Excitement is in the air after a successful final round interview for both you and your top candidate. After weeks/months of interviewing you have finally identified the right person! The typical reaction is to drop everything and run over to your HR team to “put through the offer paperwork”. It is important at this stage to take the emotion and excitement out of the equation and focus on taking the necessary logistical steps to guarantee a successful offer acceptance and start. It is critical at this stage in the game to communicate with and understand your candidate’s situation holistically.
Many hiring managers will often avoid discussing an offer directly with the candidate and instead rely on an HR person or an e-mail to extend the offer. While this approach certainly works, it doesn’t work all the time and as the market continues to get better it’s going to work even less.
Understand the candidate’s decision process
Candidates are receiving multiple offers and it is critical to understand where they stand in their decision process. This shouldn’t be taken personally, but instead discussed just like any other business decision.
Who's involved in the decision?
People don’t make decisions in a vacuum and most of the time they are heavily influenced by certain people they trust. Have they talked with their family and/or significant other? Have they mentioned the opportunity to a mentor or anyone else in their inner circle? What are their thoughts?
Are all questions answered?
Do they have all the information they need to make a decision? Don’t assume that benefits have been discussed just because they met with your HR person for a few minutes at the beginning of the process. Double check with them and provide them the information personally. A quick e-mail is a small price to pay to guarantee they show up on their first day.
Know their expectations
Make sure if you are selling your opportunity that you sell to their desires and needs. Do they understand the expectations and opportunities within this position and your organization? Even though a path to management might excite you, it’s not for everyone and you should understand their career goals before making an offer for a position that involves management or other duties they may not be excited about.
Commute and hours
Even though your candidate and you may see eye to eye and everyone loves the idea of working together, they still have to make the drive most days. Have you covered the logistics of actually getting to and from work, schedule, hours, etc? Make sure you find out how long it will take to commute to and from work, if they have done that commute before, and what traffic patterns look like. The last thing you want is for someone to leave in 3-4 months because of a hefty commute.
Setting up the offer
Timing and delivery of extending an offer is the most critical and misunderstood part of the hiring process. A written offer is a necessity but it shouldn’t be sent without talking through the offer first, and sent off as a formality. The real offer should be personal, exciting, motivating for you and the candidate. This person will be working for YOU and a big part of the reason they are taking the job is because of you. Pick up the phone, call them, and simply tell them what you liked about them, why they would be a great fit for the position, and why you are excited for them to join the team.
What to offer
It is important that you put your best foot forward and extend one offer that represents your BEST offer. Be firm and fair with this. If they are paid fair market value at their current job, give them a fair bump in pay (typical is 7-10%) that will show you are putting your best foot forward and get them started with the right mentality. The advantage of this is that you know right away whether this person is going to accept your offer, and they aren’t going to go out shopping it around to try and re-negotiate after the fact. The last thing you want is resentment from a candidate who feels they were offered an unfair wage based on the market and their earnings history.
Time to decide
Once you have extended your offer and notified them that this is the best and only offer they will receive, give them 24-48 hours to think about it. At this point, there is no reason anyone needs more than a full day to think about a job offer. They have no doubt been talking about their job search with friends, family, and mentors for weeks and would have already been thinking about this in detail. Anyone who takes longer than 24-48 hours to accept a job, probably isn’t going to accept it. Think of it this way: If you were to propose to you girlfriend and she said “let me think about that for a couple days...” it would seem that either you rushed to judgment or you’re not getting married anytime soon and maybe you should now try online dating.
Remember: If your offer isn’t accepted, it’s not the end of the world. Not everyone is meant for each other. If you have followed these steps effectively you will have a much higher likelihood of having your offers accepted because you’ll know much earlier in your process that they won’t be accepted and save yourself some time.