Managing Expectations


Straight Answers to Real Questions

Question: I’m the Controller for a Canadian, TSX listed, software company up in Markham. I’ve been recruiting for a Manager of Financial Reporting and we’re at the offer stage with one of the candidates that we’ve been interviewing. When we started interviewing this person (let’s call him Steve), we told him that the salary range for this position was $100,000 to $110,000 plus a bonus of up to 10%.

We put Steve through three interviews and throughout the process Steve has indicated that he’s very interested in our position. Steve is currently making $90,000 plus bonus with his current employer, so we offered him a salary of $100,000.

We assumed that Steve would be very happy with this offer but to our surprise he informed us that we wanted at least $105,000 or he was thinking of turning the offer down. Although Steve is qualified for this position, he is on the junior side of what we were looking for and we think $100,000 is a fair offer. What do you think we should do?

Answer: You can still salvage this situation but it would have been a whole lot easier on both parties if you had specifically addressed salary expectations earlier in the process. First of all, you need to know that if you tell someone that a position pays up to x dollars, that’s the number that stays with them, the lower number of the range doesn’t really register with them. So in your situation, Steve assumed that since you were willing pay up to $110,000, that you were willing to pay him up to $110,000. That being the case, it’s kind of understandable that he was disappointed with your offer of $100,000.

If Steve came into the process knowing that your salary range was $100,000 to $110,000, you should have explained to him that while he may be qualified for the position, in terms of experience he was on the low end of your range and ask him up front if he would be happy to interview for the position if it paid $100,000. Assuming he says yes, then as he goes through the process, keep taking checking in with him as to his interest level and compensation expectations. By the time you get to the offer stage, you and he should be on the same page and there should be no surprises for either party.

What you should do now is to meet with Steve again and have the discussion you should had at the beginning of the interview cycle. Explain that as much as you want to hire him, in order for you to pay more than $100,000, Steve would have quite a bit more experience in order to justify it. You may also point out that paying someone with Steve’s experience $105,000 would put him out of parity with other people in your organization who are at a similar level of experience and qualifications.

If you think you may be in the market for top financial talent in the next few months, call me direct or email me, for a no obligation consultation.

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