Many employers, correctly seeking to act quickly on a good candidate, put together and extend offers as soon as they decide a candidate is right for them. The minute the offer is extended, all control moves over to the candidate, and the employer’s ability to influence the decision, or help “close” the candidate is diminished. An important strategy is to test-close or pre-close the candidate, mostly to surface non-monetary issues.
Indicate that an offer is being put together at level $X, and ask if the candidate would accept an offer “like that.” Most will say “I’ll have to think about it.” At that point, the employer or recruiter can ask, “What would you be thinking about,” and begin to dig further into what issues need clarification, what other concerns (beyond the money) are present. Surprises will surface! Perhaps the candidate is not fully closed on relocation, or on the counter-offer possibilities. Maybe the spouse is worried about a new job, aging parents, kids in high school. Some candidates are concerned with seemingly minor issues, like another week of vacation, or employee share of health insurance, or even how much per pound the moving allowance will be! By finding out these variables before extending the offer, the employer remains in control of the information flow, can provide meaningful answers, counsel the candidate on the transition process, close sometimes inconsequential gaps, and get the close.
Once the offer is extended, the communication often stops, and the process becomes a poker game. Candidates will ask for more money, but sometimes hesitate to discuss other meaningful decision points. Many employers end up unnecessarily increasing the offer, to get a yes, when there are completely different issues at stake.
Take the extra time to find out what is really on the candidate’s mind. Get the acceptance faster, with less pain, and often at a lower cost. For more of my thoughts on hiring best practices, visit my blog.