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Old 07-10-2011, 05:18 PM
Omniscient Omniscient is offline
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Job Interview Requesting Last Paystub or W2

I've got a job interview on Monday and they have informed me that I will be required to bring my most recent paystub or W2 with me. This presents several questions for me, but first a little background.

I've been under-employed for over 2 years now. Working part-time in various jobs and doing the occasional contract job while bartending nights. My most recent full-time salaried position was nearly 3 years ago, I have that W2 and paystub and would expect my compensation for this job to be similar to that. That position was a sales position where I was 50% salary and 50% commission/bonus. My end of month pay checks were often 3-4 times what my mid-month pay checks were. Most recently I worked nearly full time (35+ hrs/wk) for the Census for 9 months. That position was hourly and the wage was well below what the expected earns for this job is, however it's only about 8 months out of date, much more recent.

This job I'm interviewing for is a full-time technical job. The companies interview process has been pretty rigorous. It opened with a brief interview at a job fair, which led to a GMAT style aptitude and personality/compatibility exam. I pretty much blew those parts out of the water. Then there was a subsequent phone interview with my potential direct manager who works out of California which went well and he was eager to bring me in for the next phase in the Chicago office. It's during this phase which I'm expected to bring those documents. Long story short, I'm hopeful that I'm close and that this is the final or penultimate step so I don't want to be antagonistic on this point because I'm pretty enthusiastic about the job.

To the questions. Have you folks encountered this? Do any of you work in HR and if so does your company do this? What's the purpose of this? Should I be concerned about it?

It seems like a very inappropriate request for a job interview, that's personal information that I'm somewhat protective of. Obviously since I'm not coming from a strong bargaining position I find it particularly unappealing. My cynical view is that they want to use this information to pay me the bare minimum for which I'd be willing to work regardless of what is commensurate with the job's responsibilities and my experience and aptitude. I suppose there are more pragmatic reasons for this, perhaps simply to verify my resume's veracity and to help fill out payroll forms, but there are simpler ways to go about that.

So, if I assume that this is a tactic to limit my salary, what should I provide them? My large end of month sales paystub from 3 years ago? My most recent part time paystub with the low hourly rate? They asked for the "most recent" but I could certainly make the case that my "most recent" is the one that was full-time and relevant to this position. I'm eager for your advice and experiences.
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  #2  
Old 07-10-2011, 05:21 PM
MareIt MareIt is offline
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I would say "as a 1099 contractor, I do not receive paystubs or W2's"
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Old 07-10-2011, 05:29 PM
Locrian Locrian is offline
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Originally Posted by MareIt View Post
I would say "as a 1099 contractor, I do not receive paystubs or W2's"
VERY good answer. I would do the same.

I've been working freelance jobs in post production for the last two years-- no full time employment. Some of my friends have been asked similar requests like you've been asked, Om. They weren't hired, but it wasn't the same type of job you do.

Have you given them any references? If they're just looking for proof of your previous commitments, and you have a pay stub, I would bring it with me after I used a Sharpie to black out the pay rate and check amount, leaving the SSC or whatever info they're looking for.
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Old 07-10-2011, 05:35 PM
ultrafilter ultrafilter is offline
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Originally Posted by Omniscient View Post
I suppose there are more pragmatic reasons for this, perhaps simply to verify my resume's veracity and to help fill out payroll forms, but there are simpler ways to go about that.
They can get all of that info off a three-year old form. Personally I'd be inclined to tell them where to stick it, but if you need the job, you have to at least pretend to play by their rules.
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  #5  
Old 07-10-2011, 05:41 PM
ultrafilter ultrafilter is offline
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Missed the edit window: If they're willing to make a blatant attempt to screw you over this early in the process, it's pretty likely that it won't be the last one. You might want to think pretty hard about how badly you really want this position.
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  #6  
Old 07-10-2011, 06:23 PM
ladyfoxfyre ladyfoxfyre is offline
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I have never been asked directly for my most recent pay stub, but I think you're correct to be leery about providing it. If there is any way you can avoid doing so, by politely declining but firmly, I would do it. It seems like they're going to lowball an offer and point to your previous low salary as justification. I had a similar conversation with my current employer when I asked to be brought closer to the median of the salary range they provided for the position I was hired onto once my probationary period ended. They said, "But we are paying you X amount more than you were making at your previous job," to which my response was, "But I am not doing my previous job for you, I am in a different position, so the extent to which I was underpaid in my previous position shouldn't be relevant to the extent to which I am exceeding expectations in this one." Their response was, "Oh, yeah. I guess that makes sense."

Also going to echo ultrafilter's advice, if they are trying to screw you over this early in the process then it's unlikely to get better from here on out.
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Old 07-10-2011, 08:15 PM
jasg jasg is offline
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From your previous employer's point of view, they would not like you to share salary information with co-workers or competitors. So, I would say that they had a policy about keeping salaries confidential and that you don't want to break that confidence.

Last edited by jasg; 07-10-2011 at 08:16 PM.. Reason: typo
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  #8  
Old 07-10-2011, 10:20 PM
AuntiePam AuntiePam is offline
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Originally Posted by MareIt View Post
I would say "as a 1099 contractor, I do not receive paystubs or W2's"
Except that he wasn't an independent contractor, and if he's described that position to these people, they'll know, and they'll wonder if he's trying to hide something.

I'd go ahead and give them the paystub from the last permanent job, since the salary was in line with what he's expecting.
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  #9  
Old 07-10-2011, 10:21 PM
AntiCoyote AntiCoyote is offline
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It's common now, just look at ad in the help wanted section. I wouldn't try anything like saying you didn't get pay stubs as they'll just ask for other proof.

What they want is your last pay check. That is what they are going to be negotiating with. They're liable to just stop the process with you and go to the next candidate, even this far along in the process, you can bet you aren't the only one they are looking at.

And if you don't give them what they want and the other guy does, you're out.
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  #10  
Old 07-10-2011, 11:19 PM
Omniscient Omniscient is offline
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You guys have basically echoed my thoughts. First, this isn't a good way to start a relationship with an employee. I'm aware of that and I certainly would be entering this position with a chip on my shoulder. That said, I really do need the job even if it's a transitional position. If they were to low ball me based on my previous part-time position I'd still be likely to consider taking the job simply to eliminate the gap in my resume and use it as a stepping stone to a better job. Being in a weak negotiating position sucks.

I could refuse and justify it the way I have in this thread and echo some of the thoughts you folks have, but AntiCoyote pretty well sums up the issues with that strategy.

I could claim the 1099 excuse since I did file a 1099 last year, but it doesn't read that way on my resume since those sources of income weren't relevant to the position. Plus it invites them to ask for that later which would probably look even worse than my existing W2s since it only accounted for a small portion of my earnings.

The upshot of my situation as I see it is this: provide the recent, low hourly wage, part time paystub and later argue that benchmarking my pay against that is unreasonable, or provide my high salary, full time paystub that's well out of date but relevant to the work.

The benefit to option 1 is that when I'm negotiating I've already been offered the job and I have a very good argument against any ridiculously low salary. If they simply use that W2 as an excuse to pay me the bottom of their salary range budgeted for the position I'd be happy since I'm coming in cold. If they use it to pay me a salary that's just a small percentage of that paystub then I'd probably be earning what their receptionists are earning and I think even they'd be unable to defend that position. The benefit to option 2 is that if they buy my rationale, and/or don't look closely at the dates, they will be offering me a much higher salary. The downside is that it could create a big red flag in my file that ruled me out as a candidate.

I'm leaning towards option one. What I'll probably do is bring both and off-handedly ask whether they want my last full-time position or if they'd prefer the part-time one in hopes they'll tip their hand. Of course that could lead to them asking for both which would be a challenge to discourage.

I should note that the company has a large sales staff, which they probably burn through fairly quickly. I'm not interviewing for a sales position, but instead a more technical accounts manager role. Based on my conversation with my potential boss this position is one of two within the company within a small compartmentalized department. Knowing that it seems unlikely that they'd lowball me to the point that I'd not be at least similar in salary to my counterpart in he same role. So, all these unpleasant hiring policies could be intended to weed out and compensate the sales staff who might be more disposable, my role may not be subject to the same scrutiny.
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  #11  
Old 07-10-2011, 11:56 PM
flickster flickster is offline
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You could always offer to confirm your prior income during negotiation should they extend an offer of employment. At least that way you're giving them a little something up front instead of just coming across as a dick. Assuming of course that this is a position you would really like to have - otherwise, why even go through the interview pain....
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  #12  
Old 07-11-2011, 12:08 AM
guizot guizot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MareIt View Post
I would say "as a 1099 contractor, I do not receive paystubs or W2's"
The 1099 form itself still shows what income a contractor takes in. It's not a "pay stub," in that it doesn't have deductions, etc., but it still shows gross income. Also, when most companies pay the contractor, they issue something that shows how much they're paying the contractor. They'll probably just ask him for these documents instead.
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  #13  
Old 07-11-2011, 01:42 AM
Stink Fish Pot Stink Fish Pot is offline
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I wouldn't give it to them.

This is a strange request from a company that has already made you jump through a number of odd hoops to get to this point.

I'm not even sure it's an ethical request.

Of course, your call. And if they don't offer you a job because you don't show your W-2, don't blame me.
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  #14  
Old 07-11-2011, 02:09 AM
pricciar pricciar is offline
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In a perfect world I would show up at the next meeting without the W-2s and tell them they can go fuck themselves. But, it's not a perfect world and this job seems like a keeper. So, for sure, I would go with the most recent W-2s. It seems to me that it gives them no information for salary negotiation, but at the same time you are being perfectly honest and forthcoming. They can look at the payrate and lowball you, but you will have a strong foundation to argue for more money based on the fact that the job is in a field that has no relation to what you are going to be doing.
Huh. Reading your last post it looks like I am basically just repeating what you said. Option 2 doesn't have an upside to me. The 3 year gap makes the argument for the same salary a moot argument "Sorry, the economy was different than" And, explaining why you have the gap is a pain, as well. I think going with the most recent paperwork makes the most sense.
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Old 07-11-2011, 06:45 PM
Yarster Yarster is offline
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As usual, I'm baffled by the hostility of some of the folks here who think that because some company has on the HR flunky checklist "ask for W-2 or last paystub" that you should immediately firebomb the CEO's house.

I'm sure it is designed to verify that 1) your resume is accurate and 2) what your most recent salary was for negotiating purposes if it comes to that. I filled in all this information for HR when I started at my last company, and they used it to screw me and decide they could lower my salary 10% below what I made at my previous job (a 25% reduction overall) when the economy took a nose dive. I left two months later when I found something else because that was a jerk move on their part. The truth is though, they were going to be jerks anyway, and I was going to leave anyway when they did, so them having the data didn't matter in the long run.

My solution would be to bring the several part time paychecks and the full time one from three years ago, and offer an explanation as to why, which hopefully matches up with your resume. It demonstrates your earning history and that you were at one time making the salary at the sales job for a lot more money. If they're smart, they won't take advantage of that. You know what salary you want and if they aren't willing to meet or exceed that, who cares what's on the paystub/W-2? You won't take it. Or, you'll decide you want it anyway, take the job, and keep looking for something better. No firebombing necessary
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  #16  
Old 07-13-2011, 07:16 PM
iamthewalrus(:3= iamthewalrus(:3= is offline
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Originally Posted by Yarster View Post
I'm sure it is designed to verify that 1) your resume is accurate and 2) what your most recent salary was for negotiating purposes if it comes to that.
Well, of course they want it for negotiating purposes. That doesn't make it reasonable to give it to them. Negotiation is about finding common ground when both parties have hidden information. The more information one side has, the more lopsided the negotiation.

Quote:
I filled in all this information for HR when I started at my last company, and they used it to screw me and decide they could lower my salary 10% below what I made at my previous job (a 25% reduction overall) when the economy took a nose dive. I left two months later when I found something else because that was a jerk move on their part.
Just to make sure I understand: your argument is that you've been burned by this in the past in exactly the way people are predicting, but so what?

Quote:
If they're smart, they won't take advantage of that.
If they weren't going to take advantage of it, why ask for it? Given the obvious distaste most people have for the idea of being required to prove one's former salary, if all they wanted to do was check up on resume accuracy, they could easily call the HR or management of the old employer, or make it clear that a photocopy of the paystub with amounts blacked out would be sufficient.

Quote:
You know what salary you want and if they aren't willing to meet or exceed that, who cares what's on the paystub/W-2? You won't take it. Or, you'll decide you want it anyway, take the job, and keep looking for something better.
The problem with that logic is that it doesn't take into account how the surplus is split. If a company is willing to pay me to do a job, and I'm willing to take it, then, rationally, there's added utility for both of us. Negotiation is the process of determining how that extra utility is split, and ending up with the bare minimum one would accept doesn't qualify as a complete success. If your previous employer hadn't known what you used to make, might they have cut your pay less than they did because they feared you'd quit immediately? We'll never know.

If I were in this position, and I really needed the job, I'd bring along my old W-2 as they asked, accept what they offered, and keep looking for a job with a company that didn't want to dick me over from day 1.

If I didn't really need the job, I'd probably just play dumb. I'd bring in the W-2 with the employer information intact and all the numbers blacked out, and simply refuse to acknowledge that they have any right or interest in what I used to make.
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  #17  
Old 07-13-2011, 09:10 PM
Uber_the_Goober Uber_the_Goober is offline
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I say give them the particular papers they want, but black out all the parts which involve payment. If they ask, just be honest. There's no reason they need to have such an obvious bargaining advantage.
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Old 07-13-2011, 11:42 PM
Weedy Weedy is offline
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So how did it go?
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Old 07-14-2011, 01:17 AM
Snnipe 70E Snnipe 70E is offline
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I work in a trade where the wage can be as low as $15/hr and as high as $50/hr. The guys that work on things or call contractors make the lower scale. the guys that fix things make the higher scale. Most of the time, not always. If I am interviewing someone I want to know what he is making now so I can guess at his skills.

Some employeers want the information so they can make an offer based on what you are making now rather than what the job is and what it should pay. The best way provide them with your present pay stub and the note that it not in the field you are applying for. Also discuss what pay you would expect in the new position. If they come back with a low ball offer you do not have to accept, counter with an offer you will accept and the reason why it should be that much.

Some times you get what you are asking for some times they will say sorry. But if you give them a problem now you may not even get the chance to give a counter offer.
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Old 07-14-2011, 01:50 AM
Omniscient Omniscient is offline
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So how did it go?
It went well. I was led to believe that an offer was imminent, however its not official yet. I'm trying to brace for a let down.
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  #21  
Old 07-14-2011, 09:49 AM
FatBaldGuy FatBaldGuy is offline
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Originally Posted by echo6160 View Post
I say give them the particular papers they want, but black out all the parts which involve payment. If they ask, just be honest. There's no reason they need to have such an obvious bargaining advantage.
This. I would say something lilke, "Here is the form you asked for to verify my previous employment. Obviously, I've blacked out the confidential parts, as I'm sure you can understand."
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  #22  
Old 07-14-2011, 10:09 AM
fluiddruid fluiddruid is offline
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Originally Posted by Yarster View Post
As usual, I'm baffled by the hostility of some of the folks here who think that because some company has on the HR flunky checklist "ask for W-2 or last paystub" that you should immediately firebomb the CEO's house.

I'm sure it is designed to verify that 1) your resume is accurate and 2) what your most recent salary was for negotiating purposes if it comes to that. I filled in all this information for HR when I started at my last company, and they used it to screw me and decide they could lower my salary 10% below what I made at my previous job (a 25% reduction overall) when the economy took a nose dive. I left two months later when I found something else because that was a jerk move on their part. The truth is though, they were going to be jerks anyway, and I was going to leave anyway when they did, so them having the data didn't matter in the long run.
Well, yeah, you gave a really good reason as to why it's objectionable. It's predatory. It feels the same as if you're being hooked to a polygraph and asked what the minimum salary would be to accept the job. It's like a car dealership asking to see your tax return before negotiating on the price of car. There's just no legitimate reason to need the information; they're just throwing their weight around because most people will give in.

How would you think the company would react if an applicant came in and wanted to know the salaries of all peer-level employees before negotiating for a salary? Or even just wanted to know an average for the position, broken down by tenure? They'd tell him to go screw, that's what. "It's confidential."

That said, you have to gauge it all by how much you need the job. If you need it enough to accept whatever salary they offer, then take it. But, I've found, a company that tries to take advantage during hiring is often the same while working there. There are exceptions, of course. I'd be on my guard all the same.

Last edited by fluiddruid; 07-14-2011 at 10:10 AM..
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  #23  
Old 07-14-2011, 04:37 PM
Rachellelogram Rachellelogram is offline
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I like the advice to black out the numbers on there. You could also say you signed an NDA that doesn't permit you to disclose that information, but you would be happy to negotiate salary based on the current market according to *whatever resource*. (I look at the glassdoor website to get an idea of where to start salary negs)

Last edited by Rachellelogram; 07-14-2011 at 04:37 PM..
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  #24  
Old 07-14-2011, 06:15 PM
ethelbert ethelbert is offline
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I am a bit puzzled. On every employment application I have ever filled out I have had to provide salary information. There was never any option to say "I can't tell you that. It's secret." Yes, they want to know your salary history. If you have gotten this far in the process, haven't you given them your salary history? And isn't your last stub simply confirming what you told them?
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Old 07-14-2011, 11:29 PM
Rachellelogram Rachellelogram is offline
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I am a bit puzzled. On every employment application I have ever filled out I have had to provide salary information. There was never any option to say "I can't tell you that. It's secret." Yes, they want to know your salary history. If you have gotten this far in the process, haven't you given them your salary history? And isn't your last stub simply confirming what you told them?
What industry do you work in? I've never been asked for current salary information, only to ballpark a salary preference for the new job (and I always write in "$negotiable"). It hardly seems to be the norm.
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  #26  
Old 07-15-2011, 01:30 AM
Ura-Maru Ura-Maru is offline
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Originally Posted by rachelellogram View Post
What industry do you work in? I've never been asked for current salary information, only to ballpark a salary preference for the new job (and I always write in "$negotiable"). It hardly seems to be the norm.
It's the norm for most 'unskilled' work, and has been for as long as I've been aware. Retail, restaurant work, oil change places, probably the hospitality industry as well. The industries where the employer feels they can dictate any terms they want, and then complain bitterly that they can't find good people and they're loosing too much on turnover retraining.

It would surprise me not at all if this charming trend was working it's way up the industry food chain. It's not illegal, and it sure as hell wasn't HR's alleged sense of decency that stopped them from asking before. They figured it wasn't worth the effort, because it would drive away the people they wanted to hire.

Now it won't. They know you're not going to walk away insulted if they ask, so what's stopping them?

Manners?

--
'Corporate Uniforms' involving stupid polo shirts are probably working their way up as well.
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