So here's the situation. I have a friend who is applying for a job as a Business Analyst. He has been working as a Business Analyst for another company for a year, but wants to move. However, his salary at the previous employer is much lower than average for a BA. Therefore, in order to prevent HR from having this information and using it to offer a dramatically lower salary during the negotiation process, I want to tell him not to divulge his current/previous salary if asked.

However, I don't know if it's appropriate to not share the information, or if it's even appropriate for the prospective employer to ask about it. I defer to your wisdom, workplace.SE.

  • 3
    Read this article.
    – enderland
    Commented Apr 11, 2013 at 1:37
  • 4
    I highly recommend reading the article enderland referred to, even though it is very long. Don't give a number. In the past, my usual job hunt/interview/get-hired process, included giving my current salary, then they'd add 5/10/15% on top of that and everyone was happy. Until you find out what others are making then you become disgruntled and do it all over again. My last interview, I wouldn't give a number, I simply said something like "I want to be paid as a highly valuable member of your staff for the position I'm being hired for." I got a 40% raise, plus my usual extra weeks vacation.
    – Dunk
    Commented Apr 11, 2013 at 21:18
  • There are 2 points to consider: it's important to discuss a range for your requirements early on, in order to not waste anyone's time. It is also important to describe what you want in term of lifestyle if you will relocate because salary may not translate that. For example I used to live in a bay, so close to the sea I could have thrown something into it from my terrace: depending where you live that can be quite cheap or super expensive and you may not know what your lifestyle costs when you relocate for a job, but they will know what makes sense.
    – Thomas
    Commented Apr 14, 2021 at 21:51

5 Answers 5


As the candidate, you always get to choose what you do and do not say, and how important it is to provide (or not provide) an answer to a question. The candidate can try to sidestep the question and answer the similar question of, "what is your expectation of salary for this role?", and thus the candidate can discuss their research about salaries for business analysts in the area with this experience, and hope that HR accepts this response.

As HR, they always get to choose what questions they ask, and how important it is to have an answer to that question. If there is a piece of information that HR really wants but the candidate refuses to provide it, then HR is in the position of deciding whether they want to make an offer without this information, or if they simply want to move on to another candidate who is willing to share that information.

Personally, as a software engineer, I don't think that I've ever not been asked about salary when interviewing. The general interview process that I'm used to is a phone interview with a recruiter, a phone interview with the hiring manager or someone on the team, and then an in-person interview with the team. Of all of the in-person interviews that I have done, salary expectations are always discussed before the in-person interview. From the hiring manager's point of view, there is no point in interviewing a candidate whose salary expectations are above their budget. When I'm asked about salary, I talk about total compensation: base salary, bonuses, stock options or grants, and benefit package.

For entry-level positions such as those that require less than two years of experience, there are often many candidates who are just as qualified but who are more forthcoming with the information that HR wants. Your friend needs to decide whether their desire to get as high of a salary as possible is higher than their desire to get a salary that is higher than the too-low one that they currently make.

  • 2
    It's worth noting that when I was looking to leave an under-paid position, I was contacted by one or two recruiters (from headhunters) who refused to deal with me if I didn't provide them my current salary in addition to my target one. But there's always more recruiters out there, and that wasn't in discussions with the actual company.
    – Bobson
    Commented Sep 19, 2014 at 20:16

Yes, it's okay.

Will the interviewer be annoyed with you for withholding this information? Most likely.

I think the best solution (if possible) would be to share his previous salary information with the caveat that the main reason he is moving away from his other company was lack of compensation.

Failing to disclose salary information may very well disqualify him from several jobs he could otherwise get.


in order to prevent HR from having this information and using it to offer a dramatically lower salary during the negotiation process, I want to tell him not to divulge his current/previous salary if asked.

Yes, he should try to hide it. Usually, they tell not to ask for a higher salary, which would be 10-15% more then the current.

If he would not to tell them, he can tell that his current job contract forbids him to tell salary to anyone.


Responding honestly to that question will probably serve a candidate better than other ways of answering it. Avoiding the question will raise red flags. Do you really want your prospective employer (and not just HR, but your hiring manager/the interviewer) having an informal chat with your current or previous employer's HR staff, or supervisor? It likely won't be just about your salary, but on your secretive mannerisms... That is, if you've utterly aced the rest of your interview, such that your new employer even cares to follow up after that harbinger of future difficulties.
I recommend forthright honesty, especially on something that can be back-checked so easily. And instead of airing dissatisfaction over your current/previous compensation, the time might be better spent inquiring about your potential new group's salary range; what others with your qualifications and experience are currently making.

  • That would sound like retaliation in a lot of courts a professional hr person would never do that
    – Pepone
    Commented Nov 28, 2014 at 20:12
  • The candidate would likely be unaware of that conversation happening. Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 3:08

It's ok to not divulge it, but as others have said, if asked directly, refusing to answer can count against you. Therefore, have an answer prepared about the value you will bring to their position, and why it is worth the money you are requesting. Be willing to say something about how what he was earning at a different job has little or no bearing to the value he brings to this job. Point out that he's looking to earn more because the going rate is such and so, and why he is worth that or more. Give a ROI that justifies what he is asking.

  • 2
    Why the downvotes? What you earn at one job should not affect what you are worth at the next. What you bring to the new job should determine your worth. Commented Apr 26, 2013 at 21:34

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