By John Borrowman, CPC
Borrowman Baker, LLC, BV Staffing + Consulting
Gallatin, TN

You made an offer and the candidate gave you a date by which the decision would be made.  You’ve already agreed to one delay.  Now the candidate wants another week to give you that answer.  What do you do?

Retract the offer!

Sound bold?  It is.  And you might not want to do it.  You have to keep in mind that retracting it is an option, however.

The wiser course, obviously, is to avoid putting yourself in that position.  That requires careful planning and managing of the interview and offer process.  As the employer, you control the process up until the moment you actually make an offer.  At that point, power tips to the candidate.  Your goal is to strengthen your control beyond the point where you might ordinarily give it up.

Start by maximizing your control during the time you do have it.  Keep communications open with your candidate(s) starting when you begin to interview.  Create a hiring timeline before you start and share it with the candidate in order to foster the understanding that the process is deliberate and will have a conclusion, at which point you will be expecting a prompt response should you make an offer.

Put an employee benefits summary (create one if you don’t have one) in the hands of every candidate prior to a second interview.  Make it clear you’re prepared to entertain questions about it, and that hearing no questions will lead you to conclude that none will come up at a later point.  If they do, you’ll answer them, of course.  Your objective is to avoid being expected to answer them when you’re ready to make an offer and you want the candidate focused only on the money issue.

Arrange to deliver your offer face-to-face, if you can.  If you can’t, and have to make a phone call, arrange to reach your candidate at home, so you can have the candidate’s full attention.  Make it clear that you want to make an offer.  You can even use words like “We want to make you an offer.”

Explain that, before you make the offer, you want to know that you’ll have an answer by (name the date).  If you’ve done your homework, and given the candidate every opportunity to do his during the interview process, you can ask for an answer within a week or less, depending on the level at which you’re hiring.

Any response other than Yes requires investigating: “What questions do you still have?”  “What is the obstacle to giving us an answer by that time?”  “If we made the offer, when could we expect your response?”

If the answers you get continue to be slippery, you might not want to make your offer.  It is an option, don’t forget.  Given that you’ve prepared, however, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll make the offer, anyway.  If you do, you’ll want to know as much as you can about what to expect.  Your goal, remember, is to strengthen your control.

If you start with agreement on a response date, and continue to hear requests for delay, you’re justified in retracting the offer.  Someone who consistently makes and breaks commitments is not someone you want in your practice.

John Borrowman