5 Reasons The Job Interview Is NOT The Time To Talk Money

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Woman in suit



Congratulations—you’ve just landed a job interview and the chance to show your prospective employer why you’re the best candidate for the job. There is plenty of great advice about what to wear, how to prepare yourself, and even how to follow-up after your interview. But what about the topic of compensation?

Let’s face it, most of us work because we need to pay the bills and money is what most of us report as the number one factor we consider before taking a new job. So when it comes to an interview, is it ever appropriate to talk about pay?

We know it’s tempting to ask about compensation, but here are five reasons to skip the money talk until a job offer is on the table:

1. It Makes You Look Inexperienced

Seasoned job-seekers know that money and compensation come up at the end of an interview process when a job offer is being made. Asking about money before you even know if you’re right for the position can make you look inexperienced, or worse, unprofessional. It may not seem logical to wait, but the truth is that other candidates won’t ask about compensation until the end, and this is not the way you want to standout. You want to be remembered for your personal and professional strengths—not for asking the faux pas question.

2. It’s A Distraction

Every minute of an interview is a chance to impress someone and make a genuine connection with them. Asking about salary tends to reinforce the distance between you and the person interviewing you. {click to tweet} It also takes away from the time that you could be learning about your prospective employer’s needs, goals, and ideas for the position. Using your interview time to talk about compensation is akin to talking about your personal issues. There’s a time for that—but it’s not now.

3. It Suggests You’re Motivated By The Wrong Things

Of course, we all need to make a living. But asking about money in your first interview is a bit like asking about someone’s salary on your first date. It’s off-putting because nobody wants to hear that money is the main thing you care about—even if it’s true. You are there to assess whether you’re a good fit for the role—and they are doing the same on their end. The money a part of that “fit” question but it comes later, not first.

4. Your Interviewer May Not Know The Answer

Typically, the first person who interviews you does not have control (or at least, sole control) over decisions regarding compensation. There may be a pre-set salary range set by a hiring manager who you haven’t met, and any changes to compensation may need to be cleared with HR or another senior manager. Sometimes interviews are held without very strict compensation guidelines at all. Whatever the case, don’t assume that the person you’re speaking to knows what compensation is on offer for your role. If it’s determined by someone towards the end of an interview process for a role, why jump the gun by bringing it up now?

5. It’s Awkward

It’s always hard to talk about money, which is not to say that it’s not important. But bringing it up too early makes this already sensitive conversation even tenser. “Awkward” is a two-way street. It’s not just awkward for you to bring it up, it’s awkward for someone to respond to questions about money! So do your interviewer a favor and make their job as easy as possible.

In sum, there’s a reason that talking about money is taboo during an interview feels taboo. It’s not a great topic to broach so early in the job-seeking process, so trust your gut here and avoid talking about money until you’ve received that job offer!

A version of this article originally appeared on Career Contessa.


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