Say no before you get an offer? Sounds crazy, doesn’t it.
By John Borrowman, CPC
Borrowman Baker, LLC, BV Staffing + Consulting
Interviewing BV candidates can be challenging enough. Making an offer is often the hardest part because it’s when you finally give up control of the process. Up to now, the candidate has been nervous.
Before you actually make that offer, there are four questions you should get in the habit of asking. You can ask the first two earlier in the interview process. Ask the final two only when your candidate has completed the process and you’re ready to extend an offer.
If you decided to stay where you are, what would most likely be your next career move and how long before you make that move?
This helps you understand how your candidate sees the career potential in her current role, and how your opportunity compares. You will also learn something about how you should describe your opportunity so you make it more enticing. You can also get a sense of how susceptible your candidate may be to a counter-offer.
Take a minute and tell me why you think joining us and taking on this role would be valuable to you from a personal and career development point of view? If you were looking back on this in five years, how would you explain this move to a potential employer at that point?
Your strategy is to have the candidate tell you the benefits of joining your practice, rather than the other way around. You will get to hear what your candidate thinks are the strong points of your opportunity and you can build on them in subsequent conversations. This question may also reveal misunderstandings your candidate has. If so, you’re better off correcting them early on.
If you received a job offer from us today, would you be in a position to accept or decline?
What you’re hoping to hear is “yes, pretty much immediately.” What you should expect to hear is that your candidate wants to “think about it.” If your candidate wants more than a couple days, though, you should be asking what questions remain that you haven’t answered. Delay can be a stall tactic or reflect an intention to use your offer as a bargaining chip. Your actual offer letter should always include a specific expiration deadline.
I’m going to ask you the crunch question. What’s the salary level where you would accept our offer without a need for further discussion, and what’s the level where you walk away?
Your candidate is going to expect to hear the offer and will feel caught off guard by your question. Asking in this way can make it more likely you’ll get a reliable response. If expectations are aligned, you can go ahead and make the offer. If you see a problem, you can a) discuss that with your candidate to determine flexibility, or b) delay while you speak to your compensation review team to see whether adjustments can be made.
Making an offer means showing the cards you have in your hand. Asking these questions helps you know what cards your candidate is holding.