Hire Wisdom: 7 Tips from a Headhunter on Closing a Candidate – Pt. 1

October 13th, 2014

Ross Campbell Financial Services Insurance Recruiter
By Ross Campbell, Financial Services & Insurance Recruiter

By this point, you’ve completed the first 8 steps in this Hire Wisdom: The 12 Keys to Successful Hiring blog series.  You have the right candidate, have built trust with the candidate, listened to the candidate’s needs, and have a folder full of notes and assessments from multiple interviews.  Now, the tables have turned… the candidate is now the one making the decisions.  Let’s assume the candidate has multiple offers (as you always should to stay competitive).

Losing the right candidate at this critical offer and acceptance stage is a big loss with a huge opportunity cost.  Below I’ve outlined 7 tips on how to present and close an offer with a candidate.

1. Shorten the Hiring Cycle

Schedule interviews quickly after advertising or presenting the initial job description.  Ask for samples of their work prior to or during the interview so that you can make a good decision in less time.  When you are considering multiple candidates, schedule multiple interviews in a single day.

tips from a headhunter closing a candidate

Time kills deals.  The more time you take to make your decision, the more time the candidate has to explore other opportunities.  A speedy job offer demonstrates your desire to have this person join your company, and shows you think quickly and respect the candidate’s time.  If you cannot engage a candidate in the job interview process, how do you expect to engage a new employee on the job?

Make your offer promptly, preferably face to face to gauge their reaction and increase your closing probability.  For example, it’s 5:05pm and you’ve found the right fit. What are you waiting for?  Offer them the job now!  You are risking having to negotiate by moving quickly, but the right candidate won’t be around to negotiate with if you move too slowly.  People want to feel wanted, so show them you want them once you decide they are “the one”. Give them an evening to mull over your offer, send the offer in writing, and confirm that you would appreciate an answer by the end of the business day and certainly with 48 hours.  If you believe they are that good, so will somebody else.

2. Focus on What Is Important to the Candidate & How You Can Provide It

Most often a meaningful job with a lower salary will be chosen over a less meaningful job with a higher salary.

But what makes a job meaningful?  Opportunities for advancement, feeling challenged, and making a real impact are some of the common factors.  Outline how the candidate can progress through the company and how they will be challenged.  How does the company as a whole, and that role in particular, make a difference in the world?

Highlight why someone should come to work for your business.  It could be anything, like cutting-edge opportunities, new chances for advancement, staff recognition, bonus programs, community involvement, or your unique corporate culture.  Listen to what perks are important to them, such as flex hours, fitness credits, etc.  Demonstrate how your business meshes with the candidate’s life and lifestyle.  This is your opportunity to make the candidate feel good about coming to work for you.  Emotion is what moves most candidates… pun intended.

Avoid misunderstandings by formalizing your job offer in writing.  Along with starting salary, include additional details such as job title, job responsibilities, location, and all the intangibles.  Be careful not to imply more than you are sure you can deliver; for instance, statements that allude to job security can be interpreted as a “promise” of job security, making it difficult to let go of someone who doesn’t work out.

3. Do They Have Another Offer? Get the Details

If your candidate mentions that they are considering another offer as well as yours, ask them for details about the other offer.  Ask for the salary, benefits, work environment, and what they like and dislike about the job opportunity.  Ask what their deciding factors are.

Don’t make any new offers at this stage; you simply want to garner as much information as you can.  Watch that you’re not grilling them, though.  Ask questions simply and respectfully, letting them know you want to understand what the competition is and how your role competes.

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Now you’re up to speed on the importance of a short hiring cycle, and you’re well-versed in what is important to the candidate and the details of any competing offers they may have.  Stay tuned for part two where I’ll share more headhunter tips on presenting and closing an offer with a candidate.  Part two will be available on the IQ PARTNERS blog this Thursday, October 16th.

Ross Campbell

Ross Campbell is a Partner and Practice Lead, Financial Services & Insurance with IQ PARTNERS. Celebrating over 10 years of management consulting experience in executive search, recruitment, and training in Canadian financial services and insurance companies, Ross thrives on the belief that business can be done significantly better by investing in the right people.