The dangers of lying about your salary in an interview

By Robert Half on 2 August 2022
Estimated Read Time: 4 minutes

One of the key questions that recruiters or HR managers ask during job interviews is how much you earned at your previous role.

While it may be tempting to inflate your salary in the hopes of securing a higher compensation package, lying about your current salary in a job interview is not a good idea. Here’s why.

Facts don’t lie

If you lie about your current salary you may get caught during these three stages of the recruitment process:

  • At the interview stage - false salaries don’t get past recruiters who know the market rate for your previous job. Experienced recruiters may even know the salary structure at your previous company if it’s well established in your industry.
  • At the post-offer stage - if you’ve listed your former manager as a reference, salary information may be one of the main questions that companies ask during reference checks.
  • After getting the job - there’s always the risk of you spilling the information in salary-related discussions – when you want to negotiate an internal raise, for instance.

You may prematurely disqualify yourself

Creating an inflated salary may cost you future job offers. If your inflated salary for example exceeds the market rate, prospective employers may pass you over as a candidate because you’re deemed as too expensive.

Equally, lying about how much money you earn may also signal to an employer that you are worth more than the actual skills and experience that you bring to the table. This heightens employers’ expectations of you, and may lead to disappointment later on when you cannot deliver – decreasing your likelihood of successful career progress within the company.

Related: Interview techniques and skills

You’re not evaluated on your previous income alone

There are several reasons why companies ask you for your previous job income. They might want to know if they can afford you, compare your pay to the market rate, or determine your value to your previous employer.

That being said, there are other aspects that recruiters and hiring managers will consider when deciding your remuneration. These include internal salary banding ranges, company budget, and the availability of your skills in the market.

Many good employers are aware that paying a competitive salary helps them retain top talent in their industries. Lying about how much money you earn is a different story, however. Potential employers are more likely to see you as unethical or unprofessional and may pass you over as a candidate.

Related: How to prepare for a video interview

Try negotiating instead

You may want to negotiate the pay you deserve by justifying it at the interview stage.

If you were previously earning below market rate, tell your prospective employer that you can no longer work under market rate and prove it to your prospective employer through case studies where you demonstrated above and beyond accomplishments in your portfolio.

To determine what you should be paid at your new job, consider the scope of your new role. If you’re working in the financial services and technology industries, consult the Robert Half Salary Guide for industry benchmarks.

If you are still being offered a salary lower than the market rate, be confident enough to walk away and seek opportunities elsewhere. An interview meeting is a two-way street, after all.

Related: Questions to ask in an interview

Lying about your salary in an interview should be avoided at all cost

Lying about your current salary can derail your career growth and progression. But most of all, it’s simply unprofessional.

It is possible to get the pay you deserve by being honest and clearly indicating what is your expected salary during the interview stage.

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