It’s not ‘how much did you make in your last job?’; sports broadcaster Lindsay McCormick was also asked if she planned to get ‘knocked up’
Updated: December 13, 2017
It pays to keep your mouth shut.
In October, New York City began its ban on employers asking prospective employees to share their previous salary. When Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the bill earlier this year, he noted that it’s motivation was to achieve equal pay for equal work.
“The simple fact is that women and people of color are frequently paid less for the same work as their white, male counterparts,” said de Blasio. “This Administration has taken bold steps to combat the forces of inequality that hold people back, and this bill builds upon the progress we have made to close the pay gap and ensure everyone is treated with the respect they deserve.”
While the issue of the gender pay gap is undoubtedly important, it’s not the only interview question women should watch out for. Just ask sports broadcaster Lindsay McCormick. The Texas born TV host, who has worked on everything from the Super Bowl to prize fights, shared an Instagram post yesterday detailing how she was asked if she planned to get “knocked up” at an interview with NFL Network.
“The head of hiring talent said to me, ‘If we hire you, do you plan on getting knocked up immediately like the rest of them?'” ‘Them’ as in badass working women who deserve to have a family life as well? ‘Them’ as the women who work their tails off to be taken seriously in a man’s world?” she wrote. Or ‘them’ who bring you a new audience and a tremendous amount of viewership? Because while I don’t plan on ‘getting knocked up,’ I do plan on being like the rest of those brilliant women that our future daughters will one day look up to and see you can have it all.”
Federal law doesn’t explicitly ban asking a female interviewee if she’s pregnant, but the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission discourages such questions. “The EEOC will consider the fact that an employer has asked such a question when evaluating a charge alleging pregnancy discrimination,” the governmental body writes.
New York aside, the likes of Philadelphia and Massachusetts have also recently passed legislation prohibiting employers from asking workers about past pay, but in many spots around the nation it’s perfectly legal to ask the question. And about 43% of job seekers say that they were asked about their salary during the interview process, according to a survey of more than 15,000 job hunters released this year by compensation data and software firm PayScale.
Many people just go ahead and answer it. The Payscale survey found that just 23% of job seekers refused to say how much they were currently paid when an interviewer inquired about it.
But it’s often a big mistake to answer that question, career experts say — at least if you want to get a fat raise with the new job. “No one needs to know what you make currently,” says Cynthia Pong, a career coach at Embrace Change Consulting. “The only reason employers ask this is so that they can low-ball you when they make you an offer and keep you in the same salary bracket. Resist!”
If you’re asked the question early in the interview process, career coach Roy Cohen says you can buy some time by saying something like “I was expecting that you would need to know either my compensation history or my expectations. I’m happy to provide that information, but hopefully we can hold off for the time being.” Then ask more about the position so they start talking about the role itself and you can show them you’re a perfect fit. “You create a competitive advantage [that can help you then get paid more] when you demonstrate with passion and conviction that your skills and experience are a perfect match,” says Cohen — and that takes time to do.
Even if you do that, it’s likely that the salary question will rear its head later. In that case, turn the question around on them to make it about what you want to get paid at the new company, rather than what you get paid now. Say something like “according to my salary research, the going rate for someone with my background is between $X and $Y. I would be comfortable with negotiating a salary within that range,” says Cheryl Palmer, founder of Call to Career.
In many cases, this will do the trick and you won’t have to disclose your salary. But, says, Cohen, “if they insist, give it up,” as you “can always negotiate when an offer is extended.”
And leadership consultant Nancy Halpern points out that if you do end up telling them your salary, you need to have an explanation for why your current salary is so different from your desired one. For example, if you’re coming from a lower salary, explain why with examples why this is — like maybe you began your career in a bad economy so you took what you could get, or you have now gotten more experience and education so you deserve more, says New York City-based Career Coach Carlota Zimmerman.
This story was updated on December 13, 2017 with news of Lindsay McCormick’s experience interviewing at NFL Network
Katerina Ang contributed to this article
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