Making the Offer and Closing the Deal: Questions to Ensure That Candidates Accept Your Job Offers

ONCE THE INTERVIEWINGPROCESS is completed, candidates should be pre-closed on wanting to accept your job offer. Whether that's because you brought them through a questioning drill that helped them identify their own needs and tie their motives to your company's future or because you framed a real-life scenario of the limitations at their present company after their counteroffer acceptance, candidates should be much more receptive. After all, the worst time for them to be examining the pros and cons of leaving one company and joining another is now—at the actual time of the offer. Emotions run high at the finish line, and if they haven't played out this final scenario in their minds up until now, then they may fall victim to counteroffer temptation.

Of course, your job is not to coddle a candidate. As the employer, you don't want to have to convince someone to come to work for you. After all, if it's that much of a challenge just to get the prospective new hire to say yes to an offer, then this is probably a premature decision on the individual's part. Recall as well that the first decision you watch a candidate make is the acceptance or rejection of your offer. If the offer is accepted only halfheartedly, that may put a damper on this relationship's new beginnings.

Still, don't underestimate the tremendous pressure that most people feel while undergoing this significant rite of passage. In case it's been a while since you yourself changed jobs, think back to the fears you experienced before saying yes to a new start date and good-bye to close friends at your last company. Remember that job change ranks right up there with fear of public speaking and fear of death in terms of causing anxiety in most of us humans. And rightfully so—severing the ties with a job where you know exactly what is expected of you, with your corporate family, the familiar restaurants where you have lunch, and the comfortable chair that you've broken in to fit your back conjures up intense fears in even the most confident people:

''What if the grass isn't greener on the other side? What if the new company experiences an unforeseen layoff? At least here I've got tenure and would probably survive the first few rounds of cuts. I've heard a lot about people getting axed because of the LIFO rule: 'Last in, first out' means that I'd be the first one out on the street. Is my present job really so bad? I mean, at least I like the people and know where I stand. . . . Help, I'm having buyer's remorse!''

Which all points to the significance of making offers softly and delicately. Empathy for the job changer in the final decision process is crucial because while the new opportunity is exciting on the one hand, it requires disloyalty to the current employer on the other. So, saying yes to you means simultaneously rejecting the family and friends back at the office. And no matter how much the candidate wants out, emotional twangs of fear and guilt remain. If you, therefore, approach the final offer (as in the counteroffer role-play) from a ''pull'' sell rather than a ''push'' sell standpoint, you'll end up asking questions to make the candidate pursue you rather than vice versa.

The scenario is this: After conducting numerous rounds of interviews with multiple candidates, you boiled down your selection to two people. Both passed muster with everyone involved in the hiring process, both had solid references and test scores, and both were taken through a resignation drill as outlined in Chapter 16: ''Preempting the Counteroffer: Steering Candidates Clear of Temptation'' to ensure that they would accept your offer. You haven't spoken for two days while you've been deciding which candidate made the final cut. You're now about to make the offer to your primary candidate (of course, you're holding onto candidate number two just in case candidate one balks at the offer), and here's what it sounds like:

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