The process of closing an offer with a candidate starts at the beginning of the recruiting process. Waiting until the end to obtain crucial details may put you at a serious disadvantage. As soon as you have decided the candidate may be a good fit for your position, start asking these questions.
- Please tell me about your search activity.
- Are you looking at other positions?
- Where are you in the interview process?
- Can you please describe the position(s)?
- In terms of what you’re looking for, how would you compare our job to that one/those?
- What are the advantages of their job compared to ours?
- What are the advantages of our job compared to theirs?
- Are there any aspects of our position which cause you concern…any red or yellow flags?
- Are there any aspects of their position which cause you concern…any red or yellow flags?
- How would you compare the job responsibilities of theirs and ours?
- What specifically do you like about this other position?
- What specifically do you like about our position?
- Do they offer good opportunity for growth?
- What will the commute be like?
- Is that an issue for you?
- What kind of salary are they offering you?
- Are there other components to their compensation plan?
- What are they?
- At this point in the process, which way are you leaning?
- If you were to receive identical offers today from both them and us, which would you choose?
Ask follow-up questions to get as many details as you can. Respond to their concerns. Sell the advantages of your position / company during this conversation. You may also sell against the other company, but do it mildly and professionally. Do not trash them and do not lie. You could point out that the other company is in a declining industry or that the company is known for having a high turnover rate. Remind them if there are aspects regarding the competition that are counter to something they have told you is important to them.
As the interview process moves along, you should continually assess your competition. Keep asking these questions throughout the process as the candidate’s search activity is likely to change during that timeframe. You may still end up with a tough sell job at offer time, but you will have minimized the chance for unwelcome surprises.
Mauri Schwartz is President of Career Insiders, a career management and talent acquisition consulting firm, and is a leading figure in the San Francisco Bay Area career management community. She is a frequent speaker at conferences, job fairs, and career panels and serves as Adjunct Advisor of Career Services at the Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley.