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Taking the Guesswork Out of Offers

I had a fantastic introduction to recruiting at my old company, where we learned the art of pre-closing. Pre-closing means prepping a candidate to receive an offer.

Think about all the steps that need to happen between the last interview and getting a new hire on board. You have to decide on the offer, get Finance to approve the number, check references, extend the offer and respond to any questions the candidate may have. Maybe there’s a negotiation and some time to make a decision, and finally resignation and agreement on start date. All the while the days are ticking by, you don’t have someone on the business, you’re not sure if they’ll accept, and you may risk other candidates slipping away.

Pre-closing means front-loading as many of these steps as possible to before the offer stage. So that long before we’re official, we know what’s coming, all the questions are off the table, and an answer and start date can be given right away… ideally same day!

This can only happen with transparency and communication. Once a hiring team signals that they want a candidate, we discuss what the offer would look like. This is my opportunity as the recruiter to confirm salary requirements with the candidate, uncover any new developments such as competitive job offers, and get a feel for whether they’re going to accept. Let’s call it an offer preview. I tell them what we’re thinking for a package so they can start evaluating it and bring up any lingering questions.

In tandem, we’re checking references. We’re getting approval from Finance. Nothing’s official yet, but everyone’s moving forward comfortably — getting the details out of the way and planning ahead. Then comes offer day. When I present the offer, I like being able to say, “Great news! It’s just what we talked about. Paperwork is coming through. When can I tell them our decision?” And I like to hear, right then and there, “Sounds awesome, I’m in! I can start in 2 weeks.”

This is not the stuff of dreams. It can and should happen. I’ve often likened offers to marriage proposals. No matter how cat and mouse the company has been up until now, once they decide to make an offer, they want it to be met with enthusiasm and a quick decision. If everybody’s onboard with pre-closing, there’s no need to think about it for several days.

That’s what pre-closing looks like, so you can recognize the questions I’m asking and why. To learn more about the mysterious ways recruiters work, check out this old post: Guide to Working with Recruiters.

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