Top 10 hiring mistakes – #2 – assuming the offer is the end of the process

After going through an exhaustive hiring process, where many resumes were received, a number of interviews completed and reference checks done perfectly, we reach the point where the decision has been made, the candidate has been chosen and the offer of employment is on the table.

We can now put our feet up and wait for the inevitable signing on the dotted line and the confirmation we have a new employee.

Days go past, weeks even, and still nothing from the candidate. They stall and as far as we can see there is nothing that we can see why they haven’t signed.

Eventually, the candidate calls to say that something has come up and they cannot accept the role. We are left stunned and shocked and the realisation dawns that we will have to start the WHOLE process once again.

It is pretty gut-wrenching when this happens, and the thing is it happens far too often. Complacency has set in and what seemed like a sure thing has turned out to be the exact opposite. The hiring process seemingly stopped when the offer was put on the table and the fact there was no active engagement with the candidate during this process is the thing that let’s employers down.

Yet take a look at this from the candidate’s perspective. There are usually three things that are the most stressful for any person: dying, getting married, or changing jobs. So be aware that changing jobs is an incredibly stressful undertaking.

Up until the offer stage, there is a sense of separation between you the candidate and the employer. This ‘keeping at arms length’ persists throughout the hiring process and to you that is somewhat comfortable. However, once the offer comes in, you are faced with some very imposing decisions. You now have a company that wants you to join them. This means that you potentially have to leave your current employer, and no matter what drove you to look for a new role, the fact that you are facing leaving an environment that you know well, people who you know and right down to the routine of heading to and from work, can be very daunting. Added to that the fact you have a new environment, people and routines to adjust to can perhaps be overwhelming to you.

This can lead to second thoughts, dismissing the reasons what drove you to look and causing you to re-evaluate the decision to look. In addition, upon learning of your desire to look elsewhere, your current employer tells you he has authorised the pay rise you were anticipating as a means to make you stay (the oft-called ‘counter offer’). All this is too much and you decline the offer.

What happens here, alongside the complacency, or perhaps because of it, is the lack of communication. As the candidate is going through the emotions around acceptance of the offer, why do employers suddenly stop the communication to the candidate to get them fully across the line? Is it based on perception – that is the employer misreads all the signs from the candidate and perceives all is fine without questioning it? Or could it be fear, insofar as the employer is, surprisingly, afraid of the candidate pulling out of the offer and does not want to engage with them until the first day of employment? Perhaps yes, or perhaps it is other reasons. Regardless, many, many businesses are caught with their pants down because they failed to finalise the hiring process with the basics that saw them successfully negotiate the process thus far.

And it is poor business practice to blame the candidate for withdrawing. This is firmly the employer’s fault and no amount of blaming and hand-wringing will change that.

Remember this: the offer is not a time for complacency. It is a very active time for the employer (perhaps the most active) and those who are actively liaising with the candidate end up getting them in as an employee.


Scott Brown

Principal at Scott Brown Recruitment

Hi, I'm Scott. I am a recruitment expert and small business hiring consultant with over 14 years industry experience. I started my business in 2009 as a pure recruiter, but have morphed it into a consultancy on internal hiring. I love small business and I love what I do, as it really sits well with my passion for the people side of any business. On top of that I am a blogger / writer and speaker on hiring within small businesses.

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Wendy Huang

Wendy Huang , Full Time Blogger and YouTuber at A Custom Blog in 4 Minutes

This article is really interesting Scott, because I've never thought about it either. I also think this post is also versatile. You can probably replace "job offer" with "marriage" and it'll still work :)

Scott Brown

Scott Brown , Principal at Scott Brown Recruitment

Thanks Wendy. Don't worry, you are not the only one that doesn't realise what the offer stage means and how it can go awry. However, my move into relationship counseling is gaining momentum!