Is salary the main thing I should look to discuss during a job interview?

Landed a big job interview and not sure what you should discuss? Every new opportunity is a chance for you to make that next step and negotiate a more favourable professional position. 

For many high flyers negotiating salary tops the to-do list because it’s a clear indicator you’re getting the most value from a potential new role — but it’s not necessarily the main thing you should look to discuss.  

From basic requirements to self-fulfilment, your job search is about how a company can fulfil your hierarchy of needs, which means money is jockeying for a position amongst a variety of other factors. 

While there are many questions you should avoid, in this article, we look at the following factors you should look to discuss during a job interview:

  • Potential salary
  • Flexible working hours
  • Company cars and travel arrangements

Interviews are an environment for optimism and positivity, but also a degree of healthy scepticism. Read on as we discuss these vital factors and help you decide whether a certain job opportunity is the right move for you. 

Why salary is a key consideration in your next career move

Salary ensures your financial security, helping you support yourself and those around you.

But is it truly the most important conversation to have during a job interview? 

For many people, the amount you get paid is the difference between renting a flat, buying a home, or being able to move out at all — so discussing money with prospective employers is certainly an important topic for any professional. 

However, salary is a delicate conversation that can easily rub interviewers the wrong way, particularly when you don’t already have a firm offer in place. 

Indeed — a leading online employment website — has these thoughts on talking money

  • Know your worth: research average salaries for similar roles
  • Give a range: avoid a specific number, but ensure its competitive
  • Wait for a formal offer: hold fire until you know the business wants you 

With that said, there are plenty of other talking points that help you understand whether a role is right before you get to number crunching. 

Next, we discuss alternative discussions to have during an interview that provide equal value to talking about potential salary. 

What other factors should you discuss in a job interview? 

Interview situations are a test, both for you and the hosts — this means you should ask lots of questions to better understand the company’s culture and what they can offer you beyond a competitive salary. 

Certain incentives add intrinsic value to the job on offer, helping you picture yourself as more than a number at the end of a contract. Here are some alternative work perks and benefits you should listen out for during the interview: 

Travel arrangements and expenses

Whether you’re applying for a job in fulfilment or simply expected to commute over long distances to get to your place of work, without supporting travel arrangements your prospective role could be more hassle than it’s worth.

Travel is a financial and physical burden that can burn out motivation and eat into your freshly negotiated salary, so discussing travel perks during your interview will help you judge whether an opportunity makes logical sense. 

With that said, some companies won’t see value in footing the running costs or paying for another vehicle; others, however, offer travel perks to subsidise your commute. Some of the most attractive include:  

  • Leased card schemes: often with fuel cards making it easy for you to pay for running costs.
  • Cycle to work scheme: usually involves receiving a discounted bike and tax benefits.
  • Public transport allowances: likely through topping up existing schemes like an Oyster card. 

Another alternative can be making the most of government grants for electric cars, which often involve discounted upfront payments and favourable tax arrangements. 

Either way, travel perks like these are useful to be offered because they: 

  1. Remove your worries about getting to and from work on time (and safely)
  2. Mean you spend less on travel so you can put your wage to better use. 

So remember to discuss travel expenses in your interview before getting excited over your base salary. 

Flexible working hours

Flexible working hours was the job market’s most desired work perk before lockdown, but with around 46% of people now working from home, it’s more important than ever to raise this topic during an interview, not least because it shows a business is willing to work in tandem with your personal life rather than take it over. 

Many modern businesses have made a successful transition to remote working as they understand micromanaging peoples’ lives isn’t conducive to a productive work environment. 

After all, there are lots of distractions and responsibilities waiting for you at home: 

  • Homeschooling
  • Caring for pets 
  • Cooking healthy meals
  • Maintaining regular exercise

During an interview, you can judge the business’s willingness to accommodate all this by establishing whether or not they offer flexible working hours (or wellness days in some cases) to alleviate the pressures. 

 

As your prospective colleagues, it’s also a good idea to ask the interviewers how they feel about working for the business and how they have balanced work with life over the years — this provides valuable insight into your potential experience with the company after signing on the dotted line. 

Summary: does an interview revolve around salary? 

Deciding whether a job opportunity is right for you is about being introspective. 

While talking about money and establishing an understanding of salary is important, it certainly isn’t the end of the conversation. 

The interview is a chance to show how you can complement the business and what the company can do to help you thrive.