Revealed – what a recruitment candidate really needs to accept your job offer

Sarah Cooper

By Sarah Cooper

25 Jan 2018

Revealed – what a recruitment candidate really needs to accept your job offer

So, you have passed the preliminaries. The candidate understands the job opportunity, who they will report to and work with and the general salary package, but before they say yes, what do they really want to know?


After closing hundreds of candidates over the years and consulting with my network, I believe I have a good grasp of the types of questions they ask and what they feel when we get down to the nitty gritty of getting them across the line.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs model has often been used to explain an individual's motivations. This gave me the idea, that perhaps the model could shed light on the subconscious, unspoken questions the candidate actually has. Furthermore, knowing and meeting these needs means we will be closer to making the hire.

1. Self actualisation – can I realise my full potential?

You need to demonstrate to the candidate how you will develop them. Let them know what it takes to be successful and give real examples of employees who have progressed within your organisation. Those who have not only been promoted, but perhaps taken a different career path and met their own career goals.

2. Esteem – will I be recognised?

Not being recognised or appreciated at work is one of the top reasons why people quit. Outline how employees are currently rewarded and how success is celebrated. In addition, show how your organisation values opinions and consults with its employees. Have a good understanding of how the candidate defines themselves through their career and how they like to be rewarded.

3. Social belonging – will I fit in?

Lynn Dowding, an experienced performance coach, sums this up when she reveals that candidates want to know: "Can I be the me I want to be when I’m working here?" When asked about the team, size of department and structure, most of the time the candidate is looking for their place. How will I fit in? Will I be accepted? Will my style and way of working complement the team, or will I stick out?

Share with the candidate how their potential peer group and senior management team work together. This way, the candidate will ask themselves if these are people they are akin to or could potentially work with. More importantly, it's good to talk through the induction process, how people are onboarded and integrated into the workplace, allowing for different personalities and talents which will foster diversity.

4. Safety – am I financially safe? Will this impact my health and well-being?

The candidate needs to be reassured that this company is a safe bet –  that there is a level of job security in this position. While this is never guaranteed and increasingly difficult in the current climate, we need to be aware that each candidate will have their own view on risk. Where you can, share the growth track record or stability of the organisation and your intention and commitment to the position and department.

Conversations around flexibility can sometimes be driven by the candidate’s need to feel safe- that their outside family life commitments, routine, stress and mental health levels will not be negatively impacted by your working culture. Getting to the bottom of why the candidate is asking the question is crucial to meeting their needs and ensuring that your organisation’s expectations can also be met.

This is also where a breakdown of your employee benefit scheme is most relevant. It is good to remember that this is not just a formality, each job has an associated monetary value and meets fundamental safety needs. For those with competitive enhanced schemes that profit share, this potentially also meets the higher level two esteem need as well.

5. Physiological – does the environment in which I work meet my everyday needs?

Will your candidate be comfortable? Is there food on site, or where will I spend my lunchtimes? Is there a water fountain, kitchen facilities? What is the dress code? Is there a gym? What is in the surrounding area like? Once a candidate is asking these types of questions, you know they are now envisioning working with you and see this very much as a reality. Great office design and locations can also meet needs higher up the triangle, but getting the basics right are still key.

Never underestimate the impact they can have on a candidate. In one organisation I worked for, the company operated a desk sharing scheme which was the actual deal breaker for one individual who turned the offer down. The hiring manager did not want to make allowances for the potential new team member and felt that this was an indicator of their potential fit to the team overall.

Which also reminds me the importance of the candidate closing process, negotiating a new starter to your business must be a win-win. Meeting the needs of the candidate also sets expectations and will be a precursor to an individual's motivation and performance. It's essential that expectations are realistic and achievable from the outset.

The worst scenario is not the candidate saying no, but leaving the business within the first year. The cost and impact of a bad hire is considerably high and may well damage the company reputation as well as impact financially.

Interviews are a crucial element of your candidate experience. That's why we've compiled Scientifically proven - the 50 best leadership interview questions a free guide that helps you to avoid making expensive mistakes with your leadership recruitment.

When it comes to critical roles, such as attracting a new member of your senior executive team, your candidate experience is even more important. You need recruitment campaign management that is intelligent, transparent and attracts the best talent to your organisation. Talk to me today about how Connor can do this for you.

Sarah Cooper is head of recruitment at Connor and an experienced in-house recruiter. You can connect with Sarah and keep up to date with her opinions on LinkedIn

Sarah Cooper

Contact Sarah Cooper

Head of recruitment

"Connor is more than a recruitment agency. We're a full-service HR consultancy – uniquely networked and positioned to deliver the right HR recruitment solutions for our clients and our candidates."

Sarah Cooper

I'm happy to receive marketing from Connor