You make how much??

I was speaking with a group of HR folks last week, and the subject of candidate questions (when interviewing) came up. Someone said, “I only ask how much money the candidate wants, not how much they have made. That’s all that matters to me.” Many others agreed.

Say what??? That ranks up there as one of the more ridiculous comments we can make. To enter into a relationship with a potential employee with no idea how much money they are accustomed to making is nearly pure negligence.

First, let’s get something straight: Money matters. Money always matters. It may not be the only thing, but it always, always, matters. Zig Ziglar said it best: “Anyone that says ‘money doesn’t matter…’ well, they’ll lie about other things as well.”

There are a million reasons why simply asking for a desired number is a dumb way to ascertain wage needs. I’ll just rattle off a few randomly, in no particular order.

The candidate heard you paid well. So, they ask for more money than they normally would, hoping for some of that largesse. Oops, priced out of your range, candidate rejected.

The candidate heard you didn’t pay well. But they need a job to pay bills today, so they’ll use your underpaying position as leverage for that better job 3 months from now. Lost another one…

The candidate didn’t understand the role as was described. Lucky you — she underbid it, and you got something for nothing. You are one smart cookie… wait a minute, whaddya mean ‘you’re leaving??’ I gave you what you asked for!!

These (above) are some of the more common, intangible reasons for determining current/recent/accustomed compensation. Want something a bit more logic-based?? Ok, how’s this…

The number one — primo, primera, ultimate, top — source for market-based salary information and data is what organziations today are paying for that position in the marketplace. In other words, you should be constantly gauging and comparing your compensation ranges internally to those in the market in which you compete.

This isn’t rocket science, folks. Candidates expect to be asked, you have a duty to know, and there’s no reason not to… ask the question.

The smart money says you’ll be better for it.


Kevin Berchelmann

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