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Quite recently I had an online interview with a company. There was one person from the team I would be joining and one person from HR. I'm used to having separate conversations with HR and the team but in this case it was combined. At the end of the interview HR asked me about my salary expectations. This was a bit uncomfortable for me to answer with my potential future colleague still in the call.

While I personally don't mind sharing my salary with coworkers, I found it a bit odd to be asked this question in their presence.

It's possible that people at this company know about their colleagues' salaries but nothing of that sort was communicated to me thus far.


In future interviews, is there a professional way to:

  1. Communicate that you're not sure you want to answer that question with your potential future coworker present?
  2. Talk to HR about this situation in case I get hired and I get to interview candidates myself?
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    Was the colleagues just a colleague, or could it have been a manager or team lead? Jun 7 at 11:20
  • @KarstenKoop In my case it was "just a colleague" from my future team but it could've been the manager as well. Jun 7 at 11:23
  • Can you please clarify if the question was for you current salary (which in many places is indeed private information) or actually your expectations (which commonly should be based on public information like "based on my research I expect this position to pay 123456 coins a year which is why I'm applying here")? The accepted answer seem to be about former while question contains "expectations" making it confusing. Jun 8 at 21:03
  • From my experience it's very unlikely that a team member and a HR person are making hiring decisions. The manager is always involved. So either you've mistaken your future manager as peer, or this one was his deputy which is becoming a manager in near future. So could you check the invitation if this was just a misunderstanding?
    – Chris
    Jun 15 at 17:29
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If this really was a peer and not a manager, than the HR person did make a blatant mistake. In most cases that would not be acceptable and you are unlikely to run into the situation again. However, it's possible that the other person was more than just a peer.

Communicate that you're not sure you want to answer that question with your potential future coworker present?

Sorry, I'm not sure how you manage confidential salary information at your company. Should we discuss this privately ?

If the HR person confirms that it's ok for the peer to know, than you can proceed.

Talk to HR about this situation in case I get hired and I get to interview candidates myself?

Just ask about the policy for sharing candidate compensation information and follow the policy. Everywhere I worked and interviewed this topic was clearly restricted to HR and the direct chain of command (manager, director, VP etc.).

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The company might have a table matching skills and years of experience to salary brackets, in this case the coworker needs to evaluate your skills, and the HR needs to know what salary you expect. Then after that they can see how do your wishes compare to what the company would offer you based on your skills.

This could also be done without the coworker knowing that information, but I presume its a single person that participates in every interview, so probably someone who is also partly in management, and probably has some insights about salaries. Someone like that can give HR feedback is your request realistic, and if out of order, is it still a win for them if they go "out of their way" if you bring a certain set of skills that are highly valuable even with not so much years of experience.

Without them, HR could only tell are your wishes within boundaries or not, but only that coworker can give feedback is it worth to go out of bounds or not.

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  • While I agree that they need to be able to judge my skills, this is still an uncommon situation for companies here in Germany. They can judge my skill level and communicate that to HR without knowing about my salary expectations. Jun 7 at 11:28
  • There are to many unknowns and assumptions. Just because someone will be your coworker doesn't mean he is on the same level as you. He might be a product owner of your team, so you work together, but he has to manage finances, meaning he needs to know what the budget is, what you expect and does one fit with the other. Without knowing the exact role of that coworker, you can't really know is it a common or uncommon situation. Also, expectation is not really the final deal. Meaning you can later be offered something else, and they can only assume your salary, but so can you assume theirs.
    – Chapz
    Jun 7 at 11:44

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