What is your Salary? How to manage this Interview situation

I read with interest a number of months ago about a Bill signed into law in New York prohibiting employers enquiring about the earning history of job applicants.

I wondered would such a law ever be passed in Ireland and if it would have the intended results?

The new laws will go into effect in October with the intention of closing pay gaps between genders and other groups where equality of pay is a proven issue.

Being asked about current salary or salary expectations is consistently raised by job seekers as being an uncomfortable and difficult query to respond too. There is a fear of over stating expectations and losing out on one side, and on the other the possibility of selling oneself short.

There are three useful tips however that can make this challenge a good deal easier:


  1. Know the market: The best source of information on remuneration trends are recruiters or other professionals in your industry. Take time before you start your job search or attend interviews to speak with someone who can guide you as to what is achievable on the market. Salary surveys can be of benefit also but generally are too broad for each experience bracket.


  1. Know your number: Much like when buying a house, look at your expenses and your current earnings and identify a number that allows you to do the things you desire in the future. If you can take the time to sit down and do the maths on how much more per month you feel you will need in the coming two years then that is a good place to draw a response from.


  1. Current v Expected: These two headings are at the core of the issue. Just stating your current salary whilst the safest option, can also pigeonhole your expectations. Expected salary is where you can price yourself out of a role as discussed in the opening paragraph. To avoid both instances, regardless of which is sought by an employer you can provide both. If your basic is below market rate, state this and inform the employer that you feel you are underpaid. Similarly, if your expectations are higher than your current salary, be prepared to justify why you feel you should earn more.


Income disparity is unfortunately a continuing issue for employees in Ireland but it can be mitigated. The best approach is to be confident but reasonable. If you price yourself out of a role by stating a fair number, it probably wasn’t the role for you anyway. Similarly, if an employer uses your current salary as a stick to beat you with – is this somewhere you really want to work?

My last piece of advice is this. When an employer sits down to discuss salary, they are thinking about overhead and profit / loss. When an employee or potential employee sits down to discuss salary they are talking about something much more personal and directly impactful to them.

Try and remove the interpersonal aspect from the conversation and be direct and firm in your convictions. Clarity around your expectations is key and is where many people fall down in their negotiations with current or future employers.


What is your Salary? How to manage this Interview situation by Robert Connolly | Director Amicus Recruitment

Join us at Amicus Open Thursdays (14:00 – 16:30) – email robert@amicus.ie (subject “Open Thursdays”) for a no obligation appointment to get career advice, market options and salary information.