Should You Talk About Salary

Sharing A Secret

I’ve seen it written lately that it’s now acceptable for candidates to bring up salary during the interview.


I think ‘acceptable’ is the wrong criteria.  The real question should be “Is it advisable?”


And my answer to that is, generally, no.


Why do I say that?


Think about the psychology involved.


If I’m the hiring manager, I’m looking for someone who is interested in solving my challenges, in producing the critical results I need.  And I’m willing to pay for that.  The big question is, how much?


When you bring that up early in the conversation, you signal that you are more interested in the pay you will receive than in the job itself.  You’ve just inserted a gremlin in the back of my mind who is wondering if there is some issue in your past where you weren’t paid what you thought you were worth, and are a flight risk as soon as something better comes up.


You’ve also just distracted me from the discussion that is critical to getting you hired, the one about our needs and how well you fit to them.


I’m also likely to wonder how you can really know what this job is worth, since we have yet to get into a deep discussion of my challenges and how much those are costing me.  The position description and title can give a sense of that value, but only a very superficial one.  It takes that exploration during the interview to really establish it.


And that’s the second issue for the candidate who gets into this too soon.


You’ve in effect already started the salary negotiation, before you’ve gotten me to start associating the cost of my challenges with hiring you.  Yes, I likely have a salary range in mind, but once you get me talking about the things that are keeping me up at night, and what those are costing me, that range is likely to be a lot more flexible.


I’d love to hear what you think about this – post your own comments.  And here’s more on the salary negotiation process.


Here’s more on digging deep into challenges in the interview process.



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