Hiring Fail: Why So Many of Us Are Awful at Delivering Job Offers

May 26, 2015

Congratulations — you’ve done all of the work sourcing, screening, and interviewing your candidate for a job that’s been impossible to fill. By this point, you’ve spent hours speaking with the candidate as well as your team and stakeholders to ensure you’ve found the right fit not just for the position, but for your company and the culture, too. The candidate is interested, excited, and ready to commit to the role. You’re thinking you’ve finally nailed this hire. But when you deliver the offer, suddenly, something goes wrong — the candidate declines.

How is it that we can bring candidates through an entire interview process not knowing whether or not they’ll accept the offer we deliver? How is it possible that candidates are surprised when they get an offer from us? It’s simple, really — it’s because we’ve been doing it wrong.

We put such focus on filling roles and filling roles quickly that we often forget about the candidate experience, or worse, we refuse to care. It’s no coincidence experienced hiring managers and recruiters tend to get tight-lipped and refuse to celebrate any new hire early. They’ve been burned in the past and have had to learn the hard way a search doesn’t end until the candidate is sitting at their desk for their first day in office. Even then, you should be constantly trying to impress them and make them feel confident they’ve made the best possible choice by selecting your team and your company.

Job Offer Do’s and Don’ts

There are plenty of reasons candidates will decline a job offer, and many will be completely out of your control. But that’s why it’s so important to make the right decisions regarding the things you do have a say in.  To that end, here are some quick tips on things you should (and shouldn’t) do when delivering candidates your job offer.

DO NOT email it

Honestly, I can’t believe I even have to write this one, but I do. Across the board, on both hiring manager and candidate sides of things, I’m amazed how often I hear, “Well, I emailed it over and I’m waiting to hear back.”

This should never be how a candidate hears about their offer to join your team. You should be setting up a time to connect over the phone, and you should be prepared for the call with as much information as possible.

DO sell the candidate

Don’t start your conversation by drilling your candidate with questions about how they feel. Build them up by telling them how excited you are to discuss next steps, how happy you are to present them with the offer, and that you’d like to use this time to discuss the details.

If you go into these conversations assuming that every candidate will accept (or worse, should be considered lucky to receive an offer from you in the first place) they will immediately feel devalued and doubt their decision. If, as a hiring manager, you’re expressing interest in having them on board, discussing the impact you feel they’ll make, and the potential they have to grow in your organization, they’ll be far more bought in than if you seem disengaged.

DO NOT skimp on the details

Think about the last time you were looking for a job. Didn’t you want to know your bonus package? Weren’t you curious about how frequently you got paid, or when your benefits kicked in, or more importantly, what those benefits were?

You can’t have a conversation regarding a job offer that only discusses the basics of job title and salary. You need to anticipate any and all questions from a candidate. This includes full compensation information (salary, bonus, options) as well as any and all benefit information (yes, candidates really want to know about this stuff).

Also, don’t pass on the extras that make your company more appealing. Talk about vacation time, company perks, remote working flexibility. Even if this has been talked about throughout the interview process, it is all information that candidates value and that they weigh in their decision making process.

DO set a deadline

It’s always a win when a candidate verbally accepts over the phone and tells you they’ll send the signed paperwork over to you ASAP. However, in an increasingly competitive market this happens less and less. While you don’t want to pressure them into making a decision, you do need to stick to your process.

Candidates shouldn’t have endless time to be shopping your offer around to their current company or to other prospects. At the end of the day, they know whether or not they are serious about taking it. Give them a couple of days or let them mull it over through the weekend, but before you get off a call make sure you set a deadline to hear back so you can both move on.

DO NOT lose your cool

Candidates will have questions. Remember, this is a major life change and, at the end of the day, there is risk to their decision either way. Be patient! Take the time to walk them through the offer and stay calm. If a candidate pushes back on certain points, stay collected. If you don’t know the answer to a piece of benefits information, just be honest. If they ask for more information, be honest about where you and your company stand and what you could realistically do for them.

This is your opportunity to showcase how you react to difficult conversations. Losing your cool will help no one and will likely leave the candidate with a bad taste in their mouth.

DO stay engaged

Once you’ve received the signed offer letter, the war isn’t over. Candidates still have to put in their resignation and tell their boss, who is likely not going to be thrilled with the idea of losing them. Don’t be surprised if a counter-offer comes into play or, at the very least, your candidate begins to question their decision. By staying engaged, knowing when these conversations are happening, and following up at appropriate times, you can help ensure your candidates continue to be bought in.

It’s Not Over Till It’s Over

Again, there are many things that are out of our control when it comes to the hiring process. But when it comes to delivering a job offer, we should feel confident we’re presenting the best possible option to our candidates, and we should be doing it in a way that makes it clear how much we want them on board.

Remember: The selling process doesn’t end in the interview, and you don’t have a hire until that person is sitting in their new seat.

Photo by: Ryan McGuire

Recruiter, Sales & Marketing

<strong>Katelyn Lagarde</strong> is a recruiter at <a href="http://www.cloudhealthtech.com">CloudHealth</a>. She was previously a Talent Specialist at OpenView.