Ricky Gervais demonstrates how not to make an offer in the above clip from the British version of The Office.
This is the ninth in a series of posts on IT management for K-12 schools.
Your interview team has seen several candidates, you have gathered feedback from them, and you’re ready for the next step: making an offer. Here are the important considerations:
- You don’t have to make an offer. Is there anyone in the group who you really want to hire? It’s better to NOT hire someone you are not sure about and continue the search. Not matter the time of year or how desperate you may feel don’t make an offer you are not sure about. Trust your informed intuition, a.k.a. gut feeling. If the person doesn’t feel right for position, don’t make the offer.
- Bad hires cost a lot of money and emotional capital. Making a bad hiring decision is expensive financially and emotionally. Estimates of the financial costs of bad hiring decisions to organizations range from 30% of the new person’s salary to 5 times that salary.
- It’s your decision. As the hiring manager, it is your decision, but some people in the organization my possess veto power, such as the principal, superintendent, or head of school. They can say “no” but they should not be able to say “yes” over your objections. If they do this more than once, look for another job for yourself.
- Avoid analysis paralysis. Don’t let fear of making a mistake put you into analysis paralysis. Be chronically understaffed when you have unfilled positions puts your entire department at risk from overwork and under-performance. And if you are somehow able to maintain high quality standards while being understaffed for an extended period of time, some may conclude that you don’t need the headcount and take it away from you.
- Make a verbal offer. Call the candidate on the phone or meet with them to make a verbal offer. Convey your enthusiasm and eagerness for them to join your team. Some managers like to use a language common amongst sales agents called “the presumptive close,” but I find such language to be off-putting, pushy, and disrespectful. I prefer to listen carefully to the candidate’s response.
- Be prepared to wait, but not long. Many candidates will ask for some time to make a decision. This is reasonable. You have (presumably) taken time to reach your decision and so the candidate must be allowed some time, at least 24 hours, to reach a decision as well. You will be eager for the candidate to commit and even minor delays may lead you to start re-thinking your decision. Be patient, but firm. Give the candidate a deadline and stick to it.
- Negotiate. Be ready to negotiate with the candidate. If negotiations is not your strong suit, find someone in your organization who can help you without undermining your authority. Don’t play the game that so many people identify as the car salesman tactic of needing to always “run this past my manager.” Know ahead of time the maximum salary you can offer and other negotiable benefits. Money is not the only thing you can negotiate about. Remember, you are hiring techies and educators. Access to the latest technology and the ability to to join professional associations and attend conferences may be worth more than cash to many candidates.
- Make a written offer. After verbal negotiations have concluded and you have a vernal acceptance from the candidate, it’s time to get a formal offer letter and, if required by your school, a contract to them. The offer materials should be generated by your HR department with your input. These are legal documents, and you need to make sure that everything is in order. In many schools, only authorized personnel can enter into contracts, so don’t be surprised if someone else needs to sign the offer letter. I suggest sending the offer by a means that will guarantee a quickly delivery and signature of receipt. Instruct the candidate to schedule a conference call with you and HR to review the materials to make sure that everything you have negotiated with them is accounted for. (Remember, you may have other finalists who are “hanging in the wind” that you have not officially rejected. If you have a strong #2 candidate, you don’t want the #1 candidate to take too long in officially accepting the offer.”
- Notify rejected candidates. When, and only when, you have a written acceptance in hand, notify the rejected candidates. I have sometimes found this to be an awkward phase. You have probably invested time and energy into cultivating a group of finalists and they, in turn, have an investment in your school and perhaps even an expectation of an offer. You want these people to remain positive about your school despite the news that you are about to deliver to them. Here are some other thoughts about this phase in the process:
- Candidates may press who as to why they were not chosen. Tread carefully here as you do not want to say anything verbally or in writing that could come back to haunt you should there be a dispute about any sort of discriminatory behavior on your part of anyone in the school.
- Mention something positive, if you can, about their resume or interview that you especially liked. Everyone likes to hear something positive even within the context of disappointing news.
- Do not promise to keep their credentials on file if, in fact, your school does not have a system for doing so.
- If you believe that the candidate was a good fit for the organization if not for this particular job (see previous post on organizational fit) let them know that and encourage them to remain in contact with the school.
I’d really like to hear from readers about other ideas in this area. Comments?
Other posts in this series:
Space: The First Frontier
Writing Job Descriptions
Using Technology to Manage Hiring
Where to Post Jobs
What to Say in Job Postings
Screening Resumes and Letters of Application
Phone Screening Applicants
Behavioral Interview Questions
Who’s on the Interview Team?