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Closing Candidates: Failures in Preparation

You’ve selected an excellent candidate and are ready to make an offer. You’re SO CLOSE to being victorious; completing this short hiring ‘putt’ will fill your critical job opening. But do you and your company falter when closing candidates on offer acceptance, for some inexplicable reason?

If you lack experience or knowledge in successfully closing candidates, it’s easy get nervous, knowing that your top candidate has an interview with another rival firm. However, it’s regrettable when your hiring efforts become unhinged and entirely collapses, knowing that your candidate has an offer at Amazon, Apple, Facebook, or Google.

This begs the question, “Is your firm’s recruiting effort failure prone on the hiring green?”

In two earlier blogs, we offered guidance on how to tee off on a candidate search, as well as how to get out of recruiting bunkers. You’re now on the green, with a short putt to finish off your final interview to hire round. What’s holding you and your company back?

Perhaps you might remember those days in the late ’90’s through 2004, whether it be at the U.S. Open, The Masters, or any other PGA Championship. Many gifted golf players somehow would choke in the final round, after having a commanding lead, paying more mental attention to Tiger Woods advancing on the leader board than their game.  They allowed themselves to be distracted from a win entirely within their grasp.

If only those golfers could have gotten some inspiration, by perhaps listening to Shania Twain’s song, “That Don’t Impress Me Much”. We laugh (and don’t you?) when Shania observes, “Okay, so you’re Brad Pitt. That don’t impress me much.”

Let’s see how we can prepare you for a successful candidate close.

Closing Candidates: Top 5 Checklist

  1. Understand Candidate Reasons for Leaving Current Firm
    You have acquired a prospective candidate. That’s great! Now, how committed are they to leaving their present firm? We challenge the candidate to explain the exact reasons why they’d leave their company. We even encourage them at times to re-think their reasoning, if they haven’t given their existing firm a fair shake. Why, you might ask would we do this? Because if there is a slight bump in the road, working for a company we represent, would they also consider moving to greener perceived pastures? Al’s dad would call such employees ‘hot house flowers’. They’re too temperamental. We weed these candidates out for consideration. So should you.
  2. Repeatedly Pre-Close Candidates
    You don’t wait until selecting a candidate, before finding out their compensation required to accept your position. You need to dig into exactly what their expectations are on compensation range, their desired title, the essential duties they need in their new position, and what career growth is expected. As candidates progress through your interview cycle, these expectations may change. Hence, there’s a need to perform regularly a reality check.
  3. Determine Candidate Interview Status with Competitors
    Don’t assume that a candidate is only interviewing with your firm. Ask them how things are progressing in their interaction with other firms. Try to lean as much as is possible on what interests them in the other opportunities and how they were attracted to other firms. This intelligence can reveal the sharpness of the candidate’s career focus, the tempo of other interviews taking place, and how your firm’s position opportunities compare to other firm’s being contemplated.
  4. Gauge Candidate Interview Feedback & Enthusiasm
    Capturing what your hiring manager and interviewers have to say about a candidate visit is important. Capturing what the candidate thinks of their interviews is also important, but frequently neglected by both your in-house and outside recruiters.
    What’s the value of getting candidate feedback? If your firm is excited about a given candidate, are they equally excited about the prospect of working for you?A lukewarm response to post-interview questions can reveal possible areas of weakness in your ranks in conveying the open position’s opportunities. This can stem from inadequately trained or prepared interviewers, inconsistencies in your firm’s message from one interviewer to another, or the candidate not being entirely invested in seeing themselves at your firm. If your candidate is not engaged or excited in describing their interview experience, is it because they simply are reserved? Or could it be that the candidate perceives a mismatch in their career interests with the opportunity offered. It’s important to figure this out, if there is interest in moving forward with the candidate.
  5. Offer Acceptance Preparation
    You have at last decided which candidate to hire, having executed all the above prior steps. What’s left to do? Prepare the written offer & present it to the candidate, right? Not quite yet. Now is the time to make one final pre-close that your candidate will commit to joining your company, having received an offer coming within the compensation range, with the title and responsibilities that had previously been discussed. You’ll want to know from the candidate in their own words why they want your open position & what it will mean to their career and quality of life. If there are open issues, now is the time for them to be resolved, prior to presenting an offer.Once all issues have been addressed satisfactorily to the candidate, present them with the verbal offer and gain their verbal acceptance, prior to releasing the hard copy offer. The offer will come with a deadline for acceptance.
    When dealing with high level posts, as well as with offers involving relocation, more time may be required by a candidate to digest bonus structures, guaranteed minimum compensation, pre-planned vacation travel, changes to medical benefits and start date. It is possible that any of those items may need some adjustments, to be acceptable to the candidate.Keep ever present in your mind what it costs your firm each week not having your open position filled. Actively consider a hire on bonus to close any gaps in compensation, if going outside salary grade ranges will be jeopardized in making an offer. Also be prepared to assist the candidate in reviewing the details, or arrange meetings with others who can better address a candidate’s questions on the offer package.

Having performed all the above items, you have succeeded in thoroughly vetting your most desired candidate, with the utmost confidence that they will both accept your offer and start their employment with your firm.

So much for your competitors trying to get your candidate. “Okay, so you’re Google, and tried to capture my candidate.
That don’t impress me much!”

Now, sink your putt and get your candidate pre-boarding plan into full-swing.

Happy Hiring,
Minda & Alfredo