It almost goes without saying that the most important part of any recruiting process is the close. But you would be surprised how many hiring managers (and even recruiters!) don’t give this stage of the hiring process the care and respect it deserves. If you’ve ever made the perfect candidate an offer you were sure they would accept, only to have them unceremoniously turn you down, then you know how important “the close” is to a successful hire.
At the executive level, a strong close only becomes more important. Given that the executive hiring process is often longer and more involved, it is crucial to remain engaged with both candidates and clients in order to reach the end of the process—the close—without losing all that hard-won momentum.
Here are the four strategies we use to close candidates throughout the recruiting process:
1. Begin With The Close
Any recruiter worth their salt has heard the golden rule of recruiting: “Always Be Closing”. While you may recoil from this adage, for fear of sounding like a used car salesman—don’t! It really is true. The offer stage is not the time to begin addressing your candidate’s concerns or look for a way to improve the chances that they will accept the offer. If that’s the case, then you’re probably already out of luck.
Instead, start with the close. In the very first interview, ask what other roles they may be considering, or whether they are in the final stages of interviewing elsewhere. Learn as much about where they are in their job search as early as possible, so that you know how likely they are to accept an offer, should you get that far. You want to know this information as early as possible!
Things to watch out for: Don’t ask your candidate what their current salary is! This has always been a bad habit, but it’s now actually illegal in many places.
2. Address Concerns, Don’t Avoid Them
One of the best ways to ensure that your perfect candidate is ready to accept an offer is to ensure that you have already addressed their concerns about the role. Maybe they are looking for a role that’s located closer to their child’s school, or in a small up-and-coming startup—but they haven’t mentioned those things because they aren’t deal-breakers. They’re just “nice-to-haves” …But those “nice to haves” might tip the scales against you if your perfect candidate finds a role that provides those perks.
To stay one step ahead, ask the candidate early in the process if they have any concerns about the role, or if there’s anything that would be “nice to have” that the role doesn’t offer. Then, when your candidate voices those concerns, you have the opportunity to address them in the offer by including a transportation stipend, company stock, or whatever specific perk might provide that “nice to have” for your candidate. When you present a personalized offer like this, your perfect candidate will be that much more likely to accept.
For reference: If you’re offering the same job in the same area, you’ll need to offer at least a 10-15% salary increase to lure someone away. If the job is the same but in a different location, you’ll need to offer 20-25% more and cover relocation expenses.
3. Shorten The Process
Especially with executive roles, it can be easy to get bogged down in the extensive interview process. You may have 3-4 interview rounds with different individuals to schedule, sometimes followed by meetings with managers, directors, or other high-level team members. That’s a lot of schedules to coordinate, and a lot of people who will weigh in on this decision. This can drag out the hiring process, which can mean bad news for your perfect candidate’s interest in the role.
Combat this by streamlining the process wherever possible. Schedule interviews as soon as you have enough candidates to do so, and if possible, schedule multiple interviews in the same day. Impress upon the hiring managers, board, or whoever is making the final hiring decision that the longer they take to make a decision, the more likely it is that your perfect candidate will become someone else’s perfect candidate.
Nothing kills a candidate’s interest faster than radio silence. If the decision-makers are dragging their feet, or coordinating schedules has become difficult, let your candidate know that they are still being considered! Your perfect candidate isn’t going to sit around waiting for a real answer forever, but just letting them know what’s going on can make a big difference.
Pro Tip: Once you get the go-ahead to make the offer to the perfect candidate, don’t wait! Communicate to them immediately that your team would like to hire, preferably with a phone call, so that they have time to consider before receiving your offer, but don’t spend a moment longer waiting than they have to.
In an ideal world, the final offer should be little more than a mere formality. You’ll have pre-closed the right candidate so well throughout the interview process that you know their answer almost before they do. You’ll have already addressed their concerns, answered their questions, and pre-negotiated the perfect package that will have them signing on the dotted line before they’ve read halfway down the page. If you’re willing to put in the work up front to close candidates correctly, you’ll rarely—if ever—face rejection from the perfect candidate.