This Person’s Job Interview Was Canceled Because They Asked How Much They Were Getting Paid

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Searching for a job can be a totally confusing and convoluted process. That there’s an industry built around the simple act of making yourself more appealing for employment is, on its own, fairly disconcerting. After all, the thought that someone has all the answers to your job search problems is at its heart totally impossible.

Every business is different, run by different people wanting different things, and we’re told all the time that finding a job is just as much a luck of the draw ordeal as it is an evaluation of your qualifications and personality–which is why it’s so darn frustrating. Is your cover letter too short? Too long? Is this resume eye-catching, or too eye-catching, or does this company even want to see an eye-catching resume? We send our credentials out into the world, presumably filled with hope, and as the weeks crawl by, the reality of those materials not even having been looked at becomes more probable in our heads.

One particularly corrupted aspect of the job search process is the negotiation process, or rather what counts for one. Potential employees are asked constantly to evaluate what they think they’re worth during the interview process, a task that ultimately becomes more about applicants undervaluing themselves to fit a certain criteria than actually asking for a livable wage. Of course, everyone deserves to know what they’ll be getting out of a job they’re applying for (another problem with the way the interviewing process is currently structured: companies’ tendency to ask an abundance of questions like “why here?” while pretending that people aren’t looking for employment to, you know, earn income and live their lives). Which is why the Canada-based food delivery service SkipTheDishes’ response to Taylor Byrnes is so baffling.

Byrnes, who lives in Winnipeg, had already made it to the second interview for a menu development job–an accomplishment in and of itself that usually means the company has taken interest. Like anyone who sees the road to possible future employment, she wanted to know what her future had in store–so she asked SkipTheDishes, prior to that second interview, how much she would be making if she were to get the position, and what potential benefits came with the job (she didn’t ask brusquely either–there was a smiley emoji at the end of the message). This is important stuff to know regardless of financial stability because, as anyone can attest, future income and benefits are things you plan for. For whatever reason, though, SkipTheDishes didn’t see things that way. Byrnes’ contact at the company, Victoria, responded abruptly with the following message:

“Your questions are valid ones and we would like to clarify where we may have not communicated our position clearly. As a startup company, we seek out challenges and new opportunities. We believe in hard work and perseverance in pursuit of company goals as opposed to focusing on compensation. Our corporate culture may be unique in this way, but it is paramount that staff display intrinsic motivation and are proven self-starters.

For these reasons, questions about compensation and benefits at such an early stage is a concern related to organizational fit.”

You can see the entire exchange below.

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First, a couple points of outrage. A lot of the language in Victoria’s message seems to put a brand-friendly face on an exploitative environment, and I’m not sure what universe she lives in where an exploitative “corporate culture” can be called “unique” (admittedly, most startup companies are willing to call anything about their corporate environment unique, so this isn’t to surprising). On top of that, the period between the first and second interview is not “an early stage.” Do they expect Byrnes to ask about her wages as she’s entering the front door?

Byrnes clapped back, posting the whole thing on Twitter and calling for a boycott of the company.

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And others joined in on the outrage storm with appropriately fired-up responses.

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For their part, SkipTheDishes claims that they’ve since reached out to Byrnes to offer her the second interview (too little to late, presumably), with founder Joshua Simair telling Buzzfeed “The email sent to Taylor was wrong and does not represent our team’s approach or values.” They also promise to train staff in order to avoid similar situations in the future.

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