Why talking about your current salary with recruiters and in interviews is a horrible idea

Oliver Jumpertz
6 min readFeb 28, 2022
Why talking about your current salary with recruiters and in interviews is a horrible idea

Interviews are never easy. We often feel like beggars hoping to get a well-paid job. Although this is actually not the reality, especially for tech workers, interviews stress our nerves, make us sweat, and we usually don’t feel well doing them. We are constantly graded and evaluated, classified, and then deemed worthy or not. Interviews are full of questions we have all already heard of. There are classics, clever questions, riddles, whiteboarding, and what else.

One of those classics that’s asked more and more, especially by recruiters, is the following one:

“What is your current salary?”

This is one of the most critical and morally questionable questions to ask a candidate, and here is how you deal with it.

Determining the value of work

Before we talk about the question and how to handle it, we need to talk about how the value of work is determined. With this knowledge, you will understand the catch of this question and why answering honestly puts you at a disadvantage. To completely cover a topic as deep as how to value work, it would definitely need a whole article or even a book on its own. We will thus go with a pretty simplified version that gives you at least a basic idea of how it works.

The value of work is individual.

It is partly based on:

  1. Supply
  2. Demand

in the global, but even more in the local markets.

Chances are high that no two employees doing the same job, even at the same company, are paid the same. Companies earn different amounts of money each month and year. They have different operating costs, and they have different leadership. All businesses, however, have in common that they try to minimize costs while maximizing profits, at least up to a certain extend.

When a company starts to hire, it creates a budget. This is basically what they are willing to pay a new employee for a certain job. This amount is based on experience, supply and demand in the local markets, and more factors. Beginning with a certain salary, there will be interest in a position. Going…