We all face the same dilemma when hiring employees. The question of how much they are worth to us is always on the table.
You never know how much a person really knows or what they are capable of until they are actually in the shop and you can evaluate their level of ability. But getting them on the shop floor means agreeing on wages, benefits, scheduling, etc. These decisions often have to be made more or less on spec. You are able to get a sense of the person by conducting interviews and looking at resumes. Sometimes, you can get input from previous employers. But the accuracy of that information remains in question until you can actually see the person in action.
I have learned that you have to be very careful how you set things up. You can say, “Let’s start you off at this amount and then, after a couple of weeks, if you are working out, we’ll bump you up.” But this can be a bit of a trap because the person is going to expect to get a raise after a couple of weeks and you may have determined by then that he is not really worth one. Explaining why he is not worth the increase is a delicate task at best.
I no longer agree to specific increases. If a person demonstrates a high level of competence and a solid work ethic, a modest raise is a worthwhile investment. Without a promise, you have a much better option to make adjustments.