I have received a number of questions and comments about a misconception many job seekers have regarding two key recruitment questions: salary expectations, and availability to start.
There is a great deal of literature out there to suggest that these questions are key indicators that a company is interested in hiring you. For the most part, I would agree. The one caveat to this, however, is timing. When asked about your salary expectations and availability to start during a 2nd or 3rd round of interviews, it could be a good sign that the organization is seriously considering you as a potential hire. That said, if a recruiter asks you these questions during an initial telephone interview, the recruiter is merely gathering information.
The important thing to remember is that there is no hidden meaning behind the recruiter question during your initial telephone conversation, and recruiters don’t intend to mislead. That said, it is helpful if job seekers recognize the purpose of the initial recruiter telephone conversation. In the wonderful world of recruitment, this is considered a pre-screen stage wherein recruiters are gathering information to help the company decide on which candidate(s) they wish to invite in for an in-person interview.
As someone who has been in recruitment for nearly 20 years, I found this question to be a great reminder that recruiters should endeavour to make it clear to candidates the intention of their pre-screen questions. We recruiters may think that it goes without saying, but it actually doesn’t. Being clear about your intentions will help to manage candidate expectations, and in the long run, will make your job that much easier.
Another term I hear job seekers use to describe job opportunities they are presented is “job offer.” Technically speaking, a job offer (in the recruitment world) means an offer of employment or an employment contract. The job conversations that recruiters have with job seekers are job opportunities. I realize that this may seem like fussy semantics, but there is a difference. For example, a recruiter may ask you if you are considering other options. If you respond by saying that ABC company has approached you about a job offer, the recruiter may think that you have (or are expecting to have) a job offer in hand. As such, the recruiter may well decide that you are soon to be off the market and choose to invite someone else to an in-person interview.
As a result, it is important that both job seekers and recruiters are clear in the language we use and intentions of our questions to ensure the most effective communication. As we all know, communication is key in building strong relationships!