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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Addy

Interviewers…. Never ask this question again!

Updated: Jul 23, 2018

Tell me about yourself? What do you consider as being your qualities and drawbacks? Where do you see yourself in 10 years? After decades and decades of asking those questions that shape a job interview, recruitment in the state of New York is taking a major turn. Indeed, New York City declared that from now on, it will be forbidden for employers to directly ask applicants how much they made in their last job. They also won’t be able to query public records for it. Companies seeking talent will still be able to ask the salary range desired by the candidate. Moreover, the 3.8 million workers who will be affected will still be able to tell their salary history but on their own will.

Why banning salary questions?

Asking what was and is the salary of a candidate usually enabled employers to set up wages, as well as evaluating the value of a candidate and orienting negotiation. Thus, this measure comes to reduce discrimination and help candidates get a salary corresponding to the role they are applying for. The author of the law, Letitia James, explained that “being underpaid once does not condemn anyone to a lifetime of inequity”.

Then, this law is also supposed to reduce pay inequity between genders. Indeed, according to USA Today, it has been highlighted that in the US, women who work full time only make 80% of what men make, which reveals a big gap that this law is attempting to tackle the issue. Yet the Equal Pay act, written in 1963, states that it’s illegal to use gender as a salary discrimination factor, inequity remains. Effectively, this law still “allows” differences in pay by gender if they are based on different factors that can be seniority, merit, quality or quantity of employees’ work. For Mayor Bill De Blasio, “this is about fixing a broken history. This is about overcoming years and years of discrimination that held people back”.

What does it change?

Banning the salary history enquiry will impact how the interview has always been processed. De Blasio underlines that “This will require employers to change their job applications, employ new practices in terms of hiring and retool how they engage in the salary discussions with prospective employees, focusing on salary expectations rather than current salary”.

Some companies are already making changes and have banned the so-called question such as Kickstarters, Peeled Snacks or BBMG. Of course, it is a major policy to implement on small companies, which don’t have any formal process for applications. Then, not respecting this law will be charged, after its activation October 31, 2017, will be risking a maximum $250,000 fine, which can be very dangerous for small structures.

What to expect next?

We all know that New York is considered as a trendsetter, meaning that we should expect other U.S. states taking the path towards tackling pay inequity. 20 other cities and states legislatives such as Massachusetts or Philadelphia have already signed this new law. We can expect Washington D.C. to take the next step towards pay equity in the next year, as a snowball effect… Will Europe follow suit?

My View

Having spent 15 years in the recruitment business and been trained to put this very question at the forefront of a selection process, I say it’s about time!

As an employer myself I believe that I should be the judge of what value a prospective employee represents to our business. By that, I also mean that I value my view more than the previous employers – therefore making the question “What is your current salary?” far less important to me than, “What ROI can you bring to our business?”

I’ve been preaching this for over 10 years… What do you think?

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