How to Negotiate with Potential Employees

Hiring great employees can be difficult and frustrating but it is also one of the most important activities in any business because a business is its people.

Having great employees can make the difference between a successful and unsuccessful business over the long term.

However, one of the most difficult and frustrating parts for an employer and a candidate is the negotiation process. At the same time, the negotiation process is critically important because if done poorly, a candidate may start off dissatisfied or even turn down the job offer, both of which are bad for business.

This article will provide some tips on how to approach negotiations with a candidate so that both parties leave satisfied and ready to start their professional relationship.

Start with a Fair Offer Letter

Although it may seem like a good idea to “low ball” an applicant with your initial offer letter, if it is too low or even insulting, a candidate may walk away.

Start with a figure comparable to the industry average for the position you’re hiring for and adjust for any perks or benefits an employee might receive and their level of experience.

Starting with a fair offer can go a long way toward ensuring that both employer and candidate are satisfied.  During the negotiation, you can then explain to the candidate why the offer is fair, and your reasoning.


Walking into the salary negotiation you should have an idea of the range of salaries for a similar position and what your company is comfortable paying.

With that being said, always listen to what a candidate has to say rather than just stick steadfastly with a specific number.

The candidate may bring up a worthwhile reason why they deserve higher compensation.

Furthermore, even if you don’t agree on higher compensation, you want your new employee to feel respected and listened to so that the relationship starts off on the right foot.

Find the Win-Win

As cliche as it sounds, find the win-win.

If a candidate is persistent about getting a higher salary (and worth it) but your company doesn’t have the budget for it, consider seeing if adding perks like vacation time, the ability to work from home, job titles, education, or gym memberships can sweeten the pot.

Often, these other forms of compensation are more valuable to candidates than money.

Do it in Person

Although it may be tempting and less stressful to simply do the negotiation over email, this is a risky method.

You risk having your tone misinterpreted and won’t be able to get the same amount of information as doing the negotiation in person or if impossible, over the phone.

If you’re unsure during an in-person interview, you can always hear the candidate out and ask for some time to think about it.

Walk Away

Although it’s important to listen and negotiate with a candidate and it can be tempting to just hire someone instead of starting the whole process over again.

However, if a candidate is so persistent that you can’t hire them at a reasonable price for their experience and the position, walk away.

You don’t want to spend too much of your valuable budget on one person when there are cheaper alternatives and you don’t want to alienate your current employees by overpaying for someone new.


Negotiating with a candidate can make the difference between starting off on the right foot with a new employee or having a promising candidate walk away.

The most important thing is to prepare, listen carefully and try to find a fair compromise where both parties walk away happy.

I hope this guide helps you with your next negotiation!

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About the author:

Will Zimmerman is a content marketer for Proven. He is from Boulder, Colorado and when not writing awesome content, he enjoys all things outdoors including but certainly not limited to skiing, camping, hiking, and surfing.

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