It's the question you hope your interviewer never asks. If they do, you need to be ready with a tactful dodge. Because how you answer could drastically hurt your chances of getting the salary you deserve.

"What's your salary at your current job?" Oof. Your hopes of getting a huge pay bump just got destroyed. This is especially the case if you're underpaid, which is more likely to be the case for people of color and women. That's the whole reason you're looking for a new job, right?

But there's good news if you're interviewing for a job Amazon. The tech giant just issued a company-wide policy that bans all hiring managers from asking this very question. Amazon's no-salary-history policy applies to all levels of job candidates interviewing for any role in the United States, from engineers with years of specialized experience to those seeking employment at one of Amazon's fulfillment centers.

Amazon joins the ranks of tech giants such as Google, Facebook and Cisco, who say they've already implemented a similar change nationwide. In some states and cities, it's illegal to ask about a candidate's salary history. New York City implemented a ban last fall, and California's law went into effect at the beginning of 2018.

What Amazon interviews can't ask

According to Buzzfeed, Amazon has implemented a strict policy outlining what's off limits. Here's the exact language Buzzfeed shared, which is from a statement that Amazon released earlier this week. Hiring managers cannot:

  • Directly or indirectly ask candidates about their current or prior base pay, bonus, equity compensation, variable pay, or benefits.

  • Use salary history information as a factor in determining whether or not to offer employment and what compensation to offer a candidates.

  • Consider salary history information even if the candidate volunteers it.

  • Document a candidate's current or former salary in any amazon recruiting systems or third party databases such as LinkedIn Recruiter, etc.

  • Ask or rely on a third party recruiting agency to ask a candidate for his or her salary history.

Amazon's definition of a salary inquiry is broad. Beyond asking about salary, hiring managers are also not allowed to broach a candidate's existing or previous benefits package, employee perquisites or 401k plan. The policy applies to United States jobs only, but Amazon is forbidding sneaky loophole behavior. For example, if someone currently lives outside the U.S., but is interviewing for a job stateside, the hiring manager still can't broach the salary history subject.

So what can Amazon recruiters and hiring managers ask in regards to salary? That list is much shorter. They can ask what salary candidates expect to be paid. They can talk about the salary and compensation packages of competing job offers. And they can "discuss Amazon's compensation philosophy."

It appears the dreaded salary history question is definitively dead at Amazon. ​

Published on: Jan 18, 2018