Tell The Truth in Interview, Follow-Up


Q.  I’ve been out of college and working for the past two years.  I was surprised when my prospective new boss asked me how much money I was currently making.  I didn’t expect such a direct question.  Since I need to make more money and am due for a salary adjustment and perhaps a promotion, I stretched the truth by 20 percent.  I haven’t heard if I got the job and am having second thoughts if I did the right thing.  Isn’t this common in job change situations?   -CB

A.  You took a significant risk that has a 50 percent chance of coming back to haunt you.  Some organizations check salary history with former employers, although a growing number no longer do so.  So, your gambling by stretching the truth. 

Here are the common questions prospective employers ask current/former employers prior to making a job offers: 

  • job title, and sometimes, job responsibilities,
  • final salary,
  • dates of employment, and
  • would you hire this person back (a confirmation of employer satisfaction with the employee)

There are other ways for you to make your case for a significant salary bump without being untruthful beginning with the probability that the new job has more responsibilities than the current one.  So, mention the difference in scope of work, while citing the pending salary increase and what increase range your employer normally offers (generally 4 to 6 percent unless a promotion, which amounts to more). 

Reminder:  Unless asked, don’t mention salary expectations in the initial interview.  (I’ve actually seen salary expectations mentioned in unsolicited cover letters with resumes–a definite faux pas.)  When asked about current salary, tell the truth and make your case for additional salary consideration.

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