Getting the Candidate to Say “Yes” to Your Job Offer

Isn’t it frustrating to spend all that time looking for the right person, sifting through countless resumes and interviewing candidate after candidate…only to have them reject your job offer?  You think you’ve found the perfect future employee for your company but he or she takes a job someplace else.  What can you do to improve your chances of success?

I am surprised by how many companies spend all that effort on resume review and interviewing, only to blow the chance to make a good hire with a lousy offer letter.  Or worse yet, a lousy offer letter delivered by email.

If you want to get better results, make a phone call!  As the CEO of a small software business, I liked to make the call myself.  I didn’t want to delegate this task to anyone.  Especially not after the organization spent hours and hours on a painful (and costly!) search.  When it is such a critical element of our mission, why delegate that down?  I think the offer should come from the highest level an organization can effectively allow.

Here’s an example of how my offer phone call would go:

Me: The most important thing that we do here is delight the customer.  The second most important thing that we do here is add to our team.  We spend a LOT of time looking for the right fit.  For this position alone we evaluated over 90 candidates!  The reason we spend so much time on it is because it is so important to find the right match for our company.  After all that effort, you can imagine what a pleasure it is to find someone who is a great match for our company.  Someone like you, Jeff.  I’m not alone in saying this.  Everyone here that interviewed has expressed a desire to work together with you.

Do you get it? Can you imagine the impact that a conversation like this has on Jeff?  I can imagine him processing this information: “It’s a call from the company the I really want to work for!  From the CEO!  And the CEO is saying that everyone there liked me!” Pretty exciting, isn’t it?  If we’ve done a good job of vetting the candidate, we have a pretty good idea of who he is and he has a pretty good idea of who we are.  This is the point where I try to close the deal:

Me: Well, I’ve told you how I feel about having you join us here at our company. Now I’d like to hear from you.  Do you still want the job?

After this I stop talking.  I want the candidate to convince me that they are still interested in the position.

In my hiring process, I like to do this phone call before the offer letter.  If Jeff says that he wants the job, I close with this:

Me: Fantastic news.  I’m glad to hear it.  Listen, I’m going to send you an offer letter that outlines all of the details of what we’ve just discussed in writing.   Take some time to review it.  If you believe it is everything that we’ve just agreed on, please sign and return the letter to me by Friday.  I’m sincerely looking forward to working with you, Jeff.

The offer letter that I send reiterates the details of employment (position title, start date, compensation, benefits, etc).  I always ask for a signed acceptance letter by the date we agreed.  (I generally give a candidate two or three days to evaluate the offer. So, for example, if I make the offer on Tuesday, I’d ask for the signed acceptance letter by Friday.)

My experience has been that this simple technique greatly increases the chances that the candidate will accept my job offer.  What do you think?

Aloha and best regards,

Dave

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