I'm currently on (for argument's sake) 20k. I'm due to get a pay rise to 25k soon.

I'm going for an interview at a new company soon, and I know that they will ask me what my current salary is. Can I say 25k without any repercussions? If there aren't any, what's there to stop me from saying 30k?

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    This might depend on the country you´re living in, but I would suggest no, they cannot see this. Of course you can say 30k or 40k or 100k. But your counterpart on the other side will probably notice this lie, and then you`ll get nothing. – Tobias H. Aug 6 '14 at 12:33
  • If you say its too high, they could think that you won't accept the offer if they plan to offer you say $25k but could be fine with $20k, so just keep that in mind – Brian Aug 6 '14 at 18:43
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    I'd venture to say that it doesn't matter what you're making now, it matters what THEY are going to pay you. You could give a non-answer of "I'm looking to make around 25k" ect. – Andrew Walters Aug 6 '14 at 19:25
  • +1 to @AndrewWalters, however I have always declined to say as it isn't relevant. More often they ask what I'm looking to get. Then I am either vague, "I will entertain all offers", or I give a range. – AbraCadaver Aug 6 '14 at 21:22
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    @AbraCadaver Well, I think it's relevant in that: (a) It says how much someone else values your work. If someone else is willing to pay you twice the going rate for this job, your claims to be extraordinarily skilled carry more weight. (b) It affects your bargaining position. You normally expect to get a pay raise when you change jobs. You might accept a cut for better benefits or working conditions or some other reason, but most people won't. Whether either of these helps or hurts your bargaining position depends on what your current salary is. You may have good reason to avoid saying. – Jay Aug 7 '14 at 13:52

Why not just tell the truth? If they ask, "How much are you making now?", say, "Well, as of today I'm making 20k, but I've been promised a raise to 25k effective next month" (or whatever the details are). This tells them that if you stay where you are, you know you will be getting 25k, so if they want you to work for them, they either have to offer more than that or some other incentive (better benefits, whatever). In this case the truth is as good as a lie, so why lie?


The risk that you have with not being honest about your salary is that they could ask for a paystub or the previous year's W-2 from your current employer to verify the salary that you told them.

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    I've never had a company ask for proof on something like this. Maybe it depends on the industry, etc. But I'd be very reluctant to say something that was provably false in an interview, because if they did ask for proof, you are now stuck. If I was hiring and caught an applicant in a lie, even if it was about something unimportant, that would immediately make me wonder what else he had lied about, and what he would be lying to me about every day if I hired him. Ethical issues aside, I wouldn't lie in an interview. The risk is too high. – Jay Aug 6 '14 at 17:50
  • I just heard about a former coworker of mine getting asked for paystubs today. You shouldn't really have to answer questions like this (wish they were required by law to have an opt-out like they do for race, etc.), but you likely will be asked. – Jared Aug 7 '14 at 19:16
  • Yeah, the downvoters are going to be in for a rude awakening if they lie because they think companies never try to verify the salary. – pacoverflow Aug 7 '14 at 19:40

Legally yes but highly unlikely.

In the United States, employers are not prohibited from double-checking job applicants' quoted salary figures. If you provide a public or private employer with information about the compensation that you've received in the past, you should expect its hiring department to contact your previous employers and confirm that you're telling the truth. Before deciding to proceed with a new hire, most selective employers will take this step.

However, your previous employers might not provide any information to your prospective employer. Unless they've been issued a subpoena, U.S.-based employers are under no legal obligation to disclose any information about current or former employees. In fact, most employers specifically forbid their human resources departments from discussing such matters. In most cases, these departments will simply confirm your dates of employment and refuse to give out any additional data.

Law reference for US: http://thelawdictionary.org/article/is-it-illegal-for-a-prospective-employer-to-verify-your-current-salary/

The reason most HR departments don't disclose this type of information is it can be a biased point of a reason not to hire. Also think of the ramifications of there being a mistake of the old employer quoting the wrong salary and the person doesn't get the job. The potential new employer says I am sorry you make too much... Now there is a problem. The old employer would rather break ties as quietly as possible. Also, in my own experience no information with a past employer has been verified; however references have been checked.

Now as far as what you can bargain for I would recommend:

  1. Look up the firm on glassdoor.com or a similar website. See what current employees make there. This will give you an idea if you are at a similar rate, above, or below what they currently pay.
  2. Glass door also allows you to look for positions in the same city and/or state. See what the average of the same position in other firms are.
  3. Put into consideration other benefits like profit sharing, 401K, and similar benefits into perspective. Does this employer pay for things like additional schooling and training?
  4. If all else fails, ask for $5K to $10K above what you currently make. If you have experience and unique skills make that apparent at the interview. As stated most companies are trying to keep payroll down, but if you are a rock star and they are indeed a "serious" company they will pay for good talent. If they are not then asking 10K over and bargaining down to $5K gives you something to work with. Remember you want a career where you aren't looking for the next best thing.
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    "The short answer is NO they can't find out legally in the United States." So, your edit basically says that YES they can find out legally in the US, right? – Joe Strazzere Aug 9 '14 at 16:55
  • @JoeStrazzere Rewrote answer with the edited details and remove incorrect info. Restructured answer to include the main question of legality and then of how to bargain. Please remove downvote. – Shawn Aug 11 '14 at 14:56

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