When Should a Job Candidate Ask About Compensation?

Let’s talk about the Skip the Dishes thing.

Photo credit: Cheryl DeWolfe, CC BY 2.0.

I don’t know if you were on Twitter yesterday evening, but if you were, you might have seen this tweet:

Here’s the background: after completing a successful phone interview for a job at food delivery service Skip the Dishes, a job candidate was invited to take a “menu test.” (I’m not sure what that means in this situation, but in other situations it means “a test that proves you are familiar with the restaurant’s menu.”)

At this point, the candidate emailed Skip the Dishes to ask about wages and benefits. You can see all of the emails if you click through to the original tweet, but the tl;dr is that Skip the Dishes told this candidate that asking about wages revealed that “your priorities are not in sync with those of Skip the Dishes” and canceled the subsequent interview/menu test.

So. The big question that kept half of Twitter up last night: should this person have asked about wages and benefits? Would it have been more appropriate to ask after the menu test, or after a job had been offered? Or was it right to ask about compensation before continuing with the interview process?

There’s also another big question to consider: was Skip the Dishes’ response appropriate? Why not say “we generally discuss compensation after a job offer has been made,” or something that establishes expectations without automatically eliminating the job candidate for asking the question?

Skip the Dishes apologized, by the way, and offered the job candidate a second interview. I’d link to that tweet, except the screenshot they use to prove they did the right thing includes the job candidate’s personal contact information, and now Twitter is yelling at them for not cropping that out and/or not asking for the candidate’s consent.

(Yay Twitter, you lovable hot mess.)

What do you think the job candidate should have done in this situation? Did they ask “too early?” Is there a good way to determine a compensation range before proceeding with an interview process, or do you just have to hang on until you get a job offer and then try to negotiate?

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