I don’t think I’ve had this happen five or 10 times in 49 years. And looking back on it, it’s usually for crazy reasons. Like a company being sold, a total change in management or poor references after an offer has been made. But, this one takes the cake. And there are lessons all over the place.
This was the vice presidency’s position, for $400,000. My client had been interviewing for six weeks and finally settled on an excellent person. On Thursday, the human resources director calls the candidate and makes the final offer. The candidate says that it looks fine but he’s giving up a lot of stock where he is presently working and he would like our client to make it up. The human resources director gets together with the executive VP, who talks to the CEO and, amazingly enough, they come up with something that, he says, will make him happy.
He then tells the human resources director that he has to talk it over with his wife (mistake number one: he refers to his wife as “the boss.”). He says he can’t make any decision until he talks it over with, “the boss.” He also explains that he has to go out of town Friday and over the weekend to a sports tournament with one of his children, and he may not be able to talk to his wife until Monday. He then calls back the human resources director and explains that he has a golf tournament on Monday and he may not be able to speak to his wife (“the boss”) until late Monday.
He didn’t communicate correctly or the human resources director didn’t understand it, but she communicated to the Executive Vice President that the candidate was playing golf all weekend on Monday and wasn’t going to be able to give them a decision until Monday evening. The candidate claims that he made it clear to the human resources director that the weekend was devoted to one of his kids, out-of-town tournaments and that he and his company were actually hosting a golf tournament on Monday. It was work.
When Monday rolled around, the Executive Vice President was furious. First of all, he couldn’t believe that the candidate kept referring to his wife as, “the boss.” There was a slight miscommunication between the HR director and the executive VP. The executive VP was under the impression that our candidate was playing golf all weekend, as well as on Monday. Our candidate thought that since he had explained the situation to the HR director about going out of town for the weekend with one of his kids athletic events and being a sponsor for a golf tournament on Monday, it would get communicated to the executive VP in just that way. Well, it didn’t.
The executive VP couldn’t imagine why the candidate couldn’t talk to his wife (“the boss” still rankled him) and let them know Monday at the latest. The executive VP just plain old had it with being postponed. He had gone to the CEO and gotten more stock than they originally offered. And when he felt like the candidate had better things to do than decide about the job, he figured there ought to be a candidate available who would be more grateful and committed. We started the search all over.
This is one of the saddest situations I’ve experienced in many years. My candidate missed a phenomenal opportunity. I found the company another really great candidate, so it worked out well for my other candidate and the executive VP.
I’m really sorry for my first candidate. I don’t mind if the candidate loses out on an opportunity for really good business reasons. But this wasn’t one of those situations. I take responsibility here for not encouraging my original candidate to let my client know on Friday, the day after he got the offer.
P. S. Don’t refer to your spouse as “the boss.”