You’ve worked long and hard to canvass a variety of industries. You’ve had initial interviews with potential candidates, and conferred with your search firm to narrow it down to an outstanding short list. Today is Final Rounds day – after this, there’s nothing left but to extend an offer to your favourite. So how do you close the deal? Here are a few things to consider:
· Have an offer on paper well in advance of your final rounds. You’ll save huge amounts of time if you and your search committee have given thought to the terms of an offer earlier in the process so that you’re ready.
· Ask your top candidate(s) if they have competing offers. By definition, top talent is in demand. And they will have their choice of role, especially if they’re in multiple search processes at once. Your search firm should understand if this is the case – in addition to knowing a candidate’s underlying motivations – so that they’re truly “in the candidate’s head.” Otherwise, chances are that you’re going to get burned.
· Ensure your search firm has completed comprehensive 360 reference checks. It’s advisable to speak with 4-6 references on the selected candidate (direct reports, peers, direct reporting manager) to give you an unadulterated perspective on their candidacy. These are invaluable and reveal a great deal about a candidate’s past accomplishments, leadership style, potential and any areas for consideration or gaps. This is your search advisor’s job, so hold them to account.
· Complete your background checks (criminal and education verification) as soon as possible. Companies have specific background requirements and oftentimes use third-party service providers for this important step, so line them up ahead of time by providing what they need.
· Keep backup candidates warm. Your search firm has failed you if they haven’t provided you with at least a couple of equally viable options to your preferred candidate. Your adviser should be able to maintain these alternative candidates “warm” and interested while you negotiate with your preferred choice. Get your firm to tell you their approach to this and keep them honest. The worst case scenario is to fall in love with a candidate, only to learn that they’ve got a competing offer, and that your search firm does not have any backups to take their place. Invariably, it leads to relaunches – and that’s no fun.
· Don’t waste time in delivering your offer. Strategize ahead of time with your search firm on the “best” offer, recognizing a candidate’s past compensation, future motivations and key drivers. Then, deliver it to the candidate. In many instances, it makes more sense for your search firm to serve as your emissary and negotiate the offer on your behalf, provided that they keep you informed every step of the way and make no promises to candidates that fall outside of your agreed-upon offer range and terms.
· Go with the momentum and encourage a quick sign-back date: Nobody likes to be rushed, but when it’s right, it’s right. If your candidate is particularly intrigued by your role, take them to dinner just before giving them the offer – and drop the pretense. Tell them what you love about them and why this is the right move. Be open, honest and transparent. The next day, your search firm should deliver your offer and then ask for it to be executed within a week. And then pop some champagne and send your candidate a bottle too.