What is More Important to You: The Money or the Work?

This is a guest post from Ron Haynes, editor of The Wisdom Journal and author of a new eBook, The Inner View of Your Interview, exposing the motivations behind today’s top 100 job interview questions. Ron has been interviewing people for various positions for over two decades and uses his new eBook to give job seekers an insider’s peek into the mind of an interviewer.

Much of our life is about choices and interviewers know that. At times in your next job interview, your interviewer may pose a question that forces you to make a choice between two competing alternatives. But be careful ’ these questions are asked for a reason and the choices you’re given are usually designed to reveal something about your personality, your work tendencies, or how you’ll react under stress. Just remember, there are usually more than just two choices. Don’t allow yourself to be forced into a false dichotomy.

That’s the idea behind Question #87 in the book:

Question 87:  What is more important to you: the money or the work?

Money is always important, but the work you perform is the most important. Every employee who has quit a job in frustration knows the importance of enjoying their line of work. Let’s face it, there ARE a few positions that you wouldn’t do no matter the salary. Watched any episodes of Dirty Jobs recently?

WORST ANSWER: This question may be posed to you in different ways, at different times in the interview. The interviewer knows what he’s doing: he’s looking for inconsistent answers on your part to determine if you’ve been coached or have read an eBook on interviewing. The worst thing you could do is answer differently than you did before. At that point, your consistency comes into question and the one thing that’s valued across all cultures is consistency.

BEST ANSWER: The best answer is to put things into perspective. Money IS important — highly important — after all, no one works for free, but enjoying your work, your co-workers, and boss rank higher. We all know people, perhaps you’ve been in this same circumstance, who were highly paid but despised their job. You don’t want to find yourself in that position but at the same time, you don’t want to love your job but have to work 2 or 3 of them to put food on the table and live the lifestyle you want.

Example: “My honest answer is that it depends on the money and the work. Obviously there are positions I wouldn’t do no matter the pay, but others I would consider on a volunteer basis. In reality, though, I don’t think a strong compensation package and enjoyable work are mutually exclusive. My desire is to work in a field that offers me not only the challenge of growth and personal development, but professional development as well. Based on what I’ve learned about this open position at your company, I believe I’m an ideal fit.”

If you’d like to read more about how to prepare for your next job interview, check out The Inner View of Your Interview today and read the motivations behind and the best answers to the other 99 questions!

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Filed Under: career


About the Author:


What I find toughest is the (perhaps) arbitrary rule that everyone should stick with a job they take, even if they hate it more than anything, for at least one, preferably two years. That can be really difficult and I'm not sure if I agree with it or not. From the clients I have in my job I see it confirmed that no amount of money will make someone truly happy, if they are not happy with their families, their work, or their lives in general.


My uncle told me, "Be careful what you get good at." That has stuck with me my whole life. Personally, if I couldn't make enough money doing what I loved, I would rather learn to love something that would make me a lot of money.

Kevin @ Thousandaire.com
Kevin @ Thousandaire.com

It depends on what work you do and how much time you spend with your job. If you are trying to create a self-sustainable business that requires very little of your time or effort, then the money is more important. Who cares if you're unhappy for the 4 hours a week you're working, as long as that four hours is bringing in enough income?

If you're working 40+ hours a week, then I'd say the work is probably more important.

Briana @ GBR
Briana @ GBR

I think that's a realistic answer; it DOES combine both. You don't want to make lots of money but loathe waking up to go to your job every morning. Lots of people opt to do what they love, even if they don't get paid for it, but eventually their satisfaction decreases. Everyone wins when you're getting paid for a job you love to do.