Dear Hiring Managers: Don’t Hand Over Power to Your Top Candidate

There is a fine line between getting candidates excited for a potential offer and giving them too much leverage.

Hiring Manager Tips: Negotiation with Top Candidates Effectively Starts with the First InterviewSay that you are the candidate interviewing for a position. Imagine that the process has been moving smoothly and you are becoming increasingly excited about the prospect of starting in the new role. The more you learn about the company, the more you can see yourself fitting into the culture.
Not only are you coming up with these thoughts on your own, but the hiring manager you have been interviewing with keeps reinforcing your thinking by emphasizing what a perfect fit you are for the position and how your background is exactly what they have been looking for. The manager even goes on to explain that you are the sole person in process since the other candidates fell short of your qualifications.
As soon as you hear that you are the only person being considered for the role you feel as though you might have some negotiating power when it comes to offer stages — and that’s usually true!

Hiring Manager Tip: Negotiating with Top Candidates Effectively Starts with the First Interview

As a hiring manager, you need to be aware that letting a candidate know he or she is the top (or only) person in the running will give that candidate the bargaining power. This can be leverage you do not want to give up to the candidate — sometimes it can even lead to the candidate raising his or her compensation expectations to an unreasonable level, or at least outside of the range approved for the position.
Of course, you also do not want to make the mistake of making a top candidate feel like he or she isn’t being considered very highly. This can provoke a candidate to not rank the opportunity highly and possibly seek out other opportunities ahead of yours.
From the position of hiring manager, make sure to have full reigns of the process from beginning to end. Try not to make the process too transparent, but also let top candidates know they are being very highly considered (among others as well).
This way, when you get to that offer stage, you haven’t made it clear you’re putting all of your eggs in one basket, giving full power of negotiation into the hands of the candidate.
Better yet, if you do find that “perfect” top candidate, keep searching and interviewing others who can be considered backup candidates should an offer end up falling through.

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