The common question that is being banned in job interviews

30 August 2018 -

Job interviewA London recruitment agency is telling us never to answer this question about salary again

Emily Hill

Recent research published by the CMI has proved troubling reading if you are a manager currently at work in the UK, and particularly so, if you happen to be a woman. This summer, analysis of 128,582 professionals found that inflation had surpassed real wage increases for the first time in five years while, new data on CEO salaries in the FTSE 100 reveals women earn £3m less than men.

Read more: The Managers and Professionals Salary Survey

How to tackle pay disparity is now an urgent question for all managers. One place to start, according to the London-based recruitment agency, Major Players, is for female candidates to stop sharing their salary history at job interviews.

In America, several states and cities have already banned any enquiry into this matter, as have many companies, including Amazon, Google and Starbucks. “The companies feel divulging current or previous salaries can be a big contributing factor for women not reaching pay parity with their male counterparts,” explains Joanne Lucy-Ruming, managing director of Major Players.

“Potential employees should be assessed on their experience and skills, not what they’ve been paid previously. As the leading creative recruiter, we feel we have an opportunity to make a positive impact and help close the gap through this initiative,” she says.


Lucy-Ruming points to the case of a talented young manager at work in the marketing sector that had made waves in her industry for nearly three years. Unfortunately, she had – like many women – started her career on an especially low, entry-level salary. When a new potential employer called to request a second interview and presentation, they asked Major Players for the candidate’s current salary.

“Our consultant refused to divulge it, explaining she wanted to prevent them from seeing her abilities with unconscious bias,” Lucy-Ruming adds. “The client came back with a salary offer that was £12k more than the candidate was currently earning after being blown away by her presentation. Both were delighted with the outcome.”

Read more: One manager explains why the executive pay slump matters

But it’s not just female candidates for jobs in the management industry who should be mindful of how disclosing their salaries may adversely affect them in the workplace. Adrian O’Connor, founding director of the Global Accounting Network, says it’s vital for managers high up in a company – both male and female – to tackle the gender pay gap from within.

“We no longer talk to clients about ‘current salary’, focusing instead on expected package, but all clients tend to ask,” he explains. “Proper systems for appraisals, goal setting and career mapping, where all staff are measured equally, and development is monitored, will also have a positive impact. Regular external benchmarking exercises to measure pay against the market will also help.”

Read more: The CMI has unveiled executive pay research showing that executive pay has fallen in real terms. There is also a gender pay gap in the FTSE 100.

Image: Shutterstock

Powered by Professional Manager