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How to Discuss Money in an Employment Interview

You're interviewing for a position, or you're the interviewer, regardless, the elephant in the room is money. Granted, it shouldn't be, but it often is. My humble opinion is that a job listing should post a salary range, so you don't waste your time with candidates who don't fit.


I will share some ideas about discussing money in an employment interview and how to kick the elephant out of the room. Still, the reality is that in most interviews, discussing money is in the least – uncomfortable. It doesn't have to be. In most cases, discussing salary can and should be an open and transparent conversation, which fits both the company and the candidate's needs.


How to Discuss Money in an Employment Interview


From the Point of View of the Interviewer


A friend shared with me about a recent interview she conducted. Two of the owners of the business joined her at the table. The two owners didn't conduct interviews as often as they did when the company was younger, so they let my friend take the lead. When it came time to talk about salary, she began a discussion with something like this, "I want to meet your needs and advise you the best I can about salary, may I ask what you want to make and what you need to make?" She put it in her own words, but the point was to open a transparent dialogue about income. The candidate was within the salary range, and after deliberation the candidate was offered the job the following day.


From the Point of View of the Candidate


The dichotomy of sitting in the interview chair and discussing income is that you don't want to undersell yourself or price yourself out of the market. So, how do you avoid going under or over? The best way is, to be honest. Share what you want to make and where you'd be willing to begin. You might want to divulge this early in the interview process to avoid wasting each other's time. Be straightforward and ask what has been budgeted for the position.


You might also think about what's important to you other than money. Would flexible scheduling, remote work, wellness programs, paid volunteer time, a company culture that fits your personality, or exceptional benefits outweigh income? And if the income isn't where you hoped it would be, you might suggest bonuses based on performance, a 90-day review, or other compromises.


Tell the Truth


How to discuss money in an employment interview isn't one size fits all. None of what I've suggested here may fit your style, needs, or disposition, but that doesn't matter because the point that I want to share is that the best way to talk about salary from either perspective is to hold an open and honest dialogue. As an employment candidate, the key isn't to highball your income needs or as a business to lowball what you're willing to pay. It's to talk about it openly and honestly. How else would you know if it's a good fit?






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