Recruitment is a bit of a minefield. Getting it right takes time and sometimes a lot of patience. By following the Axcis Guide to Good Recruitment Practice, you can increase your chances of finding that perfect candidate the first time. In part 5, I talked about effective interviewing. Part six covers the process of negotiations and job offers.
During your interview process, you may have decided to “test close” each candidate who you feel shows real promise for the position. This could be as simple as asking; “If we offered you the role how keen would you be to accept it?” – Or words to that effect towards the end of the interview. The response you get from each candidate can be valuable in deciding who to offer the post to. For example, if you have two candidates who would be equally great for the role, their response to this question can really help you to determine how keen they are. Most employers will want to hire a person who is enthusiastic about both the role and organisation, and who are likely to give their full commitment. Therefore, it can be useful to “test close” your applicants if they show real potential. However, do not do this with all applicants – especially those you know are going to be rejected, as you wouldn’t want to get their hopes up for no reason!
The job offer
Making a job offer can be a sensitive part of the process. Sometimes, you will have a strong desire to appoint an applicant who has other organisations interested in them – and although they have confirmed that they’d be very interested in your post, they may have made similar statements to your competitors. If you want to be the one to bag this fantastic candidate, here are some useful tips for making a job offer which is more likely to be accepted:
Don’t waste time – There is a reason that the phrase “strike while the iron is hot” exists. While you have someone’s interest, you need to capitalise on it and get your offer over to them as soon as your decision is made. If you decide to mull it over for an extra couple of days (or even hours at times), the candidate could well have received a call from another employer they have interviewed with and decide to accept an offer from them. Many candidates will accept the first decent offer they get – especially for temporary posts, so try to avoid wasting any time and get on the phone to them as soon as the decision is made to offer the role. You can always tell them it will be dependent on references/further background or compliance checks.
- Talk to the candidate – Try to avoid just sending out a response in writing as this can come across as very impersonal. “Snail mail” also takes a day or two to arrive, so you’ll lose time by doing this (see previous bullet point!) In an ideal world, you want to create rapport with the candidate and make them start to feel part of your organisation right from the word go, so pick up the phone, have a brief, friendly chat with them and try to generate rapport. This will make the candidate feel at ease and positive about your organisation being a good fit for them. This is often what will help to sway a candidate in your direction if they are torn between two offers.
Probe before you make the offer – Try asking about how their job search has been going? Have they heard back from any other employers they have interviewed with? Are they still interested in your post? By gathering a little bit of information first, you can put yourself in a stronger negotiating position. For example, if they say they have two other offers on the table, you can ask a bit about what the roles are, what organisations they are with and whether the candidate has any reservations about accepting them. You can then use this information to inform your negotiations or decide if you need to review your offer. Try not to be shy about asking these details – if the candidate isn’t keen to share them with you they will soon let you know – just don’t keep pressing on with your questions if it’s clear that it’s making the candidate uneasy. Remember – building rapport is also important!
- Highlight the positives – Remind the candidate what all the good things are about the role/organisation. Remember, different candidates might have different perceptions about what the good bits are! So make sure you listen carefully during the interview process and note down what the motivators are for the role for each of your potential candidates. This can be as simple as asking
them what appeals to them about the post – a question most interviewers will ask anyway. By reminding them of all the good things you have to offer, it may sway them in your direction if they have multiple job offers to consider.
- Decide whether to review your offer – This is a fast decision to make, so it’s a good idea to plan your contingencies before you make the call. For example, if there is some flexibility in the salary being offered, or some of the benefits, have some ammunition in the background ready to sweeten the deal if it turns out that your preferred candidate has more generous offers on the table from competitors. By matching or bettering the salary being offered by your competition, you stand a better chance of securing the candidate.
- Make the offer! – You should now be in a strong position to make your offer. Once you have outlined what you can offer to your chosen candidate, ask them how they feel about it – and listen carefully to their reaction. If they ask for time to think it over, or to wait until they find out the result from other interviews they have been on, try to allow them time to do that, but ensure that you have some degree of time-sensitivity. Some employers will choose to press for an answer straight away and for some candidates that might work well but others might be scared off by being pressurised for an answer, so try to read the reactions of your applicant carefully and give the response you feel gives you the most chance of securing an acceptance from them.
In some instances, candidates may decide to play hard-ball with you and push for a higher salary or more benefits in order to accept your job offer. Your primary concern will be to establish whether they will accept the job without these, or whether they are necessary if you wish to secure the candidate. As every person is different, there is no set rule as to how to do this, but some tips I can offer are below:
- Establish what they want and ask if you can get this for them, whether they will definitely accept the offer. As before, this is a form of test-closing.
- Probe for additional motivators – such as asking something like; “If I can’t get you those things you are looking for, is there anything else we could offer you to encourage you to join our team?” You might need to give some ideas so think carefully beforehand about whether you can offer them their choice of classes to teach, whether you could offer additional responsibilities to justify a higher salary, or whether you could offer alternative benefits if salary is non-negotiable. This could be as simple as a gym membership, a parking space or discounted child care – all things which might not cost the organisation too much but might make a big difference to the candidate.
- Demonstrate that you are working on their behalf – playing the middle-man can sometimes work in your favour. This is because you can position yourself as being “on their side” and tell them you will go to the senior leader and see what you can do for them. Even if the decision rests with you, the harder you appear to work on behalf of your chosen candidate, the more likely they are to feel loyalty to you for your hard work, and hence accept your job. This is based on the law of reciprocation – the more you do for someone, the more likely they are to feel they need to do something back for you. In this case, it will be accepting your job!
- Take time – don’t rush back witth an answer immediately – if you tell a candidate you’re not sure if you can get them a certain perk or salary, then you immediately call them back and tell them you’ve got it for them – it will come across that you’ve not had to work hard to persuade the manager in their favour. By taking a little more time, you give the candidate time to think, and potentially worry that they’ve lost the offer… plus it goes back to the last point – it will seem that you are working harder on their behalf and they are more likely to be satisfied with the offer and accept it.
If you’d rather let someone else do all the hard work
The recruitment process is labour-intensive and time consuming. Many organisations now rely on recruitment consultancies to do the vast majority of the hard work for them – which is why recruitment as an industry is worth over 25 billion pounds and growing year on year. For special educational needs positions, at Axcis, we have an extensive database of candidates with valuable skills and experience. We do the advertising and interviewing, pre-screen interested candidates and negotiate pay on your behalf. We also undertake all relevant compliance checks. So if you’d rather let someone else do the majority of the hard graft, contact Axcis with your vacancy now to see how we can help. Our recruitment service is absolutely FREE OF CHARGE until you find your perfect candidate and want to hire them for a temporary or permanent role. So, if we don’t find you anyone you feel is worth hiring, you won’t pay a penny! So, what have you got to lose?
If you’d like to read more of our series on Good Recruitment Practice, the following articles are available:
- Part 1 – Writing a Job Description
- Part 2 -Writing a Person Specification
- Part 3 – Writing a Job Advert
- Part 4 – Shortlisting
- Part 5 – The Interview
- Part 6 – Negotiations
- Part 7 – Compliance and Induction