When Making a Job Offer, Ask This Critical Question

Recruiting is a sales process. Your goal as the hiring manager is to convince a highly-qualified and successful individual to leave their existing job and come work for you.  Make no mistake –you’re competing against every other company out there trying to land the same top talent.

The moment between making your job offer and receiving the candidate’s answer can be anxiety-ridden and downright frustrating.  Are they taking the job, or not?  Meanwhile, you’ve got fires burning that can’t be extinguished without having this position filled. Waiting for your candidate’s answer is agonizing.

You can completely avoid this waiting game by using a sales technique called the trial close. The trial close is a sales tactic that uses a targeting question to determine the likelihood that your prospect is going to do the deal. Good recruiters use trial closes to feel out their candidates at various stages of the recruiting process, but especially at the point of job offer.

Here’s what it looks like:

“Jennifer, we’re at the point in our evaluation process where I and my team believe that this is a great mutual fit. We’re going to begin the process of pulling together an offer package. Assuming a base salary of $70,000, with on-target earnings of $90,000, and the benefits package that we discussed, is this a position that you would feel comfortable accepting?”

In twenty years of recruiting, I have never had a candidate answer “yes” to this question and not end up accepting the job offer.  On the flip side, if there is any hesitation on your candidate’s part, there’s something off – and you have to figure out exactly what it is.  There are a few common reasons why a candidate will hedge their answer, none of which bode well for you:  

  • They like your company, but they like another company better.
  • Your job is not as compelling as the job responsibilities being offered in another job.
  • They’re nervous about being able to perform well in the role.
  • They’re worried that they’re not going to like your job.
  • They’ve just started looking for a job, and you’re the first offer they’re going to receive, and they want to play the field for a few weeks to see what else comes up.
  • Their spouse or significant other isn’t on board yet.
  • Your financial offer isn’t the best one.
  • There’s some fringe perk or intangible benefit that some other company has that you can’t match.

Find out. The key here is to probe for specifics, no matter the answer. If there is any hesitation on your candidate’s part, there’s something you don’t know. The easiest way to find the answers you’re looking for:

“I sense some hesitation, do you have any concerns that would prevent you from accepting the offer?”

Believe me, if you don’t get to the bottom of the issue and lock it down now — in this conversation — you’re going to be sending an offer and hoping (praying!) that this candidate says yes.
Why put yourself in this position?  Know where you stand before you make the offer. If you determine that they’re probably not going to pick you, at least you can go back to your list of candidates to determine if there’s a suitable number two.