The Job Offer, Part II

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In the April issue, we talked about preparing an offer of employment and the steps leading up to it. While the offer itself is important, the candidate's motivation to make the change, as well as his or her expectations going forward is equally important. Before the offer Before making a job offer, the hiring manager should conduct a pre-offer discussion with the candidate.

June 01, 2005

In the April issue, we talked about preparing an offer of employment and the steps leading up to it. While the offer itself is important, the candidate's motivation to make the change, as well as his or her expectations going forward is equally important.

Before the offer

Before making a job offer, the hiring manager should conduct a pre-offer discussion with the candidate. A pre-offer discussion might go something like this:

Tom, the feedback from everyone who met you was quite favorable. We all agree that you should be given strong consideration for this opening. Before we make a final decision, I would like to give you an opportunity to share your feelings and observations. With this in mind, I have a few more questions for you:

How do you view this opportunity compared to your current situation?

How does our opportunity fit with your career aspirations?

Do you feel confident you can do the job?

Is there anything about our opportunity that raises any issues or causes for concern or was left fuzzy or unclear?

Money aside, is there anything that would preclude you from joining our team?

Understand, we want to have an authentic discussion about our potential future together.

We want to make sure the candidate feels as good about us and the opportunity as we do about the candidate.

Assuming there are no unresolved issues, steer the discussion toward compensation. Discuss the candidate's current compensation, including any bonus programs, bonus formulas and potential for achieving it. You might learn the candidate has a 100 percent bonus opportunity, but due to factors beyond his control, the realistic potential is half that amount. In such cases, the candidate has been conditioned to "divide by two" when bonus is mentioned. If there is a strong track record of people in your company maxing their bonus, be sure to point it out.

The final discussion should center on the compensation range for the candidate's position. It's important to remember when people hear a range for compensation, they tend to hear only the high number and forget the low number. If it is not your intention to bring the candidate in at the higher range, address it now rather than later. Share your reasons and explain how your employees achieve increases. When discussing bonuses, describe if they are achievable — a track record of others earning it is the most convincing proof.

What happens when the candidate begins asking for things beyond what was discussed? Assuming your offer is consistent with the pre-offer discussion, then it comes down to a couple of reasons:

  1. The candidate was not authentic in the prior discussion and/or told you what you wanted to hear at the time.
  2. Unforeseen factors have come into play. If so, make sure you understand what they are and how they impact the candidate's decision.
  • A long time ago a very good salesman told me "It's not knowing how to close the sale, but also when to close the sale." You shouldn't make a job offer without preparing the candidate and understanding his or her personal agenda. When you have covered all the bases you will know when it is time to close.

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