Should candidates be asked about their salary history as part of the screening and hiring process?
A recent article posted in Human Resources Director Canada cites an American push, in certain states, to ban asking candidates questions about their recent salaries as part of the recruitment process.
It seems a curious thing to be asking about, in the first place.
From a best practice perspective, asking candidates about their salary history comes loaded with difficulties, especially in a Canadian HR context. As we have learned from our Recruitment and Selection studies, our focus as Human Resources practitioners is to ensure that the end-to-end hiring process is as neutral and objective as possible.
While the article speaks to the benefits of assessing a candidate’s monetary expectations, asking the question about how much money the candidate makes now is, in the opinion of this HR blogger, completely irrelevant.
Candidates are better served by having a clear and transparent understanding of the position requirements, the duties, the responsibilities, the expectations and the compensation range that will apply to the successful applicant in the position. It is the value of the position that pays the wage, not the value that is placed on the person applying for the job. This is why we have compensation related legislation in place including the Pay Equity Act of Ontario, the Employment Standards Act and, of course, the fundamental principles of equality and fairness outlined in the Ontario Human Rights Code.
If a candidate chooses to apply for a position that is at a lower compensation level than their current situation, that is their choice. The employer is not obligated to over-compensate the applicant, if they are hired, for making that choice. Similarly, if a candidate applies for a position at a higher rate than their current wages, the ethical employer will not (should not) pay lower than the pre-determined compensation level if that person is hired into that position as a result.
When there is a salary range linked to a position, that range should be the only determinant that sets the wage in order to ensure a fair and equitable assessment of mutual values.
Bottom line, some questions are just not worth the asking.
- As a candidate, how would you respond to a question that probes your salary history during the interview process?
- What are the benefits to the HR practitioner in asking about candidate salary history?
- What are the perils to the HR practitioner in asking about candidate salary history?