How do you handle candidates who refuse to disclose their compensation information?

Personally, I found that most people were willing to provide their salary information, but once in a while, I came across someone who wouldn't.  If they didn't disclose this to me, I usually moved on, and eliminated them from contention.


How do you handle these situations?

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By "candidate" I'm going to assume you mean someone who is open to moving forward with you.  Not the people we bump into for a quick "skill set/role/interest level" conversation.


I consider myself to be in the same "professional" league as an accountant, lawyer, doctor - you name it.  I take my work seriously.  This is not a game of hide and seek.


Can you imagine what your doctor would say if you wouldn't tell him all the symptoms of your ailments?  "Well Doc - I've told you enough already.  If you need to know "that" - you'll have to guess."  Just imagine the look on his (or her) face! 


When someone won't tell me their salary (and I only ask once we're quite deep into the conversation) I do make an attempt to find out why.  More often than not they'll open up a bit.  I hear reasons such as "I don't want them to just make an offer based on my current salary.  I took a big cut to come here - there weren't any jobs at my level back then." or something similar.


It's then up to as to "consult" with them on how to address whatever issue it may be.


If they won't tell me I keep moving on.

I do what you do.  Since 95% of my interviews are in person, I look them straight in the eye, tell them I am a professional and ask again.  If they refuse, as some do, I terminate the interview.  That brings almost all of them around.  I once had someone who looked at me and said, "If you are so good, tell me what I am making."  I terminated that interview on the spot.  People can be weird. 

Hi John-

        It's always interesting when a candidate comes forth with this reticence to share current compensation. I first remind them that everything I do for them and my client is done in all confidentiality, and the client has an expectation I can share a current salary/bonus level. And candidly without that information for my client...we're not going further in the process! And now it's their choice...reminding them again no recruiter can do their job without candor and trust from the candidate. Without those things the process isn't going to work! Over the years I've found very few who won't share the data.


Although we can probably guess the candidate's salary range, but I wonder what else is the candidate hiding?

I recently placed a candidate who held off on revealing his salary until his onsite interview was done - I knew the range of his salary however (within 5-8K - he was making $88K). It felt quite uncomfortable and I wouldn't want to deal with such a situation on any regular basis...

Disclosure of their situation - including compensation is the price of admission to my dance of representation.

Sometimes if I am in an especially expansive mood I will explain how granularity in regards to compensation can actually get them a better offer.  I don't just stop at what is your salary - oh no.  I want to know salary, flexible component, how it is based how often it is paid what they made last year what they are on track to make this year, how much vacation and what is on the table to be lost if they get an offer and take it.

They give it to me, too.

Because I explain the more I know about their situation and what motivates them the better I can serve them.  Then I make it clear that any offer (if we get to that point) depends not on range of the position (i have struck that phrase from my lexicon) but how well they interview.

I am demanding, man.  But - more work up front less headaches later on.

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