Job offers

Candidates keep refusing my job offers columnist Alison Green answers questions about labor and management issues – all from how to deal with a micromanaging boss how to talk to someone on your team on body odor.

My team has grown after a long period of lack of resources and personnel, but the talent pool in our region is not very deep. As a result, I generally have to do national searches for most positions. This means that I had to work hard to identify serious candidates who would be likely to say yes if offered a position, since we invest a lot of money during the interview process (travel and accommodation costs , etc.) and if an offer is accepted (removal assistance). My process has three distinct stages, culminating with an in-person interview for the finalist(s), a formal reference check and, if all goes well, a verbal offer. Anyone who talks to us in person is connected with a relocation company, offered a property tour with a local real estate agent, etc. – all things that telegraph our interest in the candidate and also help him to think seriously about the practical aspects of relocating to our region.

Obviously, we don’t invite out-of-town candidates for an in-person interview unless we’re already confident that they can do the job, that they’d fit in well with our team and our culture, and that they are as serious about us as we are about them. . But twice in less than a year, I’ve gone through this process with two separate candidates for two separate searches, only to have my offers turned down. In both cases the applicants had expressed enthusiasm for the position and our part of the country (we are in a diverse city with fabulous weather all year round) and yet when I made the offers they declined for vague “personal reasons”. “If they had any questions or concerns about employment or relocation, they never voiced them, although they were given ample opportunity and encouragement to do so. Needless to say, I ended up with a bad taste in my mouth – did they just want a free trip to our beautiful city? Were they trying to take advantage of retention offers from their current employers? Does it even matter?

What are their ethics for accepting in-person out-of-town interviews if they had no intention of taking the job? I personally wouldn’t dream of going all the way to the reference check/verbal offer stage when I knew I wasn’t going to accept an offer – seems like a colossal waste of time and effort. resources for the entity in charge of maintenance, not to mention dishonest.

What suggestions do you have for determining how serious out-of-town applicants really are? I try to be a good manager of my budget and I’m tired of spending money, time and energy on candidates who are not really serious. (By the way, applicants are given information on things like salary and benefits early in the process, so they know how much they would earn in advance and can make a decision immediately if compensation is the problem.)

Two rejected offers in one year is not a lot. Of course, this depends on the total number of offers you make – if you’ve only made two offers and they’ve both been turned down, I can see why you’re worried. But it looks like you’re hiring more than that, and in a context where a lot of your offers are being accepted, I wouldn’t consider it a problem at all.

Some of your offers will be refused. This is how interviews and hiring work!

Sounds like you assume that by the time someone flies in for a final interview, they should know whether or not they would take the job. But this is not the case. Just as you don’t know whether or not you want to hire them at the time and continue to make your own assessments, candidates also make their own assessment and reflection. The point of bringing them in for this final in-person interview is not to be able to make a one-way assessment of it; thus both the parties can determine if they want to work together. Just as your decision will sometimes be no, so will theirs sometimes. But that doesn’t mean it was already a no before the interview.

And there are many possible reasons why this could happen. They might realize once they visit your office that the culture or the energy is not for them. They might find that they don’t like the dynamic they have with the hiring manager or other people they would be working with. They might spend time getting to know your city and realize that they don’t want to move there after all. They might decide to pursue another job that interests them more, or might have several offers to consider, or simply decide that they could earn more elsewhere. They might just conclude that the job isn’t right for them once they’ve completed the entire process. The “personal reasons” they gave you might be true — they might be dealing with a sudden family health crisis, or a divorce, or all sorts of other things.

People refuse offers. It’s a normal thing that happens.

It is true that if someone knows for sure that he will not accept a job, he should not fly off at your expense. But there is no indication that this is happening here.

What you can do, however, is consider what might change for people between their enthusiasm before the interview and their lack of interest after the interview. Is there anything in your culture that people see in person that puts them off, and if so, can you be more transparent about that up front so people can choose for themselves if that not suitable for them? Same thing if they’re put off by a difficult boss or a grumpy team or something else they only see once they arrive for the final interview. You can also ask candidates who decline your offers to provide feedback.

But really, you can do everything right and be a great place to work, and some of your offers will still be turned down by genuine applicants, because that’s how hiring happens. You probably understand how true that is on the other side – that your intentions with a candidate can be quite sincere and you could always decide in the end not to hire them – and it really works both ways. .

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