G.I. Jobs Virtual Job Fair   |   July 25

Virtual Job Fair   |   July 25

Don’t Answer This Question During Your Interview


In the process of applying for post-military jobs, you’ll be asked all types of questions. Employers will want to know about your experience, education and certifications. Depending on the job and company, you may even be asked to complete an IQ or cognitive test that’s similar to the ASVAB. Additionally, there is one question that may be asked during both the application and interview phases, and you should do whatever you can to avoid answering.

‘What’s Your Current Salary?’

This question comes up for several reasons. For starters, the interviewer will want to ensure that they stay within the allotted budget for the role. Another reason is that some companies really want to know if they are competitive compared to your current employer so they can position themselves to win your talent. Whatever the reason, you should keep this information close to the vest. But whatever you do, never lie about your current salary.  It can bring your integrity into question.

Do This Instead

If you are asked about your current salary on the application, skip the question. If the field is required, simply answer the question by saying “negotiable.” If the question is asked in the interview, you should throw it back to the interviewer.  You can do this by asking if there is a salary range for the role. Sometimes this works and they’ll answer you directly, but the interviewer may come back to you and frame the question in a way that asks about your desired range for your next role. If this happens, which is ideal and less invasive, remain vague. Give a range that is more than your current salary. I typically reply with a $10,000 range (i.e., between $60,000-$70,000). If it sounds like this is a bit of a game, that’s because it is. The key is to advocate for a higher salary while being realistic. If your current salary is $50,000, don’t ask for a range of $150,000 to $160,000 unless you can realistically justify it through a vast amount of experience, education and/or certifications.  

Check Your Local Laws

In some states, it may be against the law for a company to ask about your current salary. A quick Google search should tell you which ones. If you live in one of these states and still get asked the question, this may be a red flag that the company is not a good option. Companies should know which questions are illegal to ask during the hiring process, but it’s on you to know the laws as well.  

The Game is Changing

The salary game continues, but there are always changes in how it’s played. Some companies are taking it upon themselves to be transparent and put salaries in the job description. If you come across one of these companies, it’s a good chance that they will be a great employer. Much like the laws that prohibit a company from asking about your current salary, there are some states where legislation requires employers to disclose salaries for open roles. Regardless of whether a company provides salary information voluntarily or involuntarily, knowing what a role pays before you apply should help alleviate the awkwardness that comes with discussing money.