Every Job Interview at Salesforce Includes This Single 6-Word Question, and It's Totally Brilliant

It's a smart question that takes care of a nagging problem. By Bill Murphy Jr.Contributing editor,, as printed in Inc. Magazine. CREDIT: Getty Images Imagine a job applicant who really wants to work at Salesforce. She applies and get an interview. She's truly psyched. I'm pretty sure I can guarantee at least one question she'll be asked in the interview. And it's one that maybe your company should adopt, too. It's a question designed to solve a specific problem -- one that Salesforce faces, sure, but one that really, the entire workforce faces. And that your potential employee may face as well. That question is: "What is the compensation you expect?" Who sets the debate? You might be scratching your head here. What's so unusual about that? Don't companies normally ask what applicants what their salary expectations are? Actually, no -- or at least not all of them do. And that's a problem, because the question many had been asking instead was more along the lines of, "What is your current salary?" You can see the difference. It's more than a small nuance. Asking what an applicant expects to make puts the power in his or her hands as the job applicant. Maybe they'd rather that the company make the first offer, true, but at the question is out there, there without strings. Asking instead what for an applicant to reveal current salary information sets the table to peg the new salary discussion to what they were making in that previous job -- even if it's one in which they might have felt underpaid. A compound effect Stretch this out over time -- go from job to new job, each time with their new salary influenced by the fact that they were making less than you should have been at your last job -- and the results are compounded. As an employer, there might be a temptation to say, well, that's a good thing, right? It means you can get a highly qualified employee at a lower salary than you'd otherwise pay. Maybe that's true in the short term. But you should pay people what they're worth, if only for the pragmatic reason that if they're good employees, they'll be costly to replace. Moreover, it's illegal to ask that "what do you make now?" question in at least 14 states now, for exactly the reason we're discussing. 'Every aspect of the employee journey' That's why Cindy Robbins, the chief people officer at Salesforce, who revealed the phrasing of Salesforce's compensation question in a blog post this week, timed it to coincide with Equal Pay Day. Salesforce has had a focus on pay equality going back to at least 2015, when the company audited itself and determined that it should be paying an additional $3 million to close wage gaps among its employees. This year, Robbins said, Salesforce spent another $1.6 million to increase employee pay after a similar audit -- the fourth annual one. That, as Sarah Todd explained at Quartz, led to the discussion of what questions the company asks during interviews. So, follow a good example. And good luck with your recruiting. Just ask the 6-word question they use at Salesforce, instead of the other one that can get you in trouble. PUBLISHED ON: APR 6, 2019 Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.