Whether a person will accept a job offer, reject it, or back out later should never come as a surprise. Any surprise factor can be avoided as long as you follow some fundamental recruiting techniques.
The most important: Never make an offer you’re not absolutely sure will be accepted.
Underlying this rule is the need to test every component of an offer to determine if the candidate will accept it before formalizing the offer in writing.
Testing can be as simple as asking the candidate if he/she would accept a fair offer and be able to start by a certain date. Any evasiveness is a clue the offer won’t be accepted.
A more formal approach to testing involves getting “yes” answers to the ten following questions. It’s important to note that getting a “no” is not a bad thing. Converting the “no” into a “yes” is called recruiting.
1. Would you be open to exploring a new opportunity if it were clearly superior to what you’re doing today?
This is a great starting point. With this first “yes” in hand, don’t sell the job; instead sell a discussion about a potential career move. This includes a quick review of the person’s LinkedIn profile and a summary defining why the job could be a good career move. I call this the 30% Solution: a non-monetary increase consisting of the combination of a bigger job, faster growth, greater impact, and more satisfying work for the candidate.
2. Would you be willing to have an exploratory call with the hiring manager if the job only offers a modest comp increase offset by a far better career trajectory?
This is a good question to ask after the recruiter has conducted an in-depth phone screen. By taking money off the table it establishes career growth as the reason to move forward, not compensation. It also gets the hiring manager involved early in the recruiting process.
3. Based on what you now know, do you want to become a serious contender for this role?
Only invite serious candidates for onsite interviews. Restate the growth over compensation condition as part of getting this agreement.
4. Is this role better than the other opportunities you’re now evaluating?
Before considering the person a finalist, find out how your job compares to everything else the person is contemplating. If your job is not #1 find out why and adjust accordingly if possible.
5. We’re thinking of a start date of ______. If you were to get an offer this week, would this be possible for you?
Candidates who are serious about your role begin thinking about a start date soon after the first round of onsite interviews. Lack of details about a possible start date indicates lack of interest.
6. Forget the money. Do you really want this job?
A few days before finalizing the offer have the candidate tell you why he/she wants the job without money being a consideration. Don’t make the offer if the person can’t describe the 30% Solution in overwhelming detail.
7. Have you planned out your resignation process in detail?
If the candidate can’t describe exactly how he/she will resign, then he/she is not planning on resigning. Ask this when you’re scheduling the timing of the offer letter.
8. Are you willing to give verbal acceptance of this offer based on the terms we’ve discussed?
As long as all of the terms have been discussed and agreed upon there is no reason the person should hesitate giving a verbal commitment and an official acceptance within 24 hours. Be concerned if the person is evasive or wants a delay. You need to uncover and resolve any concerns before proceeding.
9. If we meet your requirements, can you commit 100% to our revised offer?
Frequently candidates will want more money before making any commitment to accept an offer. Tell the person you won’t even try to improve the comp package unless he/she commits to accept the improved offer if it can be approved at the new level. Give the person time to ponder the importance of this decision.
10. Are you willing to tell everyone at your company your decision is final, and you won’t consider a counter-offer?
Build this condition into the negotiation for more money. Don’t agree to even make an attempt to increase the comp package without this agreement.
Changing jobs is a critical decision, but too often candidates overvalue the compensation package rather than the career opportunity. The “go slow” testing process described here ensures the candidate accepts or rejects your offer for the right career reasons, not for the size of the compensation package, the title, or the location of the job.
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