Talking about salary during a first interview: Why it’s a big no-no

Asking an interviewer, a handful of insightful and interesting questions at the end of your session together is interview etiquette 101. It’s a fantastic way to show your enthusiasm for the role, whilst also further expanding your knowledge of the company and interviewer.

But there’s one question that’s considered a big no-no during the vital first-stage interview; ‘how much will I be paid?’

This might come as a surprise for many of you job seekers out there as salary is a highly important factor when searching for a new job. If you find out that the salary is not in line with your expectations, you can avoid wasting your time, as well as the recruiters and interviewers and look for opportunities elsewhere. On the other hand, if you discover that you’ll receive a generous remuneration package for your skills and experience if you get the job, you’ll be even more eager to impress and work hard.

With reasons like these, asking about salary can seem like a no-brainer. However, talking about money can easily backfire on you and can be damaging to the progression for the role, if you do it too prematurely.

To help you gain a better understanding of how and when to talk about salary during the interview process, here are our expert tips.

Give yourself time

Your first interview is an opportunity for your interviewer to get to know you, find out more about your current and previous work and to identify your strengths and attributes. It can also help you to learn more about the role and the company culture and whether the company shares the same values as you.

Before you even start thinking about sparking up a conversation about your salary expectations, you need to give yourself a chance to assess if the job is right for you and to display your suitability to the interviewer. So, at this early stage, prioritise on acing all of the interview basics, such as demonstrating your experience to giving examples of your leadership and problem-solving skills.

Unless the interviewer brings it up, steer clear from talking about money as it can make it seem that you don’t have a lot to offer and little to talk about. It’s often recommended that all money talk is on pause until at least the second interview so that both parties can focus on getting to know each other before the formality of salary is introduced.

If you’re working with a recruiter and you absolutely need to know what the salary is, it can be beneficial to touch base with them before the interview as they will know what the average salary is likely to be, which can help to put you at ease.

Don’t imply that money is your main motivation

Many of us would be lying if we were to say that job opportunities with higher salaries aren’t appealing. We’d all love to have the extra disposable income to get a new car or house and go on lavish holidays each year. But suggesting at any stage of the process, from your initial application to your final interview, that money is your biggest motivator can be a big mistake.

It can make it seem that you value the monetary benefits being offered by the company more than the opportunities, skills and experience it can provide. This can be a red flag for the interviewer and gives the impression that you’ll leave as soon as a better offer comes along elsewhere. So even if money is one of your main motivators, focus on telling them more about your other motivators, such as the opportunity to progress your career or the chance to build your own team.


Do your research

When you’ve determined that the interviewer is interested in you and you’re interested in the company and the role, only then should you decide to discuss salary expectations. However, rather than mentioning a specific figure- offer a salary range instead. This will show that you’re flexible, which can work in your favour when it comes to negotiating a salary the reflects your skills and experience.

Do your research before this conversation occurs by talking to your recruiter and friends in the industry and by reading salary guides for a clearer picture of how much you should be getting paid. This too can also help your negotiation efforts and can prevent you from getting a less than average salary package for your industry. But most importantly, know your worth. Don't feel pressured into a role with a low-level salary if you feel like your skills and expertise warrant a higher one.

Even though you might be desperate to take the job, being patient and taking the time to prove your value as a prospective employee is bound to impress your interviewer and get you the salary you deserve.

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Lauren Whittaker

2nd October

Career Advice