One thing I hear regularly from new clients is frustration at having candidates say “no” to their offers. It’s deflating to invest time and effort to an interview process only to have your top candidate not accept. When that happens, it can leave a significant impact crater inside of the organization and sometimes can damage the company’s reputation as well.
Most people would agree that you should never make an offer unless you are certain it will be accepted. I would add this wacky logic….you should know if your offer will be accepted before your interview process even begins. Ridiculous you say? Hardly.
Here are three simple questions you need to ask your candidates before the first interview ever takes place that will reduce, maybe even completely eliminate, your offers being rejected.
1) DO YOU HAVE A JOB TODAY?
If the person is working today, guess what? They don’t need your job. This is important; it changes the entire dynamic of the interview. A successful outcome in this situation is about this being equal parts of evaluating and selling your candidate.
If you aren’t selling this candidate, directly or indirectly, from the first interview you will not be strongly positioned to have your offer accepted at the end.
2) WHAT IS IT THAT ANOTHER COMPANY OR OPPORTUNITY COULD OFFER YOU THAT YOU DON’T HAVE TODAY?
Some people think this question is the same as, “why are you looking?” It isn’t. Please don’t ask that question. It will often cause your candidate to react defensively, especially those who have a job today.
If the person does have a job today, you must ask this question next. The answer will reveal a tremendous amount about the person and their situation but most important, it will tell you how you need to sell this candidate.
It might also kill the interview (and you’d rather it dies now than at the end). Some people will take this opportunity to trash their current company or boss. If they do, they have done you a huge favor and made your decision really easy.
3) WHERE ELSE ARE YOU INTERVIEWING?
You may have to work to reveal this information but it is critical to your success offer acceptance. If the candidate won’t answer with specifics, at the very least you want to find out how many companies your candidate is interviewing with currently, what those companies do or how big they are and what makes those situations attractive or interesting to the candidate- any details that will help you determine if you have a realistic chance to land this talent.
I’m throwing in two bonus tips here because I’m nice like that…
Bonus 1- Ask how much money do they make? This is not a range. The answer to this question is a specific number, several actually. You need to know base, you need to know target bonus, you need to know w2 from last year. Don’t let your candidate weasel out of answering this question. If you can't afford this person, you want to find out early.
Bonus 2- Know your story. I’m talking about your company story. What makes the company a great place to work, what are the major deals you’ve done, how much have you grown, what about the vision of the executive team, etc.? This is ultimately the stuff that attracts a candidate- the opportunity to work with a company that is well run and going places!
These are not always easy questions to ask this early in an interview process, however, knowing the answers will help you hire your top candidates more often.