got more and recruiter feels that perhaps the candidate would have joined for less…

There are two scenarios…

1. If the candidate is drawing more than the Company’s own standard of pay for similar positions / similar levels, similar experience etc, then the Recruiter feels that it would upset the internal parity and would cause heart burns for existing employees and headache for Head HR.

2. If the candidate is drawing too less (because of difference of sector / industry), then the tendency to NOT offer 100 -200% hike over last drawn pay to bring the person at PAR would be too low.

In either case, it is an avoidable situation to be in. Best is to have your own pay structure which is based on ..

a. Internal Parity

b. External parity

c. Regular Market Survey on Compensation and Benefits in similar basket of companies.

Once a Company has a Compensation Policy and Structure, then an offer can be prepared based on the same. I have seen personally that this leads to better transparency and acceptance in more than 75% of cases and the same is appreciated and accepted by the candidate. In case a person / candidate is interested to change job for a salary hike only, then you as a company or recruiter run the danger of losing him in case some one offers him more salary in months / years to come. This scenario should be avoided at all “costs”…. (choice of word not intentional).

I know, this is still not in an established practice form and there are many companies, reputed and not reputed ones who follow the old practice of asking for salary details and “Proofs”. This is because of two reasons..

1. Company wants to base their back ground verification process on the Last Salary Drawn certificate / Salary slips. Therefore, they make it a mandatory provision. But there a other means of checking past antecedants of a new joinee.

2. In their heart of hearts, the fear of paying more to a potential candidate looms large, so they insist on seeing the salary slip to convince themselves that they are not over paying.

The company should have well documented and updated Job Description and Profile and that should include the experience required to do the job, qualification required to do the job and salary band for the same. The Salary band should be made with 3 different levels of experience and Qualification. Level 1 for below stipulated standards, Level 2 for meeting all criteria and Level 3 for candidates with more qualifications and / or experience than stipulated. Obviously, for deviations in Level 1 and Level 3, concerned HOD should be kept in loop and final offer should be be made accordingly. This chart / data, explaining the comp structure and Comp principle for all positions (with different experience band and qualification band) comes in very handy while deciding and designing offer letters / placement for new joinees.

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