Stupid interviewing rules # 6 and #7

There are rules to interviewing for a job. Some make sense:

  1. Know the job to which you applied. Don’t confuse the application for the underwater basket weaving position with the rocket scientist position.
  2. Know the name of the company.
  3. Don’t wear a stripper outfit to the interview unless you are applying to be a stripper.

And so on. Some rules make much less sense.

There are millions of rules. About ten of those are known to both sides of the process. The rest are secrets kept by the companies doing the hiring, often without the metaphorical left hand knowing what the rules for the right hand are.

Both sides know Rule #6, so that’s a plus, but if you are an applicant then Rule #6 will waste your time, lead you into self-doubt, and is simply unfairly stupid.

Rule #6 is that the employer, in the online application, in the first five seconds of a preliminary phone interview, in whatever early screening process they have, can ask you about your salary requirements. It is rare that a wage or salary is posted in a want ad. The applicant is shooting blind.

Closely related to this is Rule #7: The applicant is forbidden to enquire about wages or benefits until the second interview, at the earliest, or at the actual job offer. This is true even after the employer invokes rule #6 and asks you what your range is. That’s right. If they ask and you say, for example, $30,000 per year, you cannot ask, “Is this in your ballpark range?” To do so is instant interview death.

You might think that the interviewer, upon getting the answer of $30,000 would instantly know that they are only offering $15,000, and they’d then tell the applicant that. Everyone would move along, no harm no foul. Who knows, the applicant might be willing to take the $15,000. Instead, many interviewers will keep the process going, invite you to a face-to-face interview. Let you spin your wheels. Then they don’t contact you with the, “NO! YOU WANT TOO MUCH MONEY.” You wait, wondering “I thought the interview went well, why is there no word?”

You many never know.

If salary ranges were posted, the applicant would know whether they are totally wasting their time with a company. If the process was more transparent, everyone could save time and frustration. But no, it’s a game, and only one side gets the rules.

Yes, the reason for this post is that I think I just played a round of this during a phone interview today.