Recruiting successfully is not easy. It can be time consuming, expensive, emotional, distracting from core business activities and ultimately hard work. So imagine after weeks and weeks of searching, screening, calls, correspondence, interviews, follow-ups and difficult decision making, you finally decide to offer your preferred candidate. You’re excited and relieved. A decision has finally been made. You ring, make the offer, send out the paperwork and wait. 24 hours, 48 hours – why haven’t you heard? Where is their signed contract?
It is that moment when your candidate – the one that was meant to be starting in 4 weeks, calls (or worse sends an email or text) to say they are declining your offer. What? Where did it go wrong? It is an extremely frustrating situation as suddenly you’re back at the start of the process after months of hard work. Now it’s time to back track, re-advertise or maybe try to re-engage the rejected short list. How can you best avoid this situation altogether and increase your chances of an offer acceptance?
1. Employer value proposition – are you easily able to articulate why your company and this opportunity may appeal to potential candidates? Be clear on what the selling points are; describe the culture, career paths and opportunities. Explain what top performance looks like and give examples of the values that people abide by. Competition for talent is always going to be there, no matter what the market conditions are, so make sure you can articulate your culture in an honest and compelling way.
2. Counter offer investigation – from the very first interview, check reasons for leaving their current employment. Don’t ask only once, try two or three times throughout the interview to ensure you are getting the REAL reason for leaving. Are they fishing in the market for a higher salary to take to their boss to get their own pay increase? Also look for patterns of behaviour – you will often find that people consistently leave positions for similar reasons, so make sure your opportunity doesn’t fall into this similar category.
3. Salary & benefits – salary may not rate as the number one reason for taking another job these days. In fact, the decision is usually more about culture, leadership and growth opportunities. However, if the financial arrangements are too far below a candidate’s current situation, you are at risk of them declining your offer. Make sure this conversation is not left to the last minute and then realising that there is a problem.
4. Real motivation – one of the most important aspects to gain from an interview is someone’s motivation. This covers both emotional (challenge, job security etc) and rational (money, job title etc) motivators. If your opportunity can’t satisfy both these aspects for a candidate, you are at high risk of them declining an eventual offer of employment or being successfully counter-offered. Don’t forget leaving or staying is primarily an emotional decision.
5. Job pipeline – how active is this candidate in the market? Do they have lots of interviews, have they just commenced or are they close to an offer of employment with someone else? You don’t need intimate details and of course this could be inappropriate to ask, but from where you stand, you need to know. Don’t be left in the dark about their other activity in the job market to avoid being pipped at the post.
6. Trial close – don’t wait until the end of the process before making the only formal offer of employment. After a second interview, if you feel you are getting close to making an offer, try using a hypothetical. “Hypothetically, if I offered you the role today, what would you say?” The beauty of this question is it will bring any hesitation or concerns to fore pretty quickly and addressing these before a formal offer, increases your chances of an acceptance.
7.Verbal offer – if possible, don’t send out a full contract or letter of employment until you have verbal acceptance. Keep control of the process and don’t give the opportunity to played off with a current employer and enter a bidding war.
8. Resignation management – resigning can be a difficult process, especially if the candidate has a good relationship with their direct supervisor. Talk to the candidate about when they think they might resign. Have they considered how they will approach it? Sharing a war story or giving some friendly advice at this stage can take some pressure off the candidate and give them confidence to deliver the news. Always make sure the candidate rings you once they have resigned so you can be sure they are on board.
I will never forget the professional services firm who sent out a bottle of champagne with an offer of employment, only for it not to be signed and the candidate joined a competitor organisation! Never ever celebrate a new hire until the ink is dry on the contract and they have resigned.
Be confident, in control and clear throughout the hiring process. This will ensure all parties are on the same page before any contracts are drafted and welcome emails sent. Engaging the right talent from the very start will save embarrassment, frustration and ultimately re-work.
Are you struggling to find and hire the right people? At nicoleunderwood we specialise in executive search, recruitment and retention strategies. Contact us here to discuss how we can assist in finding and keeping the right talent for your organisation.