This is what I hear from candidates who are reporting to me about their interview. This quote usually follows them saying something like, “Well, when we were discussing money I told them what I was looking for…. and they didn’t bat an eye.” This is what happens to candidates when they say something really stupid about the money they’re looking for. Ninety nine out of 100 times a candidate knows how much a company wants to pay for a particular job. This is especially true if we refer them to the situation. And still candidates will overplay their hand, thinking they can get away with it because they’re so damn good.
It happened twice this week to two of my candidates. I told the first candidate that the company wanted to pay a base salary of $100,000 and they were very insistent that they didn’t want to go over that amount. I sent them four candidates and told every candidate the same thing. The first “screening interview” was with someone in the HR department. First of all, people in the HR department don’t have control over budgets. They are told by managers or hiring authorities what the company wants to pay. They don’t know what flexibility with the salary may or may not be. Managing authorities do, but HR, especially HR screeners, don’t. I explained that to all of the candidates. The guy who probably had the best shot at the opportunity has a big head and told the HR screener that he was already making $100,000 base salary and he would not move for less than $120,000 base salary. I specifically told him to not discuss this with the lady in HR. Obviously I don’t have influence or control and maybe I’m just a really lousy recruiter, because the candidate reported when he called me after the interview that when he mentioned the money to her, “she didn’t bat an eye.” No, she didn’t bat an eye. She just eliminated him and moved on in the interviewing process. The three other people are all moving on because they all stated that they understood the base salary. Now, they may very well negotiate for more, but they’re going to do it with the person who really has influence and control, the hiring authority.
Unfortunately, this candidate got himself eliminated because he was “coloring outside the lines” of what the HR screener was told to live within. She asked everybody to same 10 questions and passed along to the hiring authority the people that she thought “colored within the lines.”
I don’t have a problem if the candidate doesn’t get a job offer or turns an offer down if that’s what’s best for them. I don’t have a problem when the hiring authority eliminates a candidate for whatever reasons they wish. But for goodness sake, there’s no good reason that a candidate should say something this stupid and get eliminated before he even gets to the real ballgame.
Of course, when I told the candidate that he got himself eliminated because he told them he wanted the base of $120,000, he mumbled some comment like, “Wow, that’s what I’m worth.” Well, that may be what he thinks he’s worth, and I’d be more than happy to get him $140,000 base, but it ain’t gonna happen with this client. He shot himself in the foot before he even got to first base. Why? Ego! If he was worth $120,000 he was selling that value to the wrong person. The lady in HR doesn’t have any control over the salary. Why would someone even say something like this when I warned him that the company said they had a limit of $100,000 base salary? “But it was going so well,” he said. Well, he thought it was going well, but he got eliminated. Lesson: don’t even consider talking about money with anyone other than someone who can actually make the decision. And even then it has to be done very carefully.
The second situation came when my candidate had at least sense enough to wait until he got to the real decision-maker. But, unfortunately, he went about it the wrong way. He got to the final interview and instead of waiting until he was sure that he was going to get an offer, in the very beginning of the interview, according to the hiring authority, he said something like, “I want you to get something straight, I’m only going to consider leaving where I’m at for a $20,000 raise in what I’m making. I went to work for the organization I’m with now in the middle of a pandemic and I took a cut when they did and I need to make it up!” END of INTERVIEW! And the candidate summed up the interview when he called me after it by saying, “He didn’t bat an eye.” Right, he just eliminated you and didn’t bat an eye doing it.
The problem that usually elicits a, “they didn’t bat an eye” description is one of timing more than anything else. It has equally to do with the way in which someone communicates their (seemingly) desires. Obviously, neither one of these people did it the right way.
There is a way of negotiating that’s foolproof, but these two candidates didn’t pay attention. You can find the way to do that at
Never believe what you see when, “They didn’t bat an eye!”