Monday, July 03, 2006

Closing the Deal: How to Get Prospective Employees to Sign On

While most people would take a job based on the orgasmic joy of working for the Nike 'Swoosh' or Adi Dassler's three stripes, remarkably, few people decide they want a job based on an ad's description or a headhunter's pitch. Therefore, to bring the best candidates on board, employers need to sell prospective employees not only on the specific opportunity and their company, but also on themselves as a boss.

As a potential hire's impression of you (and your company) begins to form the first time you speak on the phone, from the beginning, you want to do more than simply answer questions - you want to present information about yourself and your company in a clear and exciting way, as employees want to work for someone they can relate to and someone they respect.

Therefore, to make the interview as much about you and your company as about them, don't just jump in and demand to know everything the prospective employee has researched about your company or why they applied. There will be plenty of time for questioning. First, let interviewees get to know you a little by telling them why you joined the company, how you've moved up the ranks, and the opportunities in general at your firm. Paint the big picture — outline your company's dream, not just the prospective employee's job.

Steve Jobs didn't hire Apple's first team of programmers by talking about the ins and outs of software coding. He brought them on board by selling them on his grand vision to change the future of computing. Play up the team spirit at your company, but also tell it like it is. Give an honest assessment of your firm's challenges — and how the skills a particular candidate brings to the table will make the company better able to meet those challenges. Let the prospective employee know there's already a very important niche carved out for them, with interesting and exciting responsibilities.

After you've talked for a while, give short-list contenders a tour of the office. Introduce them to their prospective coworkers. Often job candidates will have questions that are better answered by the people who already work for you. Let your employees be candid.

When you're ready to extend an offer, get excited. Telephone the prospective employee and begin the conversation with congratulations. Make your potential hire feel like 'The Chosen One.' Offer lots of information on the job up front. Tell your top choice what the salary and benefits are, the first time an evaluation or raise can be expected, when the benefits kick in and what the hours are. Be sure to answer any immediate questions. Then back off a little. Suggest the job candidate take 48 hours to sleep on your offer to make the best decision. In the mean time, be certain to return any of the candidate's calls or messages requesting more information.

Follow up your phone offer with a written offer. Make sure all the details mirror your phone conversation precisely.

The best time to make a job offer is Monday morning
If you wait until late in the week, you'll probably have have to wait more than 48 hours for an answer, and you may not hear back before the weekend.

While you are waiting for an answer from job candidate No. 1, don't turn down your second choice. If choice No. 2 calls while there's an offer out to another candidate, simply say you haven't decided yet. When recruiting and interviewing, never make the prospective employee feel like a fall-back choice. If your firm is growing quickly, you may need to make repeat hires - and you may decide to take on job candidate choices No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 sometime down the line.

Job candidates also have friends who might be looking for work. If they have a good feeling about your company, but not the right experience for the job, they might pass the lead onto someone who is more qualified.

Always protect the future you can't yet see.


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