Well, I’ve been doing this since 1973 and I’ve seen markets for labor go up and down so many times I probably can’t count them. But when this market is like it is today, and you’re a hiring authority, you better be ready for candidates to accept counteroffers to the job offers that you make them.
Twice this week we had two very senior positions offered to candidates who accepted counteroffers from their present employers. Both of the hiring authorities that we worked with took way too long in the interviewing process. One of them took three weeks and another one took almost 2 months. Each one of them insisted on pursuing only one candidate at a time and, both of them, when they got to a candidate they really liked, wouldn’t interview other candidates as backup.
We try to explain that in this market, a hiring authority should be constantly interviewing even though they think they found the “right person.” But they were phenomenally busy…. Just couldn’t take the time to interview other people… were confident that the candidates they had were going to work for them. Both candidates told both employers multiple times that if they had the chance to take the job they would. Both employers put off making offers for all kinds of ridiculous reasons. Their biggest mistake was that they didn’t continue to interview our other candidates, even though we warned them they needed to have backup. One of them even told us, “look, I just don’t have the time to interview other candidates besides we’re going to hire Jerry. Quit suggesting that I talk to other candidates.”
Well, sure enough, both employers are now back to square one having to interview other candidates. Both of the candidates who were offered jobs took counter offers from their present employers. We had warned both candidates about the disaster of doing that before they got their counteroffers but, of course, they did what they thought was best for them.
It didn’t do any good to rub it in for both of our clients. Saying, “I told you so” or “you should’ve listened to me,” just doesn’t do any good we will start all scratch. We will start all over with them and hope they don’t get “interviewing fatigue” and put the whole thing off longer. Starting all over is really hard to do.
The lesson here is to keep interviewing even if you think you found, “the one.” If the candidates you are interviewing are presently employed be sure to ask them what they will do if they get a counteroffer. (We have scripts available for our clients to use in asking about counteroffers with a candidate.)
Most importantly there are two things. First of all, expect that candidates, who are employed, are going to be offered counteroffers by their present employer. Make sure, if you’re hiring authority, that you get a real good feel for what a candidate is likely to do when that happens. The second thing to do is to move your process along quickly. Time kills deals. The longer a hiring authority drags the interviewing and hiring process out, the more likely the candidate is to not only get distracted by other things and other opportunities but questions the decision-making ability of the person doing the hiring.
I’m not suggesting you hire a candidate during the first interview. I am suggesting that you move the process along quickly. And prepare yourself for the candidate being offered a counter offer. It might be even a good idea to explain to them why that’s not a good idea (we have scripts for that to).