I riffed earlier this week about the unwillingness of some managers to negotiate on what they were willing to pay for a position. I think people ought to enter into pay conversations with some form of flexibility, but if you're not flexible, at least be inflexible based on some relevant factors. Not because you think you've got the power and the individual ought to accept whatever you need to offer.
Here's a bigger question - how do you validate what the candidate says they're making now or have made in the past? The first way to get into that is to ask them what they need from a compensation perspective. That's a softer way to get into the question, and my favorite, low impact way to ask is, "So what's it going to take from a money standpoint to get you to move?".
Other best practice - use your career site to ask for two data points - 1) what the candidate's current salary is, and 2) what the candidate's expected salary is.
So, let's say you ask one or both of those questions face to face, but you're still unsure if the candidate is being totally honest with you. What can you do to verify they made what they say they did?
Ask for the W-2 for the year(s) in question. It's a hardcore tactic, but in going to lunch last week with a VP of Sales candidate, I was reminded why I love recruiting sales pros.
I didn't have an online application from the candidate in question (sourced directly by me!), so I asked the "what's it going to take' question. Like a true sales pro, the candidate in question actually tells me, "Well, I W-2'd $xxx,000 last year.
I laughed - after playing so many games through the years on the compensation front, I forgot for a brief time period how transparent Sales Pro candidates can be. Why the transparency? I think it's because a lot of sales pros, if they have any experience at all, actually expect that the sales manager in question is going to ask them for their W-2.
Welcome to the hardcore recruiting world of recruiting sales pros.. The rest of the candidate pool could probably learn something from that.