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Mann som snakker med kvinne
Salary is an important factor in our choice of jobs, points out lawyer at Tekna, Arve Vaale-Halberg.

Advice and Tips

Should you ever ask about salary during a job interview?

Published: Jan. 9 2023

Should you wait until you get your employment contract proposal before looking at the salary?

As a job seeker, you expect a certain amount of salary when looking for a new position. You might be afraid of spending a lot of time on long interview processes involving cases and multiple meetings – only to discover that the company either can’t afford or doesn’t want to offer you the salary you feel you deserve.

 So when should you ask your potential employer about a salary or salary range? 

Tekna attorney and working life/legal expert Arve Vaale-Hallberg has the answer. 

– It depends on the situation and how you bring it up. 

– Feel free to ask about this during your first interview if it doesn’t seem strange to do so. Many employers that actively recruit new employees are familiar with Tekna’s salary statistics. Using these statistics, they’re able to give you information about the salary levels in their organization.

– Can asking ruin everything, or can it help your chances of getting the job? 

– It’s kind of a delicate question, so it depends on the situation and how you bring it up. In addition to finding a job interesting, salary is a point we naturally consider when choosing where to work, and employers know this.

– So I’d say that it’d be bordering on sensational if you weren’t focused on what your salary might be for the job in question. Of course, your interviewers have read your CV, so they know about your accomplishments and experiences, all of which shed light on how you might be a good candidate to become their next co-worker. Based on these factors, they should be able to give you a salary estimate. 

I’d say that it’d be bordering on sensational if you weren’t focused on what your salary might be.

– The worst thing is getting an answer that goes something like, «I’m sure we’ll come to some kind of agreement», which you’ll just have to accept during the interview, the attorney advises.

– Inside information should be verified

If you have the chance to call someone working in a similar position in the company where you’re interviewing, it might be a good idea to do so before moving forward in the interview process.

– If you have access to this kind of inside information from people you know well, there’s nothing wrong about it. At the same time, remember that this information isn’t necessarily «correct». For instance, after the oil and gas industry downsized, who’d employees who’d been at a company for two-three years saw that new hires’ salaries were higher than their own.

– They’d been going through several lean years, some with almost no salary increase at all, while the new hires experienced that the market was «going their way», and companies had to increase their salary offers considerably in order to remain competitive when recruiting new employees. 

– Statistically speaking, given this type of situation, information from somebody who’s had a two-year wage freeze and graduated during a time period that was considerably better than when you graduated isn’t illustrative for what you’d be able to get if you were hired tomorrow. In other words, while inside information is good information, it should be supplemented with even more information, and/or verified, he explains.

– Can this information be found in any other way?

– Open online searches can of course give you access to more general information – which should be verified. You can also do a search of Tekna’s articles, for example Tekna Magasinet

– These are typical searches you should do before speaking with a Tekna representative; you can then ask them about the information you’ve gotten and have it evaluated from a more knowledge-based perspective, he says. 

– Can Tekna help? 

– You can contact us to find out if Tekna has representatives in the organization. If so, you can contact them and find out about general salary levels for that type of position. While this representative might not have that kind of information, they can probably tell you a bit more about the organization’s salary growth prospects.  
– Be aware of the fact that Tekna doesn’t have a complete overview of salary levels in individual companies, he notes. 

– Should employers be better at including salary levels in job postings? 

– Employers profit when we don’t talk about how much we’re making. And they profit most because of the fact that this topic is almost taboo in Norwegian work culture – with the exception of jobs in sectors where collective bargaining agreements almost completely determine salary levels.

– This relates to among other things the idea that personal salary information challenges our egalitarian principles. Yet I think we have to acknowledge that when two people who are working in similar positions know that they’re at different salary levels, one of them will become dissatisfied, seeing themselves as underpaid and unappreciated – conditions that can really harm their peace of mind. From the company’s point of view, these employees’ different performance levels might be seen as a reason for paying them unequally; but this viewpoint is still difficult to explain, especially to the employee who feels like they’re being underpaid. 

– This is why it shouldn’t be assumed that we’ll get a better working life from a mental health perspective if salary information is made more transparent. But more openness would make it more difficult for employers to defend paying different salary amounts to employees who are doing similar work, says the Tekna expert. 

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