Tell me again: Why do you feel the position you're applying for meets your career needs or why is working for our company so important for you?

Why Ask This Question?

Once you've concluded all the rounds of face-to-face interviews, thoroughly checked a candidate's references, and administered various tests and assessment tools, it's time to mentally prepare the candidate to accept your offer. The counteroffer ''prep'' and resignation drill function as a pre-closing technique to ensure that the candidate is aware that he will be propositioned once he returns to his current office to give notice. Therefore, the initial step in the process will require that the candidate voices out loud what benefits he'll gain by joining your company. This is specifically done by having him focus on how his personal or career needs are linked to the opportunity that your organization offers.

Analyzing the Response

Candidates typically join companies for one of three reasons. They are motivated because of:

1. The company and its growth plans, market niche, high-profile name brand recognition, or reputation as a quality employer

2. The position's variety, pace, opportunity for self-expression, reporting relationship, or scope of authority

3. The people they met along with the way in the interview process who gave them the feeling that they would fit in, be appreciated, and be recognized for their contributions

Inviting candidates to reiterate what is most important to them serves as the foundation for going forward with the offer. Candidates must convince you and themselves that their reason for leaving their present position won't come up again in the foreseeable future at your company. Don't assume that the benefits and the appeal of your organization are obvious to an outsider.

On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being you're really excited about accepting our offer, 1 being there's no interest), where do you stand?

Why Ask This Question?

If the previous query openly invites candidates to articulate their understanding of the benefits your organization has to offer them from a personal or career standpoint, then this follow-up query concretely qualifies their interest level. It forces candidates to come to terms with their own emotions and motives for job change as well as to volunteer any concerns they have about accepting your offer.

Analyzing the Response

This ''1 to 10'' question is an absolute litmus test for gauging an individual's emotional state. If you ask the candidate where she falls on a scale of 1 to 10, and she responds that she's an absolute 10, that's great! But beware: These are relative numbers, and it s the reasoning behind the numbers that counts, not the numbers themselves. For example, if Laura says that she's a 10, your immediate comeback is, ''Well, that's excellent, Laura. I'm happy to hear that. What makes you a 10?''

Good Answers. By qualifying the number, the candidate is forced to articulate her definition of a 10. If Laura is a 10 because she's currently a management consultant for a Big 4 accounting firm who wants to move into a client company for her first controllership, then your offer makes solid business sense for both of you. The chances of her rejecting this offer are slim.

Red Flags

If, on the other hand, she's a 10 because she's having difficulties getting along with her fickle boss, then she may be a ''fake'' 10. Interpersonal relationships change quickly with erratic supervisors, so that one day you're in and the next day you're out. Consequently, if the two kiss and make up, so to speak, or that boss leaves the company, then your ''motivated 10'' candidate might succumb to a counteroffer anyway. Beware the jilted subordinate.

How to Get More Mileage out of the Question. Let's say, however, that Laura answers that she's an 8. In that case, you need a threefold comeback:

1. ''Why are you an 8?''

2. ''What would make you a 10?'' And then,

3. ''If that issue could be resolved, where would you then rank on a scale of 1 to 10?

The key to this discussion obviously lies in closing the gap between the individual s perception of your opportunity and the reality of the job you re offering. Then it's simply a matter of confirming that no other roadblocks are in the way that could hinder the individual from accepting your offer. Here's how this scenario plays itself out:

You: Laura, why do you consider yourself an 8?

Candidate: Well, after doing my research, I really feel that a controllership in a company of this size should pay no less than $80,000. Your offer of $65,000 is somewhat less than I expected. I appreciate the fact that you're limited by internal equity in that you can't pay me more than your existing staff members who hold similar levels of responsibility. Still, we really didn't discuss salary until yesterday, and although I'm extremely interested in joining your company, I was somewhat disappointed because I feel you're paying below the market.

You: Okay, what would your compensation package look like to make you a 10?

Candidate: First, I'm currently earning $72,000 as a senior consultant, so I'd like a base of no less than that. On the other hand, if you really can't offer more than $65,000 in base salary, I'd like to receive a sign-on bonus that brings me to $72,000 and an options package that exceeds the base.

You: I can't commit to you, Laura, that we could come up with a sign-on bonus or offer you the options you're requesting. I need to put a pencil to paper first. Now that I know what your expectations are, though, I have something concrete to work with. Let's put this issue aside for a moment. Assuming that I can create a compensation package that meets your needs, then where would you rank on a scale of 1 to 10?

Candidate: I'd be an absolute 10 and would be ready to join ranks by the middle of next month.

Notice how you've skillfully helped the candidate flesh out her arbitrary 8 rating on the interest scale. You isolated her objection and then probed for other areas that concerned her. Finally, you pre-closed her to accept your offer if her conditions were met. Voila—you made a skillful employment offer that considered her needs and attempted to resolve her concerns before asking her to commit to you. Such practices will build goodwill in the pre-employment process and convince new hires that your company sets people up to win by putting others' needs first.

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