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What’s more important to you — the work itself or how much you’re paid for doing it?

What’s more important to you — the work itself or how much you’re paid for doing it?

The answer to this one is a balancing act. You don’t want to come across as someone running to the biggest pay check, but you don’t want to come across as phony either. It’s best to skew towards loving the work, but to recognize the importance of money too. “I’d do this work for free” is fine if you’re independently wealthy, but interviewers know people have to pay bills.

The answer also depends on the job. For example, if they ask the question at a summer job that involves shoveling manure, they’ll know you’re shoveling onto them if you try to play it as job satisfaction. That isn’t to say you can’t mention satisfaction with a job well done, such as “Let’s face it, this is a menial summer job, not a career. But I’m hard working and there’s a certain satisfaction in an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.”

Knowing the job and company can help with this question. That, of course, means a little research.

Great Offer:
“There’s no doubt I really love this work, so that’s the most important thing. But I know your company pays near the top of the industry, for top people of course. I love the field, which has made it a lot easier to become an expert who can help an organization.”

Opportunity:
“I have bills to pay just like the next guy. As long as the salary is in range with the position and my experience, that kind of takes care of itself. I’m more excited about the opportunities to grow here. This company has quite a reputation for molding the top people in this industry. I’m ready to work hard to get there.”

Pay is More Than Salary
“I tend to look at the whole package. Sure, salary is a part of that. But if there’s a choice between a great paying job with a rotten environment and an average paying job with a great environment, I’ll go with a little less money. I can’t sit in an office day after day doing what I don’t like, in a negative environment. That’s why I’m here. You have a great reputation for treating employees well, and the job is exactly what I enjoy doing, and I do it well.”

Avoid this answer, related by a woman who no doubt didn’t land the job. “If I can get paid for doing nothing, wow!”

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