Quite a few companies run you through their interview process, send you an offer nestled in a beautifully designed packet, and finish with a recruiter who’ll ask whether you accept the offer. This is the foundation of a hiring funnel, but it’s missing one valuable step: the closing call.
By the end of your hiring funnel, both you and the candidate have already invested a lot of time, and even slightly nudging them towards a “yes” will significantly improve your hiring efficiency. (Another prospect for “most valuable hiring step” is the initial phone screen, as it allows you and the candidate to skip most of the process if they’re unlikely to be the right candidate for your role.)
Despite the closing call being a key step, my experience is that very few companies train their managers on how to close candidates effectively. That’s a shame because it’s a pretty straightforward process that comes down to:
- Offer a closing call: many folks won’t take you up on it, but all appreciate the offer, and the folks who take you up on it are always a good time investment
- Show up prepared: show up on time, be familiar with the candidate’s background, and be ready to articulate why you joined (and are still at) your company. If you won’t prepare for five minutes, then don’t do closing calls; you’ll end up signaling to the candidate that they aren’t a priority
- Ask what the candidate would like to discuss: start every closing call by explicitly asking what they’d like to cover. If you ask, most candidates will tell you directly what they’re concerned about. If you start talking before understanding their concerns, you will waste the closing call’s opportunity
- Tell them why the role addresses their concerns: once you understand the candidate’s concerns or questions, your challenge is to articulate why this role is the best career step for what they’re looking for. The artistry of the closing call is finding the most compelling path between their starting concerns and accepting your offer. Infrequently even art is no salvation, and you’ll come to realize that the role really doesn’t give the candidate what they’re looking for. That’s disappointing in the moment, but it’s far better to realize now than after they’ve joined
- Clarify next steps and offer more time: end the call by explicitly stating the next steps, as well as letting them know you can make more folks available for discussion
If I’m pressed for time to explain these steps, I condense them to two ideas:
- ask for the candidates concerns
- answer them by telling the best version of the truth.
It can be tempting to oversell in the closing process to get someone to accept, but don’t get distracted by the shiny lights; you can only retain talented folks by telling them the truth and framing why the truth is a good situation for them.
Of course, my approach isn’t the only way to run closing calls. Because companies don’t train their managers on closing calls, folks end up developing their own personal style, and you may find a different approach works best for you. As you evolve your closing call, keep truth and authenticity as your north stars. Sometimes folks want to see friction between honesty and accomplishing a particular goal (e.g. hiring this candidate), but the tension fades away once you frame yourself properly (e.g. retaining an effective coworker).