You have an opening for a pivotal role on your team. In the past month, you’ve sought out the top candidates for the position, interviewed the best and brightest of the bunch, and – with input from your hiring team – decided on a clear winner. What’s your next move?
Some companies know how to present an offer and close the deal with finesse and professionalism. Others, unfortunately, do everything right until the last step.

Two recent job offer scenarios from my clients illustrate the difference:

Company A moved quickly following a stellar candidate’s final interview. A couple of days after the visit, the hiring manager called the candidate; he said he was excited about the prospect of working with her and described a couple of unique projects in which she would be able to play a key role. After the call, the hiring manager followed up with an email highlighting both the offer and important points from their discussion. The candidate accepted the job.

Company B took its time after the candidate visited. When the candidate had not heard anything from the company after ten days, he continued to interview with other companies. Then, out of the blue – more than two weeks after the visit – a human resources representative who was not involved in the interview process called the candidate. The representative told the candidate to check his email to review an offer letter. The candidate had lingering questions about leadership changes at the company, which the representative couldn’t speak to. The hiring manager and candidate eventually spoke days later, but it wasn’t enough. The candidate didn’t accept the job.
Here are three key elements to extending a job offer successfully:

1. Carefully choose who will make the call, and strike while the iron is hot. 

Strategically designate a member of the hiring team to reach out to the candidate – ideally the hiring manager. Company A wisely had the hiring manager reach out to the candidate shortly after they met in person and while she was still excited about the job.

Do not ask someone who doesn’t know the candidate well to make the call. Company B utilized an HR rep that didn’t have any rapport with the candidate and it backfired. Further- companies should use this call as an opportunity to learn more if the candidate does not immediately accept. Does he have unanswered questions that could be quickly resolved?

2. Impose a deadline when making an offer. 

Top candidates are likely interviewing with other companies – even competitors. In today’s candidate-driven market, companies should give a reasonable deadline for candidates to make up their mind. Do not allow weeks to pass. Follow up the call with an email reiterating details of the offer.

3. Highlight the path for growth at your company. 

Candidates want to see that the opportunity for job advancement and financial growth is attainable. If the hiring manager is presenting the offer, she could share a success story of someone on the team who was promoted quickly. Talk about salary and bonus, too. Help candidates make an informed decision as quickly as possible.

Even the best candidates can be scared off by a slow process or red flags that may arise during the final stage of the hiring process. Strong communication goes a long way to ensure the top candidate accepts your offer.

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