Tech Manager—Making the Offer

Now that the interviews are over, you need to decide if you want to extend an offer. Your time of vetting candidates is nearing an end and you need to make the call. Now is the time to do some last-minute thinking.

I heard a quote, and I cannot remember where I heard it, but it goes something like this, “If you are not sure that the person is the right one to hire, then they aren’t. If you are sure that they are the right one, they ‘might’ be.” What this says to me is that hiring is tough. Finding the right person is not easy. But there are some concepts that help you filter through the choice of adding someone to your team.

Who are you?

In the book “Good to Great” by Jim Collins, he has the concept of “First who… then what.” In other words, you should consider who you have on the team before you define what they are going to do. Collins is the “right people on the bus, in the right seats” guy. You may have heard that term before. When hiring, it is critical. He says that, “in determining the right people, the good-to-great companies place greater weight on character attributes than on specific educational backgrounds, practical skills, specialized knowledge, or work experience.” With tech hires, I like to think of the tech skills as the entry fee. Without those skills, the candidate does not get to second base. Once you determine that the candidate has the raw talent though, you move quickly to character.

So, how do you vet character and good fit? This is tough in the limited time you have with a candidate. You need to translate things you know, into possible character traits. Understand that most people are not very good at this and get it wrong, but it is worth considering. Most of the time, you need to trust your gut feeling about someone on the character issues and being a good fit. But there are indicators.

Know Thyself

Was it Socrates that said that? Anyway, you need to know yourself, your team and you company culture. That is where you are expecting a new hire to fit in. If your firm or team is high energy that tends toward action first and planning later, then a contemplative staffer might have troubles. If you are a planner and a thinker, then someone who jumps into action before they think about root cause might get on your nerves. If you are talking to a square peg, you better know if you are a round hole.

Character and Fit

Here are some actions you may see in an interview and what they may indicate (or not).

  • Overly relaxed – might mean they are disengaged, more kick back than others, or worse case, lazy.
  • Too high strung – might mean that they are tightly wound, jump to conclusions, and get easily angered or insulted
  • Overly nervous – (and most people are a little nervous in interviews) – might mean they do not have the technical chops to handle the job. Might also mean that they do not react well under pressure.
  • Short answers – may mean they are not good at explaining things, giving details, or asking for clarifications
  • Wordy answers – might mean they are blowing smoke, too talkative or covering up some shortcoming.
  • Wandering answer and can’t stay focused on question – might tell you that they have a disorganized mind or (here it comes) can’t stay focused.
  • Over emphasis on some topic – might mean they are not the opposite. If they talk about structure and organization on every question, they may lack resilience, quick thinking, or creativity.

Bottom line – do you want to work with this person every day if you notice some annoying character trait that is not “wrong” just different than you would like? And all of your conclusions might be wrong. Ask others what they noticed, to verify your gut fell.

Rising Stock Price?

I like to think of candidates and their viability similar to stock prices: Are they trending up or trending down? The more you see a candidate and interact, the more you have time to see if you and your team think that they are increasing in value as a candidate. Are they looking better than when you started talking with them, or are they looking less likely to be a good team member? If they are trending up, that is a good thing. The more you see of a good candidate, the higher their “stock value” goes. This is also a good question to ask other interviewers. It is hard for others to give a definitive yes or no on hiring or not, so I try to give them a scale of one to ten, or the stock value question. It shows me what they are thinking, without tying them down if they are skittish about making a call.

Cyber Check

Upfront, I don’t really do this… but others have. They Google the person’s name and see what they get. Others have told me that they check online in Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and maybe even TikTok. LinkedIn is good for checking past employment. The info is out there for anyone to see… so why not go check it out (but I don’t – I guess I am old-school). General rule would be to keep your online presence appropriate, employers are looking. I am, on the other hand, in favor of official background checks run by HR, as mentioned in the last article.

Making the Decision

Who makes the final call? The hiring manager does. I assume that will be you, if you are the one hiring the person. You will consider all the info you glean from the resume and interviews, plus the comments from your team or others that have participated in the vetting. But the final call will be yours. Move along as fast as you can, currently it is a tight job market and folks are getting gobbled up fast. I have seen many good candidates bow out of the running because they accepted an offer somewhere else.

Making the Offer

When you make the decision and extend the offer, put it in writing. If you are physically with them, give them the offer so they can see it. If you are not, email it to them while you have them on the phone or video. I suggest that you make the contact directly with the candidate, not HR. You are still selling your company, your team, and the position. Be enthusiastic (unless you aren’t… but then why are you offering them a job?). You need to keep emphasizing the positives of the person and why they should accept. Tell them why they are a good candidate. Talk them through the offer, if needed, and explain it all. Ask if they have questions. Clarify anything where they might see as fuzzy. Explain the hidden benefits that might not jump out at them. They may be focused on the salary, but there are other reasons why your firm is a great place to work.

Make the salary as high as you can. Do your homework and make sure it is a competitive offer. Some say start off low. I say start off high. Give the person the most you can. If they fit the need and can make a positive impact on the firm, then give them the best offer you can. You do not want to miss out because you saved a few bucks. They should come in with a feeling of satisfaction and a desire to prove that they are worth what you are paying them. Make it the best offer you can.

Give them a start date. Or ask them how soon they could start. Some folks need two weeks or more. Remind them of any company events that are coming up. Let them know about any conferences that they might attend within 6 months or training that you would like to set up for them soon. Talk long range. Act like they are part of the team already and that you look forward to getting to know them and getting started on projects.

Give them a short timeline to reply. They might accept it instantly, but if they don’t, give them a day or two at most to get back to you. In this job market, it is not good to let things linger. This should be a no brainer decision for them anyway. They should already know what the answer is. If they have continued down this road with you, they should be ready to respond quickly. If they ask for more time, I would probably not give it to them. They may be stalling for time, hoping another offer comes in.

Next time we will cover onboarding. Assuming that they accepted the offer (since it was too good to pass up), get everything prepped and ready for them to start work, then anchor them in and launch them toward success.

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