Tag Archives: how much money

How to talk about money in a job interview

beggar on the street

You aren’t a beggar in a job interview.

Do you hate to be asked about money in an interview?  Are you afraid it will go something like this:

“I really like your background.  I think you would do well.  How much less than $55,000 will you take as a base salary?”

You probably won’t be asked that particular question. It is brutally bad. But it does happen.

Employers hate to ask any money question.  It isn’t polite.  But, you and the employer need to be in the same salary ballpark. Wouldn’t you feel upset if after 3 interviews over a period of a month you were offered a salary of half of what you are willing to take?

What makes the money question worse is that you cannot give a solid answer and win.  If you give a number too high, they may refuse to continue the interviews.  If you give a number too low, they’ll pay that low number and not a higher one you could have gotten.

There is only one way to answer the question.

  1. Compliment — Start out with a compliment.
  2. My now — Let them know what you earn now or in your last job.
  3. Best offer — tell them you want to hear their best offer.

Here’s an example:

“How much do we have to pay you?”

“(Compliment) I like this company.  The opportunity is just what I am looking forward to.  The team is a real winner too.

(My now) I currently earn a $63,000 base plus a bonus of $2500 last year.  I certainly wouldn’t want to earn less.

(Best offer) What I would like is to be able to entertain your best offer.

This answer gives them information to work with.  It is not a refusal.  The heartfelt compliments at the start make them feel good.  You tell them what your baseline for comparison is.  Finally you give them a chance to be generous.

Can I bring up money?

Don’t bring up money in any interview, ever, unless you get a feeling they are going to be way too low. Even then, use the 3 step formula. You can discuss your expectations with an outside recruiter/headhunter any time, but not with the company’s internal HR recruiter or a company interviewer until they bring it up.

If you have questions about benefits, vacations, the 401K program, relocation payments, or other benefits you can ask the internal HR recruiter when you are interviewing face-to-face with HR. You can ask the external recruiter/headhunter any time.

So, what do I do?

Wait for them to mention money, then 1. Compliment them, 2. Tell them your “now”, 3. Ask for their best offer.

Never, ever suggest they don’t have to pay you.  What they pay for, they’ll value.  What they get for free, they’ll take for granted, and then demand as a right.  Hold them up for all the market will bear.  (Lois Bujold)

Something To Do Today

Most people cannot clearly state what they earn.  I don’t know why.  Before you go on an interview write down the clearest, shortest way you can state your current earnings.  Then practice answering “the money question”.


Next:     Why are you leaving your job?

Later:     Will you do anything we ask?

Where else are you interviewing?

Why don’t they give you an answer, Yes or No?

7 ways to show cost cutting and budget savings on your resume

If you would be wealthy, think of saving as well as getting. (Benjamin Franklin)

 Most people have no clue how much money they save at the grocery store, much less how much they save at work.  They don’t know their objectives, normal expenses, or budget at work.  The people who worry about the budget at work get all the credit for saving money and time.  It isn’t hard to become a budget and savings guru.  Just ask your managers how much time an average person is supposed to take to finish each project.  Write that number in your job journal.  If your managers won’t tell you, make an estimate, write it down, and see if you can beat it.  Report back the estimate and results.

At your job you can help save money.  You do it by finding out what performance level is expected, then exceeding that level.  If you get your job done in 4 hours instead of 5, you saved one hour for your company.  If you do that every day for 80 work days, you have saved 80 hours of time. That is two work weeks.  You have saved your company two weeks of your wages in 80 days. Put that into dollars and report it on your resume and in your weekly report to your boss.

Here are some more ways to save money and get credit for it:

If the average salesperson is paid $800 each month for expenses and you spend only $600, you will save your company $2400 each year on expenses.  Make sure your boss knows it.  Take credit.

If a project you are on is supposed to take 8 months and it is done in 6 months, you have helped save 2 months of time.  Brag about it. Convert the 2 months into wages for everyone involved and take full credit with your boss and on your resume.

As a network technician you know that last year the network was down 110 hours during work hours.  This year it was only down 10 hours.  You cut network down time by 100 hours.  You also kept 120 clerks from wasting 100 hours.  In other words, you cut wasted clerical time by 12,000 hours as a network technician.  Report the hours and also estimate the savings of a bare minimum of $120,000 to your boss.  He will want to brag about it to his boss too.  When you are looking for a new job, you should be able to go to your job journal and get that number to brag about.

You suggested and/or made a programming change that allowed the company to reassign 3 people to new jobs.  You saved the company the wages of all those people.  Figure it out and take credit for every dollar.  Is it $30,000 x 3 = $90,000 or is it $60,000 x 3 = $180,000 ?  If you tell your boss how much you saved, he may change the number a little, but he will certainly report the savings to his boss.  You should also put it on your resume.

When you show cost cutting and savings on your resume, you prove you are keeping an eye on expenses.  If you can prove even a minor cost saving, it shows that you are interested in something the hiring manager works on every day.  Take the time to keep a job journal tracking the changes you make and the time and money you save. Then put it down on your resume.  It could get you an interview.  It can even get you a job.

Something To Do Today

Look for ways to prove you save money and time.  Ask your managers what the budget is and then beat the budget.  Track it.


Monday:     Show increased revenue

Later:              Show better customer service

The Heisenberg uncertainty principle

Post-it notes