Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

 

It's a question you should always be prepared for.

It's one that's asked by many job interviewers.

"How much are you currently making?"

If your latest (or even longtime) lover had asked you the question, you'd think it a touch nosy. If your parents, your friends, or Kurshina your local Starbucks barista had asked it, you'd smile and mutter: "Seriously?"

Why, then, does it make a fine question for an interviewer to ask? Because interviewers, like drunks who debate politics on a Friday night at Smitty's Bar, always think they should have the upper hand?

I'm sure there are some very clever recruitment consultants--here's one--who'll tell you that you should be honest. Your interviewer might already have a good idea of what's being paid in the industry. And if you don't answer the question, aren't you showing that you're difficult?

No, you're showing that you're private and you know an irrelevant, manipulative question when you see one.

You also might be showing that you think your interviewer is being a nosy goat and wants to immediately have a benchmark for any potential financial offer.

It seems to me that a reasonable answer might be "I'll tell you what I'm making, if you tell me what you're making."

Another might be "Gosh, I don't tell anyone that. Do you?"

You could also try "Do you tell people when they ask you in job interviews?"

Of course, you should say all these things in a sweet, playful manner. But they're also (slightly) nicer ways of saying, "Mind your own bloody business."

You could, of course, subtly suggest that you feel you're being underpaid. You could even offer a bluff to say that you're happy with what you're being paid, so that the interviewer believes your job search isn't about money.

In the end, the interviewer should be looking to hire you, not your current salary. (Of course, if your interviewer is a CFO that sentence is entirely reversed.)

It's always a risk when you offer someone a job with financial terms that they might find disappointing, or even insulting.

But it surely presents a clearer picture to the interviewee of how much they might be valued. It also presents a more honest view of the company they might be working for.

When you go out on a first date, are your first questions about your date's former lovers, about how well they treated them, about how often they went out to fancy dinners and expensive vacations?

Oh, you're still single?

Would it be an idea for job interviewers to never ask how much someone is currently earning? Wouldn't it suggest that money shouldn't be a topic for either side until both sides decide they'd really like to work with each other?

I know my thinking is idealistically quaint. But one can dream, can't one?

And every new job is supposed to be a dream job, isn't it?

Published on: Jul 17, 2015
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.