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The Most Important Question You Must Ask In a Job Interview: How And When To Say It

Updated on November 03, 2010

So you are looking for work and you need to make a good first impression? Great! It's time to get dressed up in your nice clothes and get groomed. You want to make yourself look presentable and professional. Nearly all jobs will require this to some degree. Now that you've finally taken a shower and crawled out of your mother's basement, it's time to make that money. Once you've reached your job interview, you become a salesman. In this situation, you don't sell a product or service. You must now sell yourself to your potential employer. You want to make your potential employer believe that you are the best person for the job. Many of us make mistakes during the dreaded job interview. One of these is not asking the right questions.

When we sit in the low chair and testify in front of our would-be boss, we get nervous. We stumble over our words. We often stutter. A job interview is like a blind date. You go on your interview not knowing what to expect just like a blind date. You put yourself in a position to be judged on the spot and most people cannot handle the pressure. The first minute of a job interview will likely determine if you will get the job of not. This is your chance to sell yourself. You must take this opportunity to brag and show off your past accomplishments. You must become a corporate whore. Don't worry, it's called butt kissing and many people do it. It's important to be confident. Employers want to hire the best. Not someone that is good enough. You must show that you are the best person for the job.

Think unsexy thoughts, think unsexy thoughts...
Think unsexy thoughts, think unsexy thoughts...

Being good at answering questions is not always the best thing to do in a job interview. Sometimes, you must put your employer on the stand and subject him to some questions yourself. Be sure to ask common questions so you have a basic understanding of the job and your expected duties. Questions like, what do you expect of me? And how many hours will I get? Before you ask these questions, you have to ask the most important question in a job interview: How much is the pay?

After the courteous hellos, do not be afraid to ask about the pay right away. Some of you may be thinking, "Isn't that rude?" To some it maybe considered rude but you will quickly understand my reasoning. Let's say for example that you enter your job interview and you completely avoid the issue of pay. You go through the entire interview and you are doing well. The job interests you and when the interview is over, you find out your pay rate. Let's say it is not up to your standards. You take the job anyways because you find the work satisfactory and you already did good on your interview. Let's look at the situation now. You are now likely to become bitter in your workplace because you feel that your employer hired you for less money than you deserve. This is a lose-lose situation for both parties since your bitterness will cause you to work at a substandard level and this may create tension in the workplace.

A common tactic employers like to do is give you the option to "try it out" for a day. This is a very underhanded tactic that is used by many business owners. Let me explain. The idea behind "try before you hire" is to see how the potential employee reacts to certain conditions of the job. To see how the potential employee handles the workload and to see if he enjoys the job. What's wrong with that? It sounds reasonable. On paper it might sound fine, but it is underhanded and decieving. First, the employer never tells the employee the pay. They do this for a reason. I'll get to that in a bit. Second, the "trial" period of work is almost always a day or 2 without pay. That's free labor for the business. And last, if you do pass the test with flying colors, the boss knows that you enjoy the work. This means he can offer you less money for the job and you are more likely to take it since you like it.  

Do you see the importance of asking for the pay first? Before you talk about the job, always, always ask how much it pays first. If the pay does not satisfy your needs, you can walk away without wasting anymore time. A good way to go about this is to say, "Sir, before we get started, how much does this job pay?" If it does not meet your standards then say, "Sorry sir, this position will not meet my needs. I will not waste any more of our time. Goodbye." This is a polite yet effective way to end the interview.  


When would you ever need to use this in real life? Shouldn't you know how much a job pays before going into an interview? Of course! It's you duty but it is not always the employers duty to give you that information. An employer judges you by appearance and first impressions. They may even offer your pay based on that. For example, you may often see want ads that say something like, "Looking for an experienced graphic designer that I'd fluent in photoshop, flash, indesign, quark express, and html. Pay rate is based on experience." Don't be fooled by the last sentence of the ad. Whenever you see that ad, more than likely, the employer wants to hire a professional that is worth $30 an hour for $20. You will see these ads up all the timer on Craigslist. 

There are many things you can do to ace your job interview. Sometimes you have to ask yourself, "Is this job good enough for me?" Most people feel that their pay rate is too low. If you are one of them, it may be a good idea to demand a higher pay rate. If your employer will not give it to you, then it may be time to look for a new job. Remember, don't take the gig without knowing the pay. Good luck!


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