Closing That Job Offer

Closing That Job Offer

So, you've been to three interviews with the same company. You've met everyone from the Business and HR Managers, to the CEO for Japan. You're totally confident that you're the chosen one, and your recruiter is telling you that you should get ready for some good news on Monday. Then, on Friday night, the final call comes through on your cell phone, "We're sorry, but you didn't get the job..."

One of the biggest problems I have as a recruiting consultant is helping people close their job offers. Some factors are just simply out of the candidate's control, such as wars, M&A, hiring freezes, etc. However one factor that continues to crop up, especially with senior appointments, is that of overconfidence.

If you're a senior manager, you're probably used to getting your own way. While this is natural on safe territory, and indeed, even during a job interview process it is a valid Westernized strategy to push for the best terms and conditions possible, there is a limit to just how far you can push before the hiring party gets nervous and pulls away. This is especially true here in Japan - even with multinationals.

Knowing when to stop pushing, and when to start selling by attraction is a defining trait in successful interview progression.

So where exactly do you stop pushing and start selling? I think the answer is to be found early on in the interview process - indeed, probably before you even meet the hiring party. Most senior appointments are done through recruiters, so make sure that your recruiter actually qualifies the salary and conditions for you BEFORE you start getting locked into an interview process. Most employers do not react well to what they might see as selfish pushing by a candidate for more benefits or money once the interview process has started. So avoid the risk of creating this perception by getting your recruiter to deal with money and terms right up front.

My advice is that once the recruiter comes back to you with an offer that sounds fair, commit yourself mentally to that, and thereafter don't keep asking yourself "Should I ask for more?" The answer is "no", not unless you want to risk losing the job offer. Yes, you might squeeze an extra JPY 1- 2million out of an employer, but you'll be starting the relationship off on the wrong foot and at worst you’ll be sending a message that you will be a difficult employee and thus scare the hirer away.

Asking about money late in the process isn't the only nail in the coffin though. Overly familiar speech, body language, inappropriate jokes, etc., are also turn - offs. Leave your etiquette guard up all the way through the process, until just after you've signed your employment contract. Just as you wear a suit to reduce the physical appearance objections a prospective employer may have that prevent them from taking you on, your polite presentation is also a 'suit and tie' for your personality.

Later stage interviews in large multinationals are often designed to elicit team buy - in and to probe your personal values and whether you can fit in the team. There is almost no way for you to know what a team of future prospective colleagues is looking for in this process, so you really must start doing some homework to find out what their values and objectives are. If you are senior enough, then I assume that you would have the contacts and relationships to find out what these values are, and to prepare for inevitable questions like, "Do you have any interest in developing new business in competition to XYZ company?" This question could either mean that the team wants to find out whether you are able to stay focused, or whether you can provide stimulus to the rest of the team to start innovating. There is a big difference of intention and thus what your answers should be. A little prior information can go a long way...

As always, my contact details are simply: Looking forward to getting some enquiries...