“What’s the salary range for this position? You won't tell me the top amount they're willing to offer?”
I've been doing this for a very long time, here is the reality of the scenario. Some companies have very specific ranges. Some companies have a rough idea. Some companies simply let the market tell them what they should be paying for a job. Some companies ask me to help them arrive at a fair range. Some companies will flex to a degree on what they are targeting for the hire. So as you can see there are numerous scenarios. No two situations are exactly the same.
It always depends on a person’s experience and how directly applicable it is to a company’s needs. Is the person more junior in experience? Is the person more senior in experience? How does the person’s experience compare to other people already on staff? And how is internal equity kept in line?
So there is never a real easy answer as there are so many variables. In the many years of doing this, my opinion of the best approach is to be certain that a company’s ideal number for the hire and a candidate’s ideal number on what they’d expect are in line. Do they have to be spot on? No. Sometimes there is flexibility on the company’s end, sometimes there is flexibility on the candidate’s end. Sometimes if the company feels the candidate is the person they want and the candidate feels that this is the opportunity for them there are creative ways of bridging possible gaps as well.
Last but not least, it is human tendency to always gravitate towards the top of a stated salary range. It never fails. The moment a range is thrown out in conversation the candidate will gravitate towards the top number. Right or wrong, consciously or unconsciously, I've seen it happen time and time again where a recruiter will tell a candidate a range, $65,000 to $80,000 for example, and when the offer comes and it is at $70,000 the candidate protests, “Hey Mr. Recruiter, you told me the job paid $80,000!”
The best way to avoid this, just be certain the candidate’s expectations and the company’s expectations fall within the “okay place.”
The bottom line: If I do my job correctly and all parties are forthcoming with information, then the hiring manager has an idea where they want to hire in, and the candidate has an expectation of where they need to be. Based on what I know from the candidate and from the hiring manager, if the situation were to move in a positive direction the candidate’s expectation will be met.