If you had to choose among three factors—(1) the company, (2) the position you're applying for, or (3) the people you'd be working with—which would you say plays the most significant role in your decision to accept our offer?

Why Ask This Question?

This smacks of an exercise in the counteroffer drill (see Question 88 in Chapter 16)—namely, asking candidates to confirm why joining your company makes sense for them from a career or personal standpoint. It bears repetition because when time passes between the interviewing stage and the final offer, it becomes critical to invite the candidate to redefine the benefits of joining your company—both for you and for him. You want to make sure that this candidate has a clear understanding of what your organization is all about; he needs to hear again out loud what benefits and opportunities exist by joining your firm.

Analyzing the Response

Good Answers. You'll find that most people choose option one—the company—as the key reason why they change jobs. People look for the emotional recognition of a job well done; they want to work for a company that takes care of its people; and they want to know that they can make a difference. Those emotional criteria are inherently found in the company and all of its manifestations: its people, its corporate culture, and its ambience.

Don't be surprised, however, to find administrative support candidates linking themselves to option three. Workers who define themselves by the relationships they keep often see themselves via the people they report to. So an executive secretary reporting to a chief operating officer will probably base more of the decision to accept your offer on the perceived relationship with the COO.

Similarly, some aggressive corporate ladder climbers may be more motivated by the increased responsibilities that the new position offers. The enticement of a greater span of control, budget, or exposure to new areas of interest increases the individual's overall marketability. Such enticements lock the candidate into accepting the offer.

If we were to make you an offer, tell me ideally when you'd like to start. How much notice would you need to give your present employer?

Why Ask This Question?

Notice the use of the subjunctive case in phrasing this statement—"if we were to make you an offer.'' Even though you're about to make an offer within two or three minutes, there's no need to give away the farm. Keeping the candidate at arm's length only serves to heighten the individual's desire and to reinforce your control.

Analyzing the Response

Most candidates will need to give their current employer two weeks' notice. Of course, senior-level managers may need to give several months' notice because of their broad responsibilities and the impact that leaving the company will have. Therefore, the first rule is: Don't pressure candidates to start tomorrow when they have to give appropriate notice. You could build a lot of resentment if you force individuals to walk away from their present company without giving that organization ample time to locate and train a replacement.

High performers are sophisticated consumers regarding the employment marketplace, and they realize that their current employers will be providing reference-check information about them for the next ten years. No one wants to risk a negative future reference saying, ''Oh, Doris was a solid performer, but she left us without notice. That really stuck in my throat and was a very disappointing end to an otherwise excellent track record. In short, if you need someone immediately, hire a temp. But let candidates determine their own timeliness for giving notice (as long as it s a reasonable amount of time for the amount of responsibility that they hold).

Red Flags

The second rule is: Watch out for people who don t feel obligated to give their current employer any notice. After all, you don t expect to be left high and dry when this person decides to move on to greener pastures. More important, the decision to leave a company without giving any notice reveals little loyalty or character.

Consequently, the person s inclination to follow proper corporate etiquette may in itself play a role in your decision to extend the offer. Remember, you still haven t offered the job yet, and it s not too late to put the individual on hold, catch your breath, and then promise to call back later. Buying yourself some extra time at this point is perfectly acceptable.

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