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Making the Offer and Closing the Deal
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  1. Making the Offer and Closing the Deal

  2. Contents • Premise: “Candidate Control” is Key • Interview Questioning “Musts” • The Nature of the Match • References to the Rescue

  3. Contents (cont.) • Debriefs after Final Interviews • Resignation Drills • The Offer • The Close and Ensuing Negotiations

  4. Stages Leading up to Offer • Workforce planning + job posting / outreach • » Interviewing • Identification of finalist(s) / debriefs • Pre-offer: Reference checks and pre-employment tests • » Salary negotiations and offer • Post-offer: Background checks, drug screens, and/or pre-employment physicals

  5. Premise: “Candidate Control” is Key • Once you extend an employment offer to a job candidate, the balance of power shifts because you give up control of the negotiation process. • You’ll know you’ve fallen victim to a troubled negotiation when you’ve extended an offer and the candidate introduces new information:

  6. Premise (cont.) • “I recently learned that I was in line for a promotion with my current company. Can we make that a consideration in terms of my starting salary?” • “I appreciate the offer. Could I let you know my decision by next Friday?”

  7. Premise (cont.) • “I accept your offer! By the way, did I tell you need that I need to give 4 weeks’ notice, and I’ve got a 3-week trip to Cabo planned for next month?” • The goal is to pre-close the candidate throughout the hiring process

  8. Lesson Learned • Because candidates can throw you similar last-minute curve balls, you should be wary of extending offers and giving away your negotiation power prematurely. • Job offer negotiations are all about gaining the necessary information to control critical variables.

  9. Interview Questioning “Musts” Question 1: What would be your next logical move in career progression if you remained with your currentcompany? • How long would it take to get there?

  10. Interviewing “Musts” (cont.) Question 2: What would have to change at your current company in order for you stay? • [LOGIC: You need to know right up front if there’s a possibility of this candidate accepting a counteroffer.]

  11. Interviewing “Musts” (cont.) Question 3: What’s the reason for leaving (RFL) your current company? • LOGIC: The reason for leaving is the link in a candidate’s career progression. The reason for leaving their current company must be fulfilled by your company!

  12. Interviewing “Musts” (cont.) • Distinguish between RFLs that are outside of a candidate’s control (e.g., layoffs) and RFLs that result from candidates’ orchestrating their own moves (e.g., “No room for growth”) • “Qualify” a layoff and challenge the “No room for growth” response

  13. Interviewing “Musts” (cont.) • If the job you’re offering is a “been there -- done that” for the individual, the likelihood of a long-term successful hire is minimal. • “Overqualified” is a term applied not only to salary but also to responsibility level.

  14. The Nature of the Match • 100%+ match > overqualified • 80% match > ideal / opportunities for career growth and professional development; “learning curve” • 60% match > probably won’t meet your organization’s immediate needs

  15. References to the Rescue It’s become all too common that candidates interview for positions at significant cuts in pay. The issue becomes, Is this really a good move in career progression for the individual, or is this the only available “port in the storm”?

  16. References (cont.) • References could be a very valuable resource to judge whether the candidate is being forthright in her statement that she’s flexible to take a cut in pay. • Try the following questions in your next reference check:

  17. References (cont.) • Opener: “I know Janet’s in transition and looking to re-establish herself career-wise. Did she mention to you why she was so interested in this job?” • Closer: “My concern is that this would entail a 20% cut in pay from her last position. She’s aware of that, but you know her better than I do. Will that eventually become an issue for her?”

  18. References (cont.) Tips for Getting Employers to Open Up to You during the Reference-Checking Phone Call: • Shift the burden of opening the lines of communication with prior supervisors back to the candidate: “Tell Janet Smith from XYZ Company that we put a lot of value on references from prior employers and that we’d like to speak with her about your candidacy. Call me once that’s all set up. . .” (Alternative: Have the references call you.)

  19. References (cont.) 2. Open up the call this way: • “Janet told me some very nice things about your ability to give her structure and direction in her day, and I was hoping you’d be able to share some insights into her ability to excel at our company . . .”

  20. References (cont.) 3. Overcome Objections “I appreciate that your company has policies in place re: no references – so does ours. In our experience, though, we’ve found that managers who like their past subordinates and want to help them get a leg up in their careers will often share their insights confidentially. We value references tremendously at our firm – Can I ask you just a few questions? . . . “

  21. References (cont.) 4. Challenge the “Stone Waller”. . . “I understand. Unfortunately we tend to view no news as bad news when it comes to prior supervisors’ recommendations, and we may not be able to hire her without validation from someone who was an immediate superior. Is there any way we could talk off the record?”

  22. Debrief after Final Interviews Question 4: What’s changed since the last time we spoke? • Red Flags: Beware sudden increases in responsibilities, salary increases, or a job offer from another company.

  23. Debriefs (cont.) • Your response: Put the offer process on hold. Discussing new developments with a candidate allows her to make the first move in the negotiation. • Lesson: Don’t assume that time has frozen since your last discussion.

  24. Debriefs (cont.) Question 5: Tell me again why you feel that the position you’re applying for meets your career needs or why joining our company would be a good move in career progression for you.

  25. Debriefs (cont.) Question 6: On a scale of 1 - 10 (10 being you’re really excited about accepting our offer, 1 being there’s no interest), where do you stand? • Why are you a [ ] (e.g., 8)? • What would make you a 10?

  26. Resignation Drill Question 7: I don’t want your emotions at the time of the offer to cloud your better business judgment. If you were to give notice right now, what would your company say to keep you? • Red Flag: Candidate may respond that she’d stay if she were given a counteroffer. If so, pull away like this:

  27. Resignation Drill (cont.) “Why don’t you speak with your current boss about that? If you get the raise / promotion / equity partnership, then this interview will certainly have been a good use of your time. If not, then call me back so we could pursue this a little more seriously. . .”

  28. The Offer Question 8: If we were to make you an offer today, when would you be in a position either to accept or reject it? • Red Flags: Candidates who ask for more than 24 hours may be delaying their commitment to you because there’s another offer on the line.

  29. The Offer (cont.) Your Response: “Janet, I’ve found that people who suddenly need more time at the finish line usually have another offer on the table. If that’s the case, that’s okay. Still, I’d like to know where we stand relative to your other offer.”

  30. The Offer (cont.) • Lesson: Don’t attempt to convince a candidate that your offer is superior. Her focus is definitely on the other offer -- Otherwise you would have heard an “I accept!” already. • Always place the candidate’s career interests above your own; otherwise, you’ll weaken your negotiating power.

  31. The Offer (cont.) Question 9: Again, if we were to make you an offer, tell me ideally when you’d be able to start. How much notice would you need to give your current employer?

  32. The Offer (cont.) Etiquette Red Flag: Beware of candidates who don’t feel obligated to give their current employers 2 weeks’ notice. • Don’t pressure candidates to start earlier than would be appropriate; recommend an additional week off between jobs whenever possible.

  33. The Offer (cont.) Question 10: Share with me what final questions I could answer about the position or about our company to help you come to a more informed career decision.

  34. The Close The $64,000 Question: At what point dollar-wise would you accept our offer, and at what point dollar-wise would you reject it? • Note: Candidates typically expect to “hear” offers rather than volunteer numbers themselves.

  35. The Close (cont.) • Caveat: The Interest - Demand Barometer • When interest is high, demands are low; when demands go up, it’s because interest has gone down • Ideally, candidates will close themselves at lateral moves to their current base salaries.

  36. The Close (cont.) • Candidates will more commonly peg an increase to a percentage of their base pay -- often 5% to 20% -- depending on their interest in the job and their perception of their market worth. Assuming that this is in your salary range, then you’re safe to extend the offer.

  37. The Negotiation • Scenario 1: The Malleable Candidate Smooth negotiations because of reasonable expectations on the candidate’s part and a satisfactory budget / internal equity analysis on the company’s part

  38. The Negotiation (cont.) • Scenario 2: The Law of Inverse Gravity Beware of mentioning salary ranges to candidates who will typically only hear the tops of the range. You’ll be upside down in the deal if the candidate feels you’re being cheap.

  39. The Negotiation (cont.) The “Internal Equity Defense” • Issue: What if the department hiring manager let’s the cat out of the bag and mentions the top of the salary range? • An explanation of the internal equity concept will always help you defend your offer because it’s objective:

  40. The Negotiation (cont.) “We don’t make salary offers in a vacuum. What’s in budget is one factor; slotting a new hire’s years of experience, skills and knowledge to the tenure and abilities of our existing staff is equally important. This offer closely matches the salary benchmarks of the existing employees in the group, and that’s why we feel it’s fair and objective. . .”

  41. The Negotiation (cont.) • Scenario 3: Offers for newly created positions (when you’ve got discretion and flexibility) • Key: Involve the candidate in the creation of the total compensation package!

  42. The Negotiation (cont.) “Janet, now that you’ve studied our annual report, met with the key players, and understand the key aspects of the role you’ll play if you join us, help me – You tell me how to best develop an overall compensation plan relative to your position’s impact on the corporate bottom line – and I’ll bring it to our Compensation Committee for approval . . .”

  43. The Moral of the Story • Retain control of the negotiation until you’ve had all your most critical questions answered. • As an employer, you wouldn’t expect a candidate to accept an offer without all the information necessary to come to an informed career decision.

  44. The Moral (cont.) • Expect no less of yourself -- for a candidate’s behavior during the actual offer negotiation may in itself strengthen your commitment to bring that individual aboard or cast doubt on the person’s ultimate suitability.

  45. The Moral (cont.) As in all negotiations and communications, be open, honest, and put the other person’s needs above your own. You’ll find that in most cases, people will respond in kind and appreciate your honesty and openness – What a great way to begin your new employment relationship!

  46. Q&A: Questions and Actions Paul Falcone