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by Eileen Levitt, president of The HR Team | March 10, 2009


Question:In employment negotiations, is it fact or fiction that employees will always bid high while employers usually bid low?

Answer:If you think about it, such a statement basically violates every negotiation principle that will get you a long-term employee, a process quite different than buying a car. Here are some good rules for negotiating with prospective employees:

  1. Do your homework. Look at what other companies are paying. Go onto job posting sites, monster, vault, and see what your competitors are offering. Also, go to and for detailed salary information.
  2. Know what your alternatives are. Do you have alternatives? Can you hire others with similar backgrounds? Can the job be modified? Can you shift responsibilities to others?
  3. Think interests, not positions. Don't get stuck on principles that may or may not make sense, you need to be flexible!
  4. Create mutually beneficial situations. How can you come to a win-win solution?
  5. Separate person from problem. Look at what you are negotiating and understand why.
  6. Insist on objective measures. Be careful not to fall into a trap of "I like this person, so I will do this..."

Question:When a prospective employee asks for a concession such as flextime, what is an appropriate response?

Answer:This answer depends on your organization. Does your corporate environment support such flexibility? Has flextime been requested by current employees and been denied? With concessions such as flextime, you don't want to risk losing current staff by trying to accommodate a potential employee. You also want to be careful before hastily setting a precedent that will come back to haunt you later. The time when you are hiring a candidate may not be best time to make policy decisions that you will have to live with for a long time. You really need to look at the total picture and evaluate the pros and cons of what such a change can mean to your organization in both the short-term and the long-term.

Question:If a candidate claims that he or she makes a specific salary at his or her current job, and I discover that the statement was false, do I confront the candidate on the issue?

Answer:Yes, tactfully address the issue head on. Sometimes there are legitimate reasons for a difference between a figure put on an application and that provided when you do your research. Say to the applicant, "We verified the compensation figure you stated on your application and there appears to be a difference. Can you explain?" After considering the explanation, then decide if you want to continue pursuing the candidate. If he or she has lied, drop the candidate!

Question:The old school of thought was to wear an emotionless "mask" when negotiating with candidates. Is that still the best course of action?

Answer:No. Be yourself. You need to show the prospect the human side of the organization and that you are listening to their input.

Question:When someone comes to me and says that he or she is worth more than I'm offering based on hard research such as regional salary surveys, do I ignore them and stick to my offer?

Answer: No. Always be open-minded, but certainly know your budget. Also, remember that different areas of the country will be higher or lower due to cost of living than the national averages. Try to look at city specific reports like those on or to ensure you are making a fair offer.


Filed Under: Salary & Benefits

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