You made an offer and the candidate gave you a date by which the decision…
By John Borrowman, CPC
Borrowman Baker, LLC, BV Staffing + Consulting
You made an offer, and your candidate gave you a date for a decision. 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. 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.
Maximize your control by keeping communications open with your candidate(s) starting when you begin to interview. Create a hiring timeline and share it with the candidate so you foster the understanding that your process is deliberate and will have a conclusion, and that 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, and that hearing none will lead you to conclude that they won’t come up later. (If they do, you’ll answer them, of course.) Your objective is to not let those questions be a distraction when you want the candidate focused only on the offer.
Arrange to deliver your offer face-to-face, if you can. If you have to make a phone call, arrange to reach your candidate at home so you can have their full attention. Make it clear that you want to make an offer. There’s no problem telling your candidate, “We want to make you an offer.”
Before you make the offer, explain that 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 theirs during the interview process, you can usually ask for an answer within a week or less, depending on the level at which you’re hiring.
Investigate any response other than Yes: “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, remember. 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. Again, your goal 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 likely someone you want in your practice.