How to Talk to Candidates About Their Salary Expectations

One of the essential steps that an employer or a recruiter must perform during the recruitment process is talking about the candidate’s salary expectations. This is a natural step and a discussion of honesty, something that both sides are expecting from each other. Thus, by asking the interviewees what wage are they expecting to receive, those seeking for a new employee will know if the budget will allow them to go ahead with certain candidates in the recruitment process.

Although sometimes it is an uncomfortable question, especially when recruiting for a position with a smaller budget, the answers received from the candidates can become extremely useful. Furthermore, they may be saving time and can help accelerate the recruitment process through the early elimination of those whose salary expectations are beyond what the employer can offer. In this case, if the salary expectation is a criterion for selection, it’s preferable to ask the question since the first discussion, which is usually the one on the telephone.

Refusal, the shortest path to fairness

On the other hand, when we find a person with a promising resume that seems to fit the profile of the ideal candidate, the best for the employer or recruiter would be to launch an invitation to a first interview, accompanied by the question about the salary expectations. If they prove to be too high, honest would be to inform that person that salary he or she wants is pretty high compared to what the company can offer and to ask the candidate if, under these conditions, he is still interested in the interview. Some will say "yes", but others will refuse to go on.

And since we were talking about fairness we should mention that one of the things we don’t recommend is not to tell a person who requested a higher salary that you can’t offer him or her that much. First, when we claim fairness, and we have to offer it, and secondly, we must consider the frustration that the candidate who reached the final stage of recruitment will feel when receiving the employment offer. He will feel that it was a waste of time, and such an attitude can affect, in the long run, the image of "good employer" that a brand has.

Sincere dialogue and careful documentation

One thing that an employer would have to do is to research the market before setting a budget for a particular position. Thus, before beginning the recruitment process, the best would be to carefully check the salaries in the area in which the organization operates, to perform calculations on the average wage for similar positions in the market and then establish a budget. This way, unpleasant situations can be avoided, such as coming up with offers far below the market average.

Another thing that an employer should do is to find out what wages the candidates receive from their current employers so that they won’t be surprised by their salary expectations. Last but not least, something that all recruiters should do is not to undervalue the candidates and not to try to attract overqualified people because they will face too high salary expectations. In fact, the problem does not occur when a candidate asks too little money, but when they ask too much.


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