But depending on who you ask, telling your interviewer you’re motivated by money is somewhere between “red flag” and “he said what?!” on the scale of Things You Should Never Even Remotely Consider Saying In An Interview.
But what if someone is motivated by money, and honest enough to say so? Is it a guaranteed No Hire? Here are some very good reasons why you should think twice:
Money and morals are not mutually exclusive
Glengarry Glenn Ross is not reality. There is no rule that says people who are motivated by money won’t be motivated to care about their jobs or coworkers. This is especially true in jobs where pay is tied to performance (think sales or incentives), where the ability to earn more money is the primary factor for joining the field. It’s just a carrot (and, hey – we could all use some more beta carotene).
The reality is, employees are going to motivate themselves with what means the most to them. If that happens to be financial success – and it keeps them performing well – then so be it. At least they’re honest with you.
Money and pay should never be taboo
At the root of ignoring money as a motivator is the fact that it’s a touchy subject for both parties. It should always be okay to have an honest (and tactful) conversation about pay and benefits — at any stage in the employee lifecycle. To do any less is to ignore a fundamental reason people work: to have money to maintain the lifestyle they want.
But by keeping the gag order on compensation, you’re inviting it to become a growing source of dissatisfaction for the duration of their (likely short) time with your company. Why not simply acknowledge that money is important and proceed accordingly? It is absolutely crucial to establish pay early and amicably, because…
Money is the one thing you do control
Besides money, there are a litany of other reasons for an employee’s success and motivation. But come next performance review, you won’t find a box to give someone a 4% job satisfaction raise. You can’t make them like their job – you can only try to make it a good one. You can’t make them do better work – you can just help to facilitate it.
Pay is the only thing you can tangibly adjust to compensate for more or better work over time. So talk it through early, acknowledge it as a powerful force behind satisfaction and retention, and make it known that there’s always an opportunity to bring home more bacon. Money motivates employees, be thankful about that.