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Editorial Team
06 Jul 2018



The Art of Offering a Job: Diving inside the Psyche of a Candidate

HR Professional

Balancing the scale between job seekers and HR  

This article speaks from two different contexts and would traverse the two sides of the balance: the HR and the job-aspirants. We try understanding what goes on a candidate’s mind and how to negotiate it better as a human resources management practitioner.    

  • Profile 1: An example of due diligence and active trade-offs. 

Prospective Candidate: Alice. She has good skills and experience.  

Position: Project Manager 

Company: Umbrella Corporation 

Alice is sure about what she wants from the new job offered to her. She is tactical, intuitive, and comes with good negotiation skills. She asked a lot of questions about a higher salary package, paid time-off, and bonus.   

The company complied with salary and bonus points and told her paid time-off in certain circumstances wasn’t negotiable. She took the job.   

  • Profile 2: An example of lost opportunity and failed negotiation.   

Prospective Candidate: Andrea Sachs. She has good skills and experience. 

Position: Co-assistant 

Company: Runway Magazine 

Andrea is smart. She did a little calculation and researched online for publicly available information about the company on Indeed, Glassdoor,, and Ladders to check for a market average for allowances and flexible schedules. She knew in order to fulfill the shoes she has to abide by the company rules and the company wouldn’t oblige by keeping her best interests on top of its priority.  

She jots down a list of priorities in a decreasing order from top to bottom. She is a wanderlust person and wants more vacation time. She is also concerned about paid overtime. 

The company cleared the airs about overtime being there on ‘pressure-days’ but couldn’t come clean on paid overtime and related issues. She quit the job-offer. 



Job negotiation is a completely different animal when you are an HR professional and a prospective job candidate. It’s good to remember- an HR professional was a job seeker and will be, even though the vice-versa doesn’t hold true. When you understand yourself as a job seeker, it’s helpful in understanding other job seekers when you are on the other side of the table. Because human behavior is universal. 

Drawing from the best experiences and the worst you have had while applying for positions, you could, consequently, add an apparent appreciation of human psychology and emotions to your negotiation skills and people intelligence. You are better able to make sense of how a particular stance, offering, or negotiation altered the neurotransmitters to feel a strong positive or negative reaction in a negotiation process.  

Deep into the mind of a job aspirant: 

People stay put at a company to build their stability, experience, and proficiencies. After they have gained enough, they are in a position to claim more for what they do. There are opportunities pouring in from competitors of their companies to switch at a higher pay. What do they do as individuals fully operated by self-interest and ambitions? 

Job-offer negotiations are stressful times. But job aspirants understand that if they have been offered a job, it means something. In the words of John Lees, author of The Success Code, recruiters only offer a job when they have fallen in love with a candidate and smitten with his/her skills-spectrum. In such a scenario, candidates have the leverage to expand themselves as there is room for more.  

Capturing negotiation dynamics:     

Situation 1: The candidate has mentioned his/her expectations. If you and the candidate are on the same page, then it’s absolutely fine. But if there is a gaping gap between expectations and reality, negotiation is what the game called.  

How to deal: You must be ready to fight to keep a candidate if the repertoire of skills is highly demanded by your company. Of course, you try to negotiate. But if a candidate would rather let you go than accept your salary deal, then relenting is nothing but a good choice. 

Situation 2: A job aspirant researches online and asks his professional network. Reviews by earlier employees on different platforms say a lot about the employee experience in a company.  

How to deal: Check what they are ready to agree to. Flexibility and adaptability of a candidate must be weighed against the company requirement

Situation 3: If a candidate accepts what is served to him/her, they come as wanting and desperate. If they don’t negotiate- they come as someone ready to switch ASAP. 

How to deal: If you relent too much, it will give them the leeway. Salary is something which is negotiable. And negotiation didn’t kill anyone. If you push it hard to avoid giving in, you might rub people the wrong way and lose out on a great candidate. Measure your choices well. 

Situation 4: A candidate will explain the kind of skill spectrum s/he has and what the market is offering or could offer her/him somewhere else.  

How to deal: A hard nut to crack, it seems. If the justification seems fair, it’s only a legitimate option to hire the candidate. If a candidate asks a lot of questions or seems dicey and suspicious, you know where it is all going and you need to take action for a lack of commitment. If a candidate is worth more than the salary being offered, talk to managers and see if the salary cap can be extended a little to give candidate enough tailwind.   

Situation 5: A job aspirant today doesn’t consider an offer from only the salary perspective. When a job is negotiated it involves culture, employee experience, time-offs, paid vacations, telecommuting, flexible timings, work from home, over time, and training and development initiatives. Little add-ons do matter a lot to a lot of employees. 

How to deal: There are some employees who are ready to work at, let’s say, $5000 which includes work at international destinations, paid vacations, bonus for good work, and a lot of projects including complete authority. Gauge candidates on where and how much they are willing to bend. Some might work for $6000 but can do without all other benefits. Heed to what they say as to how they deserve the salary they have quoted for themselves. 

Situation 6: Candidates today are prepared for questions pertaining to uncomfortable terrains like “Do you have other offers?” and “Would you accept the offer, if we offer the salary you have quoted?” 

How to deal: Expose a candidate’s weaknesses by posing uncomfortable questions. Make them defensive and reluctant and see what comes out of it. Hesitancy and a change in behavioral patterns can signify whether or not a candidate is taking your offer seriously.           


A corollary: Tips for HR to offer a job with effective negotiation and communication. 

  • Be succinct. Reiterate on the salary, benefits, position, name of supervisor, and employment terms and conditions. Communicate the same in the job ad, salary negotiation, offer-letter, and orientation.  

  • During the process of salary reviews, produce statements of total compensation including those benefits which showcase financial and social security. 

  • Have app-based software to elaborate thoroughly the offerings in case a candidate might want to check again. 

  • Offer-letter must be specific about when the benefits are likely to go into effect and about the waiting periodif any. 

  • Have people ready- from a team member to an insurance agent to yourself- to answer queries from candidates in case they have doubts. 

You, as an HR professional, are not the company. But also companies aren’t there in the interview room negotiating. The profit percentage margin hinges less on negotiating with a candidate for what you want and more on the right candidate for a vacancy.  

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