re: Ethics of job-interview testing

Subject: re: Ethics of job-interview testing
From: eric -dot- dunn -at- ca -dot- transport -dot- bombardier -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 2 Jun 2004 12:25:19 -0400

I've participated in a discussion off-list and been asked a couple of
times about how to answer the 'salary question'. I figure I may as well
respond to the list. I guess there are already a number of posts from me
in the archives that cover my thoughts on the issue. One more shouldn't

Really, I just avoid doing it at all costs (much like I avoid answering
the touchy-feely HR personality typing questions). If applying in writing
I do not include it. When asked in person, I state that TOTAL remuneration
has to be considered. If they get nasty and insistent, I'd give a range
that encompasses 10's of thousands but be clear that vacation, benefits,
freebies, work environment, responsibilities, and expectations all count
towards figuring out whether I find the offer acceptable.

The discussion can often be shut down by asking about HR policies
regarding raises, bonuses, and salary levels and adjustments. I now go so
far as saying if salary adjustments to 'equalise' pay across a salary
level are part of the annual review, then I insist that I be given
assurances that the offer is 'above average' for the company. Regardless,
if we are to begin talking about salary, I insist on leaving with a full
understanding of salary review and adjustment procedures and the
expectations I should have.

Another tactic, is as soon as 'salary requirements' is raised, say "So
you're offering me the position? Great, what is included with the pay
packet and we can start negotiating."

Try and play it like a used car salesman (although it's you you're trying
to sell). If they want to talk prices, they better be prepared to sign a
contract before you leave.

I once went so far and said "I'm not certain that it's appropriate to
discuss at this stage. Why do you need to know?", which was followed by
them say they didn't want to waste time if they couldn't meet my
requirements. I then responded "Well, you're the one with the budget.
What's the maximum you're prepared to pay and what qualifications do I
need to get the maximum?". They paused, then simply commented I had a
point and uncomfortably continued the interview based on experience and
qualifications. And it didn't turn them off, I was asked back for the next
round. In another case, they responded with "Well we feel the local market
is between X$ and Y$." which gave me a great piece of information on
current local rates.

It was noted that these approaches don't apply to ads that require salary
expectations be included with the résumé. I always figured that "In line
with corporate policy and current market prices and reflecting duties,
responsibilities, and additional benefits package" is a perfectly
reasonable expectation. ;)

A like minded correspondent takes delight in responding to ads with salary
and benefits described as "competitive" or "commensurate with
qualifications," but also
say, "submit résumé with salary expectations," with expectations listed as
"competitive," or "commensurate with the value and
requirements of the position."

Eric L. Dunn
Senior Technical Writer


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