Today’s market is really tough.  Companies are climbing over themselves to find the one high profile candidate who will strengthen the leadership team.  You feel that you’re working with a strong recruitment partner.  Your interview process has been well laid out and the assumption is that the preferred candidate is happy and onboard after the final interview.

Understandably, in both your excitement and haste to secure this candidate you move quickly to communicate your intention to offer as soon as possible.  Wrong.

I’ve witnessed the good and the bad when clients have got to offer stage over the past fortnight; hence this post.  With the aim of helping companies gain the best advantage of securing the star candidates there are key issues to avoid and processes to be achieved.  These are:

  • Recognising what the candidates main motivations for moving are.  Any good recruitment partner will have asked this at early qualifying period.  It’s essential this is reflected on after the final interview and discussed with the company stakeholders, even prior to final interviewing stage.  How can you leverage what you have to offer as an employer against his or hers current angst?
  • Flipping this, what is it that particularly excites them about this new role and company?  Again, the recruiter should have gained a strong understanding after first interview, with both recruiter and company stakeholders strengthening this throughout the rest of the process.  Done properly, these two points create a lightbulb moment with candidates, and take the conversation away from purely monetary gains
  • What other opportunities is the preferred candidate pursuing?  A classic recruiters question which must be managed throughout the process, thus not leading to any nasty surprises later on
  • Salary expectations.  Okay, so your recruitment partner qualified the candidate ahead of sharing CV’s but has the candidates expectation now changed having met with the prospective employer a couple of times?  They now have a stronger sense for the expectation of the role, the culture of the business and the future prospects.  Don’t leap in with an offer.  Instead, sow the seed with an initial call, alluding to the fact that the candidate is of particular interest, thus allowing for further investigation into salary. Reiterate figures from qualifying calls; have these changed; what will and will not work for the candidate?  “If the company did offer “X” would you accept”?
  • Does the candidate have a fair handle on the rest of the package?  I’m surprised at how many times candidates are not aware of exactly what a bonus scheme can yield, or what longer term shares could mean to them
  • Without applying too much pressure, set clear deadlines throughout the offer stage.  Ensure everyone is clear on what is expected of them and by when

Overarching all of the above, continued availability to communicate between company stakeholders, the recruiter and the offeree are absolutely fundamental.  Unfortunately, and irrespective of diary commitments, everybody involved must make themselves available and block out time to speak.  For me, the precise point is when candidates start gaining too much control of the process and radio silence ensues.