How to be prepared and authentic on closing calls?

A closing call is a call or meeting with a prospective candidate who has cleared the interview process. Its purpose is to convince them to join your team. You’ll likely encounter one if you’ve been a manager for a while. Doing it well will significantly boost your hiring efficiency.

Before the call

Prepare. You get to pick who you work with. Before the meeting, take the necessary time to learn more about the candidate. Go through their resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, or other sources like their blog, Github, etc. Learn about their interests, biases, past jobs, and the cultures at those companies.

During the call

Ask them what they care about most and answer their questions. I used to ramble on about what I thought they would want to hear without giving them a chance to ask their questions. I now start the call by asking, “What are the top two or three things that you care about most at this point in your career so I can best tailor my answers.”

Most candidates want to know the following things. Be prepared to answer them. But like I said earlier, expect to tailor this answer to them.

  • Company culture
  • Your management style
  • What opportunities do they have to grow?
  • How will they be challenged and recognized in their positions?
  • Is Engineering at the table when making decisions?
  • How is tech debt prioritized?
  • Why did you join, and what keeps you there?

Tell the truth with a bit of positiveness. Refrain from falling into the trap of overselling the role.

  • Your moral obligation is to give the candidate your realistic take on the position and the company. When talking about problems that exist, talk about how you would like to solve them and how they can help!
  • You gain trust by being honest! Candidates feel much better about working with a manager who acknowledges problems. Keeping it real and “selling” the role are not mutually exclusive.
  • Lastly, candidates are smart. They know when you are taking them for a ride.

Know the next steps. Usually, a closing call is the last step before the candidate makes a decision. Every situation is different. Be in line with your recruiter on what the next steps are and communicate them clearly to the candidate. Let them know they can converse with more folks before making a decision.

After the call

Nothing to do but wait. Don’t take it personally if candidates don’t accept. It feels like you lost a deal when someone does not join even after you “sold” to them. They consider numerous parameters beyond your control before accepting an offer. It is a profoundly personal decision.

Closing Calls

Other tips

  • If you consistently struggle to hire senior+ level candidates, it is likely because they haven’t found the role challenging. Either you need to explain where the complexity is or question whether a senior candidate is necessary to fill the position.
  • Candidates try to find as much information as possible before accepting an offer. Put your team’s work out in the world. Write posts on your company’s blog, and speak at conferences and meetups. They are surprisingly helpful in closing.
  • If you have an effective internal mobility program at your company, talk about the process and how other folks have successfully navigated through it. Knowing that they can change teams easily if it doesn’t work out comforts candidates.

Inspired by Will Larson’s post on Closing Calls: tell the best version of the truth