The rule of thumb is to never talk about money on the first interview. I’ve had more candidates over the years get eliminated probably by making this mistake than most any other in the initial interview. The biggest mistakes that people make are asking stupid stuff during the initial interview like, “What does this job pay? I making $XXXX now and I want to be sure that what you all are paying is in line with what I need.”
Anything, frankly, in an initial interview that even smacks of, “what can you do for me?” Is going to send the interview in the wrong direction. if you give companies good enough reasons of why they ought to hire you, they will give you good enough reasons as to why you should go to work there and you don’t have to worry about the money or anything else. Now you may not accept the job…for lots of reasons…but you want to be in the drivers seat and get the offer.
The only comment you should make about money in an initial interview should center around a statement of what you are making now and then postponing a discussion of what you might be looking for. So, when you are asked “what kind of $$$ are you looking for?” The answer: “well, I am presently making $XXXX (…or was making $XXX) and I’m not as concerned about the money as I am the company, the people, and the opportunity. I have found that if all of those things come together, the money usually takes care of itself. I’m sure we will get a chance to discuss that down the line.” And leave it at that…don’t say any more.
If you are pressed by the interviewing authority to talk more about money, insist again that money is just one aspect of an opportunity and, just like the company will do, and you will take that into account with all of the other factors about the job.
Remember, again companies are often more flexible about the money they’ll pay the more they like you as a candidate. We had a CFO candidate sell himself so well that, even though they told us the job would pay $150,000 they wound up offering our candidate $250,000. Now that’s a pretty drastic difference and not one we see daily, but nonetheless it happened primarily because the candidate didn’t discuss money during most any of the interviews.