There is little more frustrating than making an offer to a candidate you feel excited about, only to have them turn it down. The more senior the role being placed, the more acute this frustration (and the greater the consequence for the business).
There are many reason why candidates drop out of a hiring process in the later stages, but this article deals solely with functional reasons – the actual logistics of your hiring process that might lead to a negative outcome. What’s going on IN your business – the culture and goals – and the actual nitty gritty of the role are both significant reasons for candidates to drop out, but they’re topics for another time.
The three keys to closing
- Personal rapport
By the time you’re ready to close on a candidate you should have developed a personal rapport of some kind. We’re not talking lots of personal questions, they don’t have to be your new best friend, but being able to communicate confidently and candidly is a must.
The easier it is to contact them (eg. if you need a question answered ASAP, can you just call them?) and the easier it is to have a proper conversation (where they trust you enough to be honest), the smoother the process will be.
- Slick, respectful process
The longer your process takes, the more people will drop out. If they don’t hear back from you at all (it should go without saying but… don’t do this), around 60% will have lost interest by the end of the second week. Nearly a third of candidates say that a protracted hiring process makes them question a business’s overall ability to make decisions.
Being respectful to a candidate’s time and needs should be a no-brainer. You might think you’re filling the best role in the world, but if you aren’t respectful while doing it the candidate would be forgiven for disagreeing.
- Understand their motivation
If you want to make a sale, you need to understand the buyer. Understanding a candidate’s motivation will help you create the most compelling practical offer, which means better value for both of you and less back and forth (again, this is all about saving time).
Ready to make an offer?
Step 1: craft your offer
The better you understand the candidate, the more likely you can create the perfect offer on the first try, but don’t be surprised if there are queries or issues. This the first time that an agreement has been put down “on paper”, better to make sure everything is completely understood now.
Two important principles when you put your offer together. Start by being transparent. Anything that could be perceived as manipulative or disingenuous is going to see your offer rejected. If circumstances have changed between the interview stage and now that’s OK: just be honest and upfront about it. Once you’ve made your offer only change it based on feedback from the candidate – don’t deviate from your initial pitch without letting them know.
Avoid being vague on your commitments or requirements. If you cannot meet a particular need then simply say so and explain why. It’s important to remember that you’re not just trying to get someone through the door – you’re looking to make a productive long-term hire. A working experience that doesn’t live up to the initial offer is likely to be a short one.
Step 2: avoid lowballing (unless the candidate expects it)
In general we suggest avoiding lowballing whenever possible. Offer what you think is appropriate. Be respectful. Enjoying haggling is not sufficient justification for the serious effect on a person’s career and wellbeing that being underpaid can bring.
We especially suggest you avoid doing it to women. Women are well aware of the gender pay gap. Nearly half of women in tech believe they are being paid less than men, and nearly half lack of wage growth as their biggest challenge. All you are doing here is sabotaging your retention – wasting your own time and money.
You may come across the occasional candidate that expects to be lowballed and relishes the chance to negotiate (this is one of the reasons why that personal rapport is so important). If you encounter this very specific personality type, you might consider opening with a slightly lower offer, but only with a reasonable final offer in mind.
Step 3: set a time limit
Once your offer is ready, send it over with a time limit. Provide context to avoid spooking the candidate – they need to know that you’re ready to commit – but make sure that they understand the need to move quickly. In our experience, most people appreciate the clear structure (and as previously noted, failure to adequately steer the process can lead to professionals losing faith in your business).
If you’ve sent the final offer before the middle of the week, ask them to get back to you by EOB on Friday. If you’ve sent it over in the back end of the week you should give them the weekend to think it over – ask for EOB Monday.
Regardless of send time, ask them to return to you with questions within 24 hours. You both need to know if their queries are going to require significant discussion time, and whether you perhaps need to meet again.
Step 4: be ready to talk
If/when a candidate comes back with a counter-offer, you should be confident and unemotional in your negotiation.
You want them to feel comfortable enough to be open about competing offers they may have received. Once you have the details of other offers you can make an objective choice about what changes you can make to your own.
Remember: there is no “perfect” job, everyone has a right to chase what they need, and a partnership entered into equally is stronger than one formed under some kind of duress. No matter how important making this hire is to your business, avoid becoming defensive or “inhabiting” the offer too keenly.
Step 5: sort the contract
This is a danger point – so much so that at Juggle we do it on behalf of our users. In our experience a neutral third party is much better positioned (and experienced) to both create a contract that works for both groups and react objectively to any changes. You might be surprised how many offers fall apart at this point.
Step 6: update your onboarding
We won’t tell you how to do this, this is just a reminder that your onboarding should be under constant evaluation. How did it work for your last hire/wave of hires? Have you already implemented everything you’ve learned?
Step 7: get a social in the diary
It’s important to welcome people properly (and let’s face it, you’ve earned it).