It is interesting how much stress there can be over the salary discussion in the interview process. If you ask me, it is the one question that should be easy to answer because it is factual. The recruiter should ask, “How much do you make?” And the candidate can answer with a number. Easy, right?
When we are socializing or networking we don’t talk about money. We are very comfortable asking someone what they do for a living, but we would never say, “Wow, that sounds interesting. What do you get paid for that?”.
But an interview is not a social situation. It is perfectly acceptable to talk about salary history and expectations.
The recruiter should ask, in the first interview, for the candidate’s current compensation and the candidate should give a direct answer. This first interview is typically a qualifying interview and the goal is to see if the candidate meets the baseline requirements. Gathering salary information is just one of the data points.
It is perfectly acceptable for the candidate to qualify their response by saying that they are flexible or that they feel they are paid below market, but they do have to respond with a number. Otherwise, the simple question becomes a prolonged conversation. The recruiter may feel like the candidate is hiding something, which leads to more questions, which may result in the candidate feeling like they are being interrogated.
It is the recruiter’s responsibility to make the candidate comfortable and explain that the salary information is needed to be sure that both parties are in the same range. If the candidate is hesitant, the recruiter can ask, “What would you like to make?” Once that question is answered the recruiter should follow up with, “Is that how much you are making now?”
The recruiter should let the candidate know if he/she is within the compensation range. If the candidate is making more than the desired range, the recruiter should ask how flexible the candidate can be and the reason for that flexibility. Many candidates are willing to take a pay cut for a shorter commute or less travel.
The interview process can be very stressful for candidates. Recruiters can and should help alleviate that stress. Both parties should ask and answer questions directly and provide explanations where necessary. Easy, right?