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Amazon Bans Your Least-Favorite Interview Question

Amazon recently announced a ban on any and all questions related to salary history during their interview process.
Amazon HQ2
Robert Scoble/Flickr

One of the most challenging aspects of interviewing for a new job is salary negotiation. It’s important to negotiate salary, because doing so helps to increase your earnings immediately and over time. But, that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Negotiations can become particularly uncomfortable when a hiring manager asks about salary history. But, from here on out, potential new hires at Amazon won’t have that worry.

The Salary History Question Hurts Workers

It might seem that discussing salary history during a negotiation is a simple way to work toward an acceptable offer. But, at the end of the day, using this method to determine salary hurts everyone involved. It isn’t good for workers or the company.

Pay should be based upon what other workers with similar experience, skills and job descriptions are earning. Pay also varies by geographic region, and also sometimes from company to company. (Take Payscale’s Salary Survey to learn more about what you ought to be earning.)

Salaries should not be based upon prior earnings. Too often what this means for workers is that companies pay as little as they can get away with paying. This damages workers’ bottom line and can even contribute to the gender pay gap, as women who were underpaid at their last job may find themselves unable to negotiate a fair salary going forward. Eventually, it also damages the integrity and reputation of the organization from an employee perspective.

Amazon’s New Policy

Amazon recently announced a new company-wide policy. They’ll be following in the footsteps of other tech giants, such as Facebook and Google, which have implemented similar changes.

The policy applies to all levels of job candidates. It applies to engineers and call center workers alike. It stands for all candidates interviewing for a position with Amazon anywhere in the United States. The company currently employs over 500,000 workers.

The news came via a statement that was released by Amazon and shared by BuzzFeed. The statement outlines the policy in detail. Here are a few takeaways from this release:

  • Candidates cannot be asked, directly or indirectly, about their salary history.
  • Not only are hiring managers forbidden from asking about salary history, but they also aren’t permitted to use salary history information if a candidate volunteers it.
  • Salary history should not be sought, documented or utilized when it is obtained through a recruiting system like LinkedIn or via any third party.
  • It is all right to discuss a candidate’s salary expectations, as long as the conversation is completely unrelated to current or previous compensation rates.
  • Hiring managers may discuss Amazon’s compensation philosophy.

Hopefully, other companies will soon adopt similar policies.

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