5 Mistakes to Sidestep During a Salary Negotiation With a Candidate


If you’re a hiring manager, you may be interested to know that more than six in 10 executives polled in a Robert Half survey said they’re willing to negotiate starting salary.

And no doubt, the best candidates know this. The better the candidate, the more likely you need to be ready for salary negotiation when the time comes. Get a head start by taking a look at these five common mistakes managers make when attempting to close a deal:

1. Being unprepared

Many of today’s savvy job candidates show up at the negotiating table organized, having done their research on how to get what they want. You should be prepared, too. Before you discuss salary, make sure you’ve benchmarked your offerings. Is the position harder to fill than last time you hired? Use resources such as the 2015 Salary Guides from Robert Half as a reference.

2. Agreeing to a salary that’s too high

Not much can kill the spirit of teamwork in your office quite like beginning a new hire at a higher rate than your current staff. While you may think salaries remain secret, eventually they often get out, especially in a small business setting. It’s best to set a maximum amount you’re willing to offer a job candidate so there’s a reasonable degree of internal equity. In case the candidate does reveal his salary, you won’t have to worry about disgruntled coworkers.

3. Thinking it’s all about the money

Salary itself isn’t the only part of the salary negotiation equation. If a job candidate isn’t satisfied with the starting salary, remind him of the intangibles related to the position such as opportunities to learn and grow with the organization and the benefits package. Still not budging? Here are some other perks you might offer:

  • Telecommuting
  • Flexible work hours
  • Opportunities to attend seminars and conferences
  • Discounted gym membership

4. Playing games

Salary negotiation is essentially bargaining: You’re trying to get what you want (a great employee) at the lowest possible cost. A back and forth is inherent in the process, but don’t let it lead to playing games. Respect and be honest with the job candidate and with yourself during salary negotiation.

Always keep in mind your workplace needs and how easy or difficult you believe filling the position will be.

Plus, don’t let factors such as the halo effect — focusing on one positive attribute of a candidate and ignoring everything else — taint your judgment during the process. Sometimes you have to let a great candidate go if you can’t strike a reasonable deal.

5. Getting caught up in the moment

Don't become so engrossed in negotiating that you forget what’s important to your organization. Sometimes, you just have to walk away. If your attempts to woo a reluctant candidate fall short, the best thing to do in many cases is to cut your losses and look somewhere else. The goal at this point should be to end the process so that the candidate leaves with a feeling of being treated fairly and with dignity. Don’t burn the bridge: You never know when your paths may cross again.

What are some other salary negotiation mistakes to avoid? Let us know in the comments section.

Salary Negotiation Tips – What to Do When the Candidate Counters
7 Tips for Salary Negotiation With a Job Candidate
The 2015 Salary Guides Are Here!