How to Negotiate Salary with a Candidate

How to negotiate salary

Candidates are within their right to negotiate after being presented with a job offer, and it’s usually an expected part of the hiring process. That’s why salary negotiation should include careful planning and strategy.

In the event that a candidate wants to negotiate, consider employing the following strategies:

Reassure candidates that you’re their advocate.

  • Candidates often withhold information — about their expectations or about other offers — out of fear that you’ll somehow use it against them.
  • Be open and honest with the candidate by stressing how your top objective is to give them the best possible offer so they’ll accept and be happy to stay in their new role for a long time.

Show the candidate how your company culture supports their life.

  • Reintroduce the added value of your company culture.
  • Employees spend a vast amount of their time at work and they want to be at a place that aligns with their values and preferences. Can they bring their dog to the office? Is childcare offered? Is the workplace inclusive?
  • Share your culture upfront to help the candidate see the holistic value of your company as an employer.

Research market salary to establish a fair salary range.

  • Conduct research on market salary to create a lower and upper boundary for this position and stick to it.

Understand what’s important to your candidate.

  • During the interview process, try to discover what the candidate cares most deeply about (e.g., having flexibility to work from home might be worth more to this candidate than a bump in base salary).

Consider other benefits besides cash.

  • If you can’t match a candidate’s salary request, try to sweeten the deal with benefits or perks.

Explore compensation alternatives.

  • Instead of focusing on the base salary, discuss adding other types of compensation like a signing bonus, performance bonuses, a pension, or stock options.

Mention career advancement.

  • If the candidate’s compensation requirements are higher that the role allows, discuss the potential realistic compensation of the role to give the candidate a more long-term view.
  • Let them know that even though their first year may not align, many employees reach higher compensation in their second year.

Know when to walk away.

  • If a candidate becomes overly aggressive, evasive, or difficult to reach, consider thanking them for their time and moving on.
  • When deciding what to do, weigh both the value they would bring to the business and if there are other available candidates with a similar skill set.

Common mistakes when negotiating with a candidate, and how to avoid them

Negotiating an offer with a candidate is not about winning — it’s about reaching a salary agreement that meets your business objectives and makes the candidate feel valued and appropriately compensated. Below is a list of what NOT TO DO in the event you have to negotiate with a candidate:

Don’t trash talk other companies…

  • If a candidate is interviewing at your company and a competing organization, it’s important to focus on what your company brings to the table and ground your conversation in facts.
  • It’s OK to compare your benefits package to theirs, for example, but bringing up rumors about other companies that you’ve heard secondhand or read on sites like Glassdoor is tacky.

Don’t be aggressive or impatient…

  • A lot of the time candidates just need to understand the offer.
  • If they seem a little hesitant, let them think on it overnight or offer them a couple days to get back to you.
  • Try to support them through the process and let them know they can come to you if they have questions.

Don’t ignore biases…

  • When negotiating with a job candidate, understand that bias, whether deliberate or unconscious, can influence your decisions.
  • For instance, women often pay a penalty when they negotiate and are more likely to receive feedback that they are “intimidating,” “too aggressive,” or “bossy.”
  • When negotiating with a candidate, always take a step back and think about your biases.