Compensation not only includes a salary but other monetary benefits like vacation pay, health insurance, travel allowance, work-from-home allowance, stocks and equity and retirement bonuses. All this information is necessary for the candidate to have before deciding to work for an employer.

An interview is when both the employer and the candidate get to know each other. Discussing compensation during the interview is one of the most important strategies for candidates to gain all this information.   If  expectations around compensation are not aligned, it is a problem for both parties involved. 

The current labor market is highly candidate-driven. Organizations are looking to attract talented employees rather than the other way around. Candidates not only consider the salary or the base pay but also other additional benefits while evaluating a job offer.

With a large number of open roles, candidates have choices. On the other hand, organizations must hire quickly and efficiently. Honest conversations about compensation will save time and energy for everyone involved.  

But Why Should You Ask About Salary?

For a long time, compensation has been a tricky subject to discuss. Without compensation and benefits information explicitly mentioned in  job advertisements, candidates are often left guessing what to expect.

Despite this, discussing salary during interviews is not often advised. Candidates are actively discouraged from initiating conversations around compensation. This is especially true during the preliminary stages of the interview process. But the times they are a- changin’. With an increasing push towards pay transparency, candidates and employers alike are being encouraged to talk about compensation.

In the state of Colorado and others like Nevada, employers are required by law to disclose compensation ranges to the candidates applying for employment. Come May 15 2022, employers in New York will also be required to disclose salary ranges for advertised positions.

However, despite this welcome change, conversations surrounding compensation can be difficult and nerve-racking. They also require the right balance between tact, assertiveness and timing. A good question timed wrongly will do more harm than good. Avoid raising the salary question during the first interview itself.

Focus on showing what you bring to the table and then initiate the compensation dialogue in the second interview. Dialogues about compensation go beyond, ‘How much will I make in this role?’. Here are a few crucial questions that every candidate should ask about compensation during a job interview.

How is the Salary for This Role Determined?

This question is not so much to understand the administrative process of determining a salary but to understand if you are being offered a fair wage. If you have already researched the present market rate for your role, you will know if the organization is being liberal with their definition of “market rates.” 

If a company is offering low pay but chalking it up as being ‘competitive’, it will reflect in their answer to this question. If they disregard your expertise and qualifications by offering lower pay, you will know you may not want to join the organization.  

How Does the Compensation for This Role Compare to the Compensation Offered by Other Companies for Similar Roles?

This is a simple, assertive and polite question to begin the conversation about compensation. While applying for a job, you would expect a competitive compensation package. A competitive package is based on the living expenses, the market value for similar roles and other additional benefits.

Do your own research before springing this question.

You can gain information about salaries and benefits from online portals like Glassdoor. If you have information about the market rate and compensation offered at other organizations, you will be able to negotiate better with the employer. If the offer is not comparable, you can choose to discontinue the application and pursue other leads.

What Are the Salary Ranges for Remote Workers? Is Salary Different for In-Office, Virtual and Hybrid Employees?

Location is an important factor in salary ranges across the world. With varied living costs in different cities, salary ranges also differ significantly. Since the pandemic, remote and hybrid work arrangements have become commonplace.

Remote work allows individuals from anywhere to work where they desire. However, in the United States, employment laws differ from state to state. So, if an organization employs individuals from another state, they are required to take into account the laws from those states. 

This has now prompted some organizations to adopt geographic pay policies. According to a survey, 67% of remote workers expect their pay to reflect their location. If you are looking to work in remote and hybrid work settings, this is a question you should definitely ask. 

Is There Room for Negotiation?

Usually, employers do not mention compensation in the advertisement as they fear losing leverage during negotiations. Based on how the organization answers your other questions, you will know if you can negotiate a better deal for yourself. 

If this is a new job or your first job, and you see yourself working here for a few years, a good starting compensation might be more motivating. In addition, you might need certain things like a travel allowance or a work-from-home set-up to make your work easier. 

What Are the Additional Benefits Included in the Compensation Package?

A complete compensation package consists of a salary or hourly pay and other benefits like bonuses, overtime, vacation pay, retirement plans, education reimbursement and insurance. These additional benefits are what make the offer lucrative.

In the current competitive market, you should consider these additional benefits while talking compensation with a potential employer. 

What Does Growth Look Like for This Role?

Work or employment is more than just about money or a fixed salary. Although money is an important factor that impacts work, personal and professional development is equally important. Candidates thrive in a work environment where they can learn and progress.

Promotions and raises allow employees to do just that. If you are joining a new job, you will likely spend the next few years here. However, if there is no room for development, you may develop feelings of resentment and stagnancy.

While assessing your future at the company, if you expect to stay on for longer, it is essential to determine if they encourage growth and progress. You should also confirm that there are monetary benefits that go hand in hand with your advancement.

If a potential promotion is not accompanied by an equivalent salary increase, it is something to consider. 


Organizations often use appealing compensation to attract new employees. However, honest discussions surrounding compensation are still a little off-limits. In this tight labor market, compensation dialogues are important to determine the right fit. Candidates should confidently initiate the conversation about compensation.

The questions should go beyond just base pay, however. Candidates should ask about how the pay is determined, and how it compares with other offers, the benefits, promotions and raises associated with the job. As a candidate armed with the right information, you can make an employment decision more confidently. 

Dan Roche

Dan Roche is the Director of Marketing at Decusoft and has spent nearly 25 years marketing SaaS technologies. Decusoft, through their Compose software, is helping firms simplify and manage their complex compensation programs.