How to Manage the Negotiation Process with Candidates

Many articles are written with the intention of providing tips to job candidates on how to negotiate an offer they receive towards the end of the hiring process. And all these lessons and guides are without a doubt valuable as a Robert Half study found that only 39% of job seekers tried to negotiate their pay with their last job offer. However, to make the hiring process easier for everyone involved, there are also ways to leave all sides happy and avoid the negotiation process with candidates altogether.


1. Avoid Recruiter Bias

A common factor that impacts an employer’s mindset when working with recruiters throughout the hiring process is assuming the recruiter is adding on extra salary as a cushion for the potential candidate.

For example, a recruiter may approach the employer and say that, “Joe is expecting at least $85,000 in base salary.” An employer may sometimes believe the recruiter is trying to get the negotiation done as quickly as possible and, in turn, lower the recruiter’s suggested offer for Joe to $80,000, however that’s often not the case.

The issue with this line of thinking from the employer is that it risks tarnishing the relationship between the candidate and employer. Both sides at this point in the hiring process (after multiple rounds of interviews) want to get started as quickly as possible, but if the negotiation process starts to drag out, bad feelings or negative attitudes can come as a result of the negotiation.


2. Understand the Candidate’s Needs

Understanding the flexibilities and considerations a client or hiring manager has, such as a compensation package, at the beginning of the hiring process ultimately provides a better opportunity to align both sides. Trying to avoid surprises from any hot button issues will smooth out the negotiation process in the long run.

Some examples of hot button topics to keep in mind when understanding the candidate’s needs could be anything from medical coverage to 401k matching to vacation time to really anything that equates to financial aspects of the offer.

Addressing this part of the negotiation process can usually fall into the hands of the recruiter as it’s their job to know what a candidate’s hot buttons are. Emphasizing what the client is looking for can lead to the first offer being the best offer. Elongating this part of the negotiation process could impact any momentum gained between the employer and candidate.


3. Don’t Lose Momentum

According to a CareerBuilder study, over 60% of job seekers don’t finish a job application because the process is too long. This type of situation can also be replicated further down the hiring process during negotiations.

The reality is some negotiations can go on for months and with that comes the loss of any momentum that was gained between the candidate and employer, potentially tarnishing the relationship and excitement built at the beginning of the hiring process.

One solution to avoiding the loss of momentum is to make sure the hiring manager has a clear understanding of their own company’s hiring process. For example, a hiring manager prematurely saying they’ll have an offer ready for the candidate the following Monday could clash with the realistic timeline of when the first offer can be ready. Aspects such as background checks can push back any timeline for sending an initial offer or promising a start date.

While showing enthusiasm for a candidate is always a great sign to all parties involved, confusing potential candidates with wrong information can derail any momentum gained during the hiring process.


4. Make a Verbal Offer

Three numbers to keep in mind before sending an initial offer is understanding what number the candidate wants, what’s their minimum before they walk away, and is there a number in between that a recruiter can potentially verbally accept on their behalf.

Verbally accepting is enough of an intent to get a candidate excited when the conversation about money is had. This verbal offer also gives the recruiter confidence knowing that they have an assurance of what the candidate will ultimately agree to and sign off on.

This key part of the relationship building with the candidate optimizes the chance of getting the candidate to accept and start with the employer.

Overall, the negotiation process with candidates is an expected part of the hiring journey, but being prepped for a candidate’s needs and keeping the process simple will help avoid a long negotiation process that leaves both sides feeling exhausted or unenthusiastic.


For both the hiring manager and candidate, job seeking can be an uncomfortable place to navigate. Keep in mind recruiters are available to help effectively mediate this process and help candidates and hiring managers navigate the negotiation process. As part of their services, recruiters possess the expertise to offer professional interviewing and negotiating assistance as needed.


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