You’ve done the work, and you know the type of candidate you want to hire. You’ve conducted dozens of interviews and are on the precipice of making that final hiring decision.
You want to slam on the gas pedal at this stage and send an offer — you’re ready — but this is a moment where it’s beneficial to verify your decision.
In this post I’ll talk about the verification steps at the end of your hiring process, deciding on your final candidate, and strategies to help you close the deal.
Trust But Verify: Conduct Reference & Background Checks
Verification steps matter. Yes, conducting reference checks and ordering background checks take a little extra time and money, but they are worth your investment. Think about the cost of skipping these steps and finding out later that this person was a bad (or even devastating) hire.
Reference checks are short conversations with people in a candidate’s professional network. I recommend a strong bias towards former supervisors.
Supervisors know not only what it’s like to work with this person (like coworkers do) but they also understand all aspects of their performance. They’ll have insight into what it was like to coach them and can validate the strengths and weaknesses that you learned about during interviews. Ask for their advice on how you can be a great manager for this hire.
Consider conducting criminal background checks (in compliance with all applicable state and federal laws) at the end of your hiring process. This is a safety check to shake out any obvious skeletons in the closet that could impact your business.
Background checks are often done right before or directly after the offer stage. At CareerPlug, we initiate a background check after the offer is signed. We dictate in our offer that employment is conditional upon passing the background check.
There are plenty of companies that facilitate these types of background checks: Universal Background Screening and Accurate are two of CareerPlug’s partners that many of our applicant tracking system clients use in their hiring.
On a compliance note, conducting reference and background checks can help protect your business against potential negligent hiring claims. Like having a structured hiring process, these verification tools indicate that your company has done its due diligence in ensuring the safety of employees and clients.
It’s Showtime: Make the Hiring Decision
How do you know you’re making the right hire?
Before you rush to offer the right candidate a job, the last step in your hiring process should be reviewing the candidate’s qualifications and behaviors against what you said you were looking for in the Ideal Candidate Profile.
You should defend the hire, whether it’s just to yourself or to your team. At CareerPlug, we have an internal review step just for this purpose. The hiring manager defends their final candidate to our Leadership Team.
As a hiring manager, you want to be able to answer these three questions:
- Ability – Can they do it?
- Motivation – Will they do it?
- Culture Fit – Will others do it with them?
This step catches your blind spots and ensures the hire fulfills the most important criteria. It’s been an instrumental step in our own hiring process and kept us focused on not only hiring for the skills we’ve prioritized for the role, but hiring in line with our core values. If you find that you are eliminating candidates at this step, it’s time to reevaluate your hiring process to ensure it is elevating qualified candidates.
Yes, this step takes time and energy. But again, the wrong time to find out that you made a bad hire is after they’ve started the job.
Can You Start on Monday?: The Offer Stage
Take your foot off the brakes: it’s time to close the deal.
Make sure you have your offer package ready to go, including benefits and compensation information. A few notes on navigating compensation:
Do your homework. Use available (and free!) compensation resources like Indeed, Glassdoor, or Payscale to place your role within the current market.
Remember to take external equity (how the role pays compared to other companies) and internal equity (how the role pays compared to other similar positions at your company) into account.
Talk about compensation upfront. Avoid surprises — for both you and the candidate — by communicating openly about pay early in the process. I recommend putting the compensation in your job posting and asking during the phone screen, “This role plays X, does that align with what you’re looking for?”
Lead with your best offer. At CareerPlug, we make our best offer and don’t negotiate, which I recommend.
We see this as communicating openly. We don’t play games with candidates by rewarding ones who ask for more money at the offer stage and punishing those who don’t. This practice can have a disparate impact on women and members of minority groups. I’ve consistently heard feedback from candidates that they love this approach! It’s not only a win-win for both us and the candidate, but it helps set our employment brand apart.
If possible, prioritize having offer conversations face-to-face. If you can’t have an offer conversation in person, then have it on the phone — email is the last resort!
Take a cue from generations of successful salespeople and close the deal in person. No matter what the candidate decides to do, a face-to-face meeting allows you to talk through details, answer questions, and spot hesitations that you can address in the moment.
Just like during the rest of the hiring process, in the offer stage you should:
- Communicate openly with candidates
- Highlight your benefits and company culture
- Move quickly
It’s also a good idea to ask late-stage candidates how they’ve been feeling about the position and if they have any other opportunities on the table. Not every candidate will be candid here, but this gives you the chance to address concerns before the offer stage or speed up your process if they have other offers that need a decision.
- Conduct reference checks for every hire. Trust but verify that you are making the right hiring decision.
- Build an internal review step into your hiring process. Before you make an offer, purposefully review the candidate against your Ideal Candidate Profile.
- Step up your candidate experience when making an offer. Identify one thing you can change in how you make offers today that will enhance the experience (and help lead to a “yes”).