How to Answer the Interview Question: The Money or the Work, Which is Most Important?

By Arlene O’ReillyInterview question

Everyone needs money. We cannot deny it is importance, especially when we are in transition and less money is coming in. When a hiring manager asks which is more important to you, the money or the work, your future may depend on the answer. It could influence whether you are considered a serious candidate. And if you are offered the job, your answer could affect your salary negotiations.

This question is tricky for job seekers. You want to express the right balance of importance between money and purpose. Your work has to be more important but you cannot minimize money. According to a article, “The work should always be more important than the money. You (will) seem like a good employee and as though you really want the specific job regardless of pay.” With this answer you can also show the Hiring Manger that you are a team player.

“Our impulse toward the group is actually a more effective survival mechanism than our more individualistic and selfish impulses,” says Ericka Andersen, a management consultant. “The impulse to make money is primarily an individualistic motivation.”

In other words, if you are only driven by money, you probably will not collaborate well. In this new economy, companies want teams to work together creating products or solutions their customers want and need.

“A team driven by money for its members — extrinsic motivation — is less likely to be innovative,” according to Steve Denning, a management and leadership consultant. He goes on to say, “Money creates tunnel vision. In today’s marketplace where innovation has become central, we would expect organizations with an internal culture of competition to be generally less agile and innovative and also less likely to prevail over time.”

Andersen says people are not inspired by money but rather, “Most people seem much more inspired by the idea of working with others to serve customers or to create a truly great product or service than by the pure idea of making buckets of cash.”

Back to the money side of the Hiring Manager’s question — beware. Do not give up too much too soon. The article on advises that the money part of this question, “… could also be a trick hoping to convince you to take a salary lower than desired. Do not fall for this ploy either.” Do not offer to work for lower pay to demonstrate how much you value this job. This response seriously weakens your ability to negotiate salary once you get an offer. An employer, who thinks you are desperate for a job, might offer it to you but at a deeply reduced salary.

The article advises you to tell the Hiring Manager that while you appreciate the work, you expect a reasonable salary for your services. You have to convey your belief in the value you bring to an employer.

This is a tricky question. If your desire to please the Hiring Manager takes over, you could lose later at the negotiating table. Prepare, and your answer will demonstrate your worth to any employer.


Job Interview Question & Answer: Which is More Important to You, the Money or the Work?

Steve Denning and Ericka Andersen , Just In It For the Money? That May Not Work


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