1 Script and 6 Tips for Ensuring That an Offer is Accepted

(Editor’s Note: Welcome to Top Echelon’s series of blog posts regarding scripts for agency recruiters and executive search consultants. During these uncertain times, business development is paramount, as is the relationship that you have with your candidates, clients, and prospective clients. We invite you to also consider using our free training resources, which are listed at the end of this blog post.)

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Your client makes an offer to one of your candidates. This is it! The candidate is going to accept, and you’re going to make a placement!

Or . . . are you?

Offer acceptance is not a sure thing these days. That’s why you have to do all that you can to ensure that the candidate accepts the offer

So, what can we do as recruiters to ensure that an offer is accepted by a candidate? Well, the first step is to set expectations with all of your candidates, and below is a script for doing just that:

“Joe Candidate, for us to move forward, we need to set expectations on how we work together on a go-forward basis.  What is your preferred means of communication: email, cell phone, or work phone?  Cell phone, great.  When is the best time to reach you?  Mornings before 9:00, lunchtime, and after 5:00 p.m.?  That will work for me. P lease understand that when I do call you, it will not be about a trivial issue, it will be very important.  Can we agree on a maximum four-hour time frame for any return calls?  Great.  I assure you, I am working on your behalf, as well as my client’s.  If I don’t meet our agreed-upon time frame, you have the right to fire me.  However, if you don’t honor that agreement, I will assume you are no longer interested in the opportunity, and I will remove you from the process.  Can we agree to proceed in this manner?”

In addition, below are six tips that can help ensure that an offer is accepted:

1. Don’t take it for granted that once you and a candidate have set expectations that the hard work is done.

Life can change in a moment.  Someone gets promoted.  A recruiter contacts your top candidate offering a dream job.  A wife finds out she’s pregnant, which is great news for the couple, but not necessarily for the recruiter.  To do our job well, we must re-qualify the candidate every time we talk . . . because things change.

2. Re-qualifying an in-process candidate is not difficult to do.

Ask questions like, “Last time we talked, you were at a 9 on a scale of 1-10?  Are you still at a 9 or 10?” or “Can you see yourself working for this company in the next two weeks?”  I also find more general inquiries can be instructive: “Has anything changed since the last time we talked?” or “How is your spouse handling all this excitement?” or “What does your spouse think about the new opportunity?”  If you sense hesitation, then it’s your job to go further.  Find out why the interest level is dropping; identify and address objections.  Be ready to take the candidate out of the process if you feel it is going in the wrong direction.

3. A take-away close (letting a candidate know they have been taken out of an opportunity) is one of the strongest closes in the recruiting business.

People generally want what they can’t have.  When they see something slipping away, they often regain waning interest.  That’s why this technique works well in recruiting, buying a new car, or in relationships.  If you or the hiring authority over-inflates a candidate’s ego, you run the risk of relinquishing the power in the process.  Reasonable offers are refused.  The candidate is in control, and that can artificially raise commit numbers.

4. Good recruiters pre-close and pre-qualify, but great recruiters go another step in continually re-qualifying.

The most important conversation you will ever have with a candidate is setting the initial expectations.  The second-most important conversation is the one just prior to the final interview.  This is your chance to get a spoken commitment from the candidate, that he or she will take the job “if all goes well” at the agreed-upon commit number.  This conversation should be thorough and leave nothing open to interpretation.  Go over interview time and place, verify interest level, and the agreed-upon commit number (including permission to negotiate appropriate salary, bonus, vacation time, or benefits).  If at any time during this conversation, you hear or feel the interest level has dropped, go in-depth.  Probe to find out what the objection is and handle it immediately.  Don’t be timid; if the candidate is wavering, consider the take-away close.

5. Fickle candidates are NOT top candidates.

If you’ve addressed every objection, and a candidate won’t commit, stop.  There is a very real possibility an offer will be made, and it will be declined.  Save everyone time, money, and frustration and get rid of the candidate.

6. Recruiters and hiring managers are, in some sense, their brothers’ keepers.

They must be tough enough to eliminate even excellent candidates when there is a lack of commitment at any stage of the hiring process.  When we honor the commandment, “Thou shalt never extend an offer unless certain it will be accepted,” we prove to our clients that we are worthy of their trust and their continued business.  You lose candidates who would have wasted your time . . . and gain candidate control, client appreciation, and more placements.

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Jon Bartos is a premier writer, speaker, and consultant on all aspects of personal performance, human capital, and the analytics behind them. Bartos has served as a keynote speaker at Top Echelon recruiter networking events and is also a regular contributor to the Top Echelon Expert Recruiter Coaching Series of webinars.

Speaking of which, Top Echelon has an extensive training library of free recruitment agency training courses. These courses are recorded versions of Top Echelon’s Expert Recruiter Coaching Series of webinars. These webinars touch upon a variety of recruiter-related topics dealing with both candidates and clients. As always, our goal with these webinars (and corresponding videos) is to help agency recruiters and search consultants make more placements.

Below are links to a few of the training videos by Jon Bartos that are available in our library:

In addition to training and webinars, Top Echelon offers other recruitment solutions. These solutions include the following:

Find out more about the recruitment tools Top Echelon offers to agency recruiters and search consultants!