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Critical Steps to Ensure Candidates Accept Your Job Offer – Part 1

Imagine you are on track to close out the roles you’ve been working tirelessly to fill. You have taken the time to optimise your recruitment process, have written great position descriptions, and candidates have commented on the positive interview experience. But when it comes to making the offer, you’re still experiencing higher than expected rejection rates. It’s gut-wrenching to watch all your hard work go down the drain. But that’s not even the worst part; you still need to fill the roles and will have to start all over again.

At Clicks, we’ve been in the recruitment game for a long time. We know the pain of a rejected job offer. On the flipside, we also have more experience with making successful job offers. We make it our business to position job offers so candidates cannot refuse. In our experience, understanding what the candidate wants and working closely with them through each step in the recruitment process is vital. In this three-part hiring advice series, we outline important steps for hiring success that will have candidates saying “Yes!” to your job offer.

Step 1 – Don’t make a formal offer until you know the candidate will accept

Do not even think about making a verbal or formal offer until you have asked your preferred candidate this question: “If an offer was made, would you accept?” Asking this question will help you understand the candidate’s commitment and motivation. You can then better position your job offer according to what’s important to each candidate.

If the candidate says no to a formal offer, it’s harder to turn them around. A soft close keeps the conversation open so you can both explore how the role matches what they want.

Timing is key

It is best to ask this hypothetical question as soon as you know the candidate is a serious contender. Don’t wait until you have finalised all the steps in your recruitment process. For example, you could ask this question after the final interview or when you’re collecting details for reference checks. Understanding the candidate’s interest level earlier will give you time to turn things around if required.

Be patient and wait

Or, as we say internally, the ‘shut up’ rule. The key is to ask this question and then wait. Don’t be tempted to fill any silence. Whether the candidate pauses or answers immediately with an enthusiastic yes will inform your next steps.

How to respond

If the candidate’s reply is quick and eager in the affirmative, move on to Step 2. If not, hang around. All may not be lost, but you have more work to do.

If the candidate seems hesitant, get more information.

In addition to pauses or an unenthusiastic response, listen out for things such as, “I need some more time to think, can I get back to you?” or “I need to speak to my wife/husband/partner/parents”. You get the gist. The candidate is not willing to commit.

  • Start by reflecting what you perceive. For example, “I detect some hesitation,” or “I’m not sensing much excitement about the opportunity from you”.
  • Allow the candidate to respond and listen to what they reveal. Their answer will provide helpful clues as to what is important to them.
  • Address their concerns openly and honestly and highlight how the opportunity matches what they value.
  • Don’t think you’ve lost them. The candidate could be genuinely interested in the role but just needs to clarify a minor detail or request something you haven’t yet discussed.
  • It’s important to remember everyone expresses themselves differently. For less excitable or expressive candidates, take a fact-based approach. You can ask them to describe what appeals to them about the role.
  • A simple and effective technique is to ask the candidate to rate the job opportunity out of 10 (and what would make it a 10?)

If the candidate says “no,” try to understand why

  • Being told ‘no’ can provide an opportunity to clarify any misconceptions the candidate may have about the role or organisation.
  • Clearing up any misunderstanding could help persuade them to reconsider.
  • Obtaining feedback will help you review your current and future recruitment process.
  • If you have received more than one rejection, this feedback will help you reshape your ideal applicant profile. You may need to move the goalposts.

While you may be eager to fill the role, it’s important not to oversell the opportunity.

Candidates who start may quickly leave if the reality of the role doesn’t meet what was promised. It’s not worth it when you weigh up the cost of training and induction and the impact of their short tenure on your business and team culture. In addition, the turnover can tarnish your employer brand – making it harder to recruit their replacement.

Determine interest levels and motivational fit early. If there isn’t a match, move on. In the long run, you are better off spending more time finding a better fit. By assessing the preferred candidate’s interest earlier in the recruitment process, you still have time to proceed with your second preferred candidate, review the job ad for late applicants, or reach out to a recruitment agency.

We believe there are two more important steps to ensure candidates accept your job offer. Subscribe below, so you don’t miss out on further hiring advice.

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