The formal offer
If the conversation goes well, the best hiring authorities meet with candidates as soon as possible. They know that any candidate they might want will be wanted by others. Most importantly, the longer they put off this meeting after the above conversation the more indecisive they appear.
We can’t tell you the number of opportunities to hire a good candidate that have been lost because the hiring authority felt the job offer was simply a formality and the candidate was going to accept the job and postpone the formal meeting because regular business got in the way. They assumed a done deal, prolonged the time to formally meet, made it appear that the meeting wasn’t all that important, and lost the candidate. (We once had a hiring authority who postponed the offer meeting for two weeks so she could go on vacation. Lots of love, huh?)
The best hiring authorities have a formal offer written for the candidate. When they meet to discuss the offer in detail, they assume the candidate is going to have lots of questions and have prepared the answers to the questions the candidate had in the pre-offer phone call. The best hiring authorities take as much time in this meeting as they need to and are patient with any questions or discussions the candidate may have. They realize how important this meeting is to both of them.
Discussing a formal offer over the phone is nowhere near as effective as meeting face-to-face. It simply doesn’t have the same emotional camaraderie and the “we care about you” feeling. If a company’s HR department has to issue the offer letter, the best hiring authorities will still meet with the candidate and discuss the offer in detail. The best hiring authorities do not let anyone in the company discuss the offer with the candidate except themselves. They leave nothing to chance.
How much time should the candidate have to decide?
If everything has been done correctly 75 percent of the time, the best hiring authorities will get the candidate to execute an offer letter and set a start date during this meeting. However, if the candidate asks, “When do I need to let you know?” the best hiring authorities will explain to a candidate that they need to hear from them within 24 hours about their decision. Maybe under extenuating circumstances they may offer a little more time, such as if the candidate is traveling and needs to discuss it with their spouse, but 99 percent of the time the best hiring authorities tell the candidate they need to know within one day.
The best hiring authorities already have a feel for what the candidate is going to do. The best hiring authorities know that a decisive candidate is going to be able to decide quickly. Anything beyond 24 hours usually indicates that the candidate is going to use the offer to leverage another one, and the best hiring authorities don’t seem to tolerate much of this.
If the candidate insists on more than 24-hours, the best hiring authorities explain that they can’t do that, that they have other candidates they are going to pursue. They reinterate that they need to know within 24 hours. If a candidate cannot do that, the best hiring authorities explain to the candidate that they will therefore pursue the next candidate. End of story! The candidate is either in or out. It’s that simple.
By the way, if the formal offer is written after this meeting, the best hiring authorities review it to be sure that it’s consistent with what was discussed. 15 percent of the time, when offer letters are sent after a formal offer discussion, especially when they are written by the HR department in some far-off city, they aren’t the same as what was discussed in the offer meeting. It’s a quick and easy way to lose an excellent candidate
Set a start date
The best hiring authorities set a start date as soon as possible. They know that the further out the start date is from when the offer is accepted, the more things can happen that are adverse to the situation.
The best hiring authorities never assume anything in the offer meetings. If the candidate accepts the job and sets the start date, they simply prepare themselves for that. If the candidate, for some reason, turns the job down or claims that they can’t decide within the 24-hour time limit, the best hiring authorities are gracious and unemotional about it. Getting upset or angry with a candidate who turns the job down is unwise. The best hiring authorities know that they may try to recruit a candidate again somewhere down the line. They know that it pays to always be nice.
Oh, my! A no show!
No matter what level of position, from the CEO on down, 15 percent of the time a candidate who has accepted an offer is going to call and renege. Sometimes they will do it with grace and style long before the start date. Unfortunately, they sometimes just plain don’t show up with no notice at all. (We agree that’s totally pathetic!)
The best hiring authorities know this kind of thing might happen. One of the ways they prepare themselves for this possibility is to explain to the #2 and maybe the #3 candidates, “We’ve offered the position to another candidate and it’s been accepted. It was a very close decision and you were certainly an extremely good candidate. We did what we thought was best for our organization. The new hire is supposed to start on (date). We expect everything to go well, but if, for some reason, something happens that he or she does not start, I’d like to give you a call. If we might still be a consideration for you, we can pick up the conversation again, if we need to.”
The best hiring authorities hope they won’t need this contingency plan. But just in case, they’ve prepared themselves for it. The #2 and #3 candidates may not be available should this happen, but at least a hiring authority may not have to start all over if it does. We can’t tell you the number of phenomenally successful employees we’ve placed who got hired this way.