startup, compensation, hiring |

2 Min Read

Why we’re going to stop asking candidates about their salary expectations before we make an offer

Mike Arauz

I used to believe: While asking a candidate to share their salary expectation wasn’t ideal, it was a good way for us at August to gut-check our estimate of the candidate’s capacity level. There is no way around the fact that we are less good at knowing a candidate’s capacity level during the hiring and evaluation process than we will be after we’ve been working together for a while; and we bring our own systemic and cultural biases to bear in our individual assessments of candidates. With this in mind, asking a candidate to share their salary expectations was an imperfect, but fair way to offset our internal biases and the shortcomings in our ability to estimate a candidate’s capacity level. And, I believed, that the transparency and equity of our comp model made up for the potential external systemic and cultural bias that might influence a candidate’s compensation.

But, after reading this article — Massachusetts Becomes First State Ever To Ban Employers From Asking For Salary Histories— and becoming aware of this law passed in Massachusetts, I have changed my mind and position.

I now believe: Asking any candidate to share their salary expectations before we share our offer, and using that information as an input for confirming our offer, invites external systemic and cultural biases that disadvantage women in particular and other minorities in general into our process in a way that undermines our commitment to EQUITY as a core value. AND that, from now on, we will stop asking any candidate to share their salary expectations with us before we share our proposed offer.

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