A CEO business associate (who I hugely respect) runs an exciting and quickly scaling software company. He is very careful about who and how he hires, and I know his recruiting process is open and supportive.
He had been actively wooing a senior executive from a much larger organization and the process had been moving along smoothly. This included multiple interviews with the executive team, multiple meetings with members of the team he would lead and a vetting by members of the Board. He had provided a verbal go-ahead for the client to put an offer together, a written confirmation which asked for a few small changes to the offer… and then poof!
All seemed well throughout the process, all the ‘buying signals’ were in place, and yet it all fell to pieces when push came to shove.
As you can imagine, the fallout was felt throughout the organization. This included countless lost hours of manager’s interviewing time, dashed expectations, lost opportunity of the candidate’s production in their new role and a feeling of failure, incompetence and rejection on the part of the management team.
Although we all walk into the hiring ‘dance’ with our eyes wide open, the process gets amped up exponentially when we start to fall in love. You’ve bought in to each other and now expectations and assumptions are naturally unfolding. And it’s at that point that you have to work extra hard to allow the candidate to feel comfortable to say ‘no’.
Think of all they have to consider:
As the hirer, of course you want to put your best foot forward. But you need to make it a safe place to be honest. Perhaps you can say something like this:
‘I can only imagine you’re considering a number of other opportunities, as well as simply staying where you are. I understand and respect that completely, so let me try and help you position our company and this role in that context.
Let’s look do a Benjamin Franklin chart and map out the strengths and weaknesses of your various options and see how each of them stack up (It’s a chart of the pro’s and con’s of each role). There may be things about my company that you’re not aware of and I’m always interested in understanding how we stack up against the marketplace.
I want you to be happy and successful. What I never want to have happen is that you come to me after a few months and say that the job isn’t want you had hoped it would be. ‘
This may be a challenge for some, and the impression from the candidate might be that you’re ‘jazzing’ their decision-making process. On the other hand, it forces you to look at the candidates multiple opportunities from an objective standpoint and support them through their process.
As a suggestion, oftentimes using a seasoned and trusted recruiter is helpful in cases like this. As an outsider we’re better able to find how the candidate really feels. We have a view on the marketplace that you wouldn’t have and we’re able to provide a perspective on the role as it compares to other opportunities.
Although recruiters are paid by the clients, and so have a bias to a successful outcome, a truly effective trusted partner will want to make sure long-term satisfaction is achieved and will do everything in their power to make sure both parties are open and honest with each other.
The only thing worse than having a coveted potential leader turn their back on you is having it happen four months into their new role. By sublimating your feelings and allowing them to be open about their thought process, chances are you’ll end up with the right dance partner in the end.
If you feel that your hiring process could use some improvement take a look at Brightlights Peoplescope Service. It provides a 360 look at the entire recruitment experience from an expert outsider’s point of view.