Interviews: the right way to talk about salary

Avoid these top 3 mistakes when talking about money

Paula S. Katz | June 5, 2015

Most likely you won’t know the salary and bonus details before you go into a job interview. While that information is obviously important to you, there’s a right and wrong way to approach the topic.

Here are the pitfalls, according to Steve Look, executive vice president of recruiting, The Medicus Firm, Dallas, and Regina Levison, vice president, client development, Jordan Search Consultants, St. Louis:

  1. Pushing too early in the meeting. While you may feel rushed, resist the impulse to dive into money talk. The employer is not ready to go there yet. “It will be a turnoff because the employer would rather hear you’re interested in the practice,” Mr. Look says. “Tread lightly early.”

In fact, Ms. Levison emphasizes that your first three questions should avoid the topic entirely. “They shouldn’t ask how much the job pays, how much time they’ll get off, and whether malpractice insurance is paid for,” she advises.

  1. Talking excessively about other offers. In these instances, the client may perceive he’s being lured into a bidding war. “It makes you sound mercenary, like you’re looking for the best offer,” Mr. Look says. Once you get an offer, it’s OK to talk about others. “Say, “I appreciate the offer. Here’s what other offer has offered me.’ But in an initial interview don’t say, ‘Did you know your competitor across the street is offering $200,000?’”
  1. Avoiding the topic of loan repayment. If this is a deal-breaker for you and you’ve already received offers from other places, it’s appropriate at the end of an interview to ask about loan repayment, Ms. Levison says.

So when is it OK to talk dollars? According to Ms. Levison, if you get several offers and your top choice geographically is below what your third is offering, “start negotiating.”

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