HAVE YOU EVER NARROWED a list of viable candidates down to one fi- nalist who is the perfect fit for
your organization, only to have that can-
didate say, “Hey, wait a minute! What
about my vacation? What about a bonus?
And what about the cost of benefits and
After tons of paperwork and the painful
executive-level approval process, these
questions can put a bad taste in your
mouth. Usually, what the candidate is say-
ing is,“I have this benefit at my current job
or have been offered this by another or-
ganization so I want it from you.”
What is the best way to handle this so
the offer doesn’t go down the tubes? Before
you finalize plans for working up an offer,
profile the finalist’s motivations and current
compensation needs, wants, and concerns.
When compensation, benefits, and relocation creep into the final selection process,
things can get complicated, fast. By using a
highly organized and thoughtful process,
you can gather the information needed to
Patrick B. Ropella
Patrick B. Ropella is president &
CEO of Ropella, the leading executive search and consulting firm specializing in the
chemical and consumer products industries. Ropella
grows great companies through executive search,
leadership transformation and organizational improvement. For more information, visit
or call (850) 983-4777.
His new book, The Right Hire - How to Master the
Art of SMART Talent Management, is available at
Rely on a series of questions to get candidate’s
responses on issues such as compensation, benefits and relocation.
address these important issues before the
offer is made. Cover these questions up-front and you’ll make the right hiring decision and ultimately close the offer.
How do you find answers to these sensitive subject matters? Ask the candidates a
series of questions and explain that it’s in
their best interest to be candid so you can
formulate an offer that works for everyone.
This step is called profiling the candidate.
But understand this is not related in any
way to racial or criminal profiling.
The ideal person to conduct the profiling process is the human resources representative. In a best-case scenario, here is
how the profiling process should work: The
candidate states he’s interested in the opportunity. The HR rep immediately asks,
"Just to get a benchmark for comparison
purposes, can you please give me an idea
of what you’re used to now, from a base
salary and a bonus point of view?"
It’s that simple. Ask the question then
listen. Don’t say another word. Let the candidates stew on it if need be, but let them
answer the question. If you ask the right
question in a professional, no nonsense
and confident manner, you will be amazed
at how often the candidates will start sharing.
Once you have the candidate talking
about his most sensitive issue—his salary—
getting the rest of the profile completed is a
lot easier. Ask additional questions in this
• Does your position include a bonus?
If it does, roughly what do you expect for a
bonus this calendar year?
• How many weeks of vacation do you
A Reason for Change
get now? How many more years must you
work before your next week of vacation is
• Do you have a 401K? If so, how much
does your organization contribute on your
The next subject is the candidate’s motivation for changing jobs. A candidate’s motivation to negotiate, accept an offer, show
up on the start date, and then excel in the
role is just as important as his qualifications. Getting to a candidate’s true motivations is part of aligning for a long-term fit.
Start by asking,“If you were in the mid-
dle of an interview with our organization
and someone asked you, ‘Why are you in-
terviewing with us for this position?’ How
would you answer that question?”
Typical answers may include:
1. Because I was recently laid off, and I
need to take care of my family.
2. Because I‘m unhappy with the leadership at my current organization, my
peers, my job, etc.
3. Because of the reputation of your organization and what I bring to the table. I
think we are an ideal match.
If you repeatedly hear self-centered answers, red flags should go up. Watch closely
to see if the candidate’s answers become
more balanced as the interview process
progresses. Normally candidates’ answers
will shift as they move through the inter-