You get great news; your candidate is being offered the job! Hooray! Until you speak with the candidate and they are not sure they want to accept the job offer. You wonder how is this possible. They were engaged during the interview process. What went wrong? Many times the reasons why a candidate decides not to accept an offer has little to do with you as a recruiter. What you can learn from this experience is how to build a better relationship with your candidates and minimize last minute surprises.

I once persuaded my 15-year-old daughter to participate in a week-long internship with McKesson during the summer. She has always had an interest in science and as a part of the Women in Technology (WIT) program she would be able to attend an internship and learn about the many facets of the company. What I saw as a great learning opportunity and extra-curricular activity, she saw as giving up of week of swimming, volleyball and excessive TV watching. She had previously participated in similar programs and questioned the benefit. I liked that she did not just accept me signing her up for a program and wanted to know more about it, but I am the parent- so Go! We talked about the pros and cons. We looked at other programs that she could attend. By the end of our discussion she was excited to be participate in the internship.

When we are working with a candidate, just like with my daughter, we must keep in mind that they are human. That is what this is all about- human capital. Recruiters must build and manage relationships, minimize conflict and be flexible.  The goal is to connect talent with potential employers. As the recruiter you may see this as a great opportunity, but the candidate may see it as a risk. So how do you close the deal when a candidate is reluctant?

Empathy: I remember being 15 years old and on summer break. The last thing you want to do is anything school related. Just as I had to share with my daughter that I understood it was her summer break; I also reminded her that one-week out of 12 would not take all her summer fun away.  We also discussed the benefits of networking and learning about career options.

Recruiters must remember that leaving your current job and starting another can be exciting or scary. Depending on the reason for the change can have a definite impact on your decision. Always share with a candidate that you understand their apprehension. Respond genuinely by sharing all the benefits of the opportunity, but respect their ultimate decision.  You may not have the opportunity to place the candidate in the current opportunity, but that does not mean they may not be a better opportunity for them in the future.

Partnering: As a parent we must manage our children’s schedules, friendships and guide them toward the future. It’s not always easy, but it can be a learning experience that you and your child have together. It helps you as a parent and models for your child how to build and maintain relationships.

Once you and a candidate begin to work together it is your responsibility as a talent broker to develop a rapport with the candidate. Although it is a professional relationship, very different than the one with your child, there are still traits that are very similar to your personal relationships. You must develop trust between you and the candidate. With trust comes respect. The candidate and recruiter must respect each other’s time and decisions. Staying in communication and talking through the process will minimize any surprises or misconceptions. A part of the communication process is asking relevant questions. Ask candidates if they are working with other recruiters? Have they gone on other job interviews? Are they in a “curious about the job market” stage or actively pursuing or willing to consider a new opportunity? These questions will help you as you continue to work with the candidate.

Flexibility: I gave my daughter options if she did not choose to attend the week internship. The options were still chosen by me and I led most of the discussion, but I showed her that compromise can be considered and that can lead to consensus.

When working with candidates, being flexible in your schedule and time is important. Most candidates will appreciate you taking a call in the evening and answering their questions, but they will really appreciate when you can openly and honestly discuss their options. Flexibility goes beyond making yourself availability, it encompasses the ability to be adaptive to the situation. If your candidate is struggling with making a decision provide additional resources or options for them to consider. There may reasons you are not aware of why the candidate may be reluctant to take the job. These reasons can include: gender, location, tenure, salary and other factors that a candidate may contemplate, but most importantly as a recruiter you must be consider and address.

As a recruiter it is your priority to keep a candidate-focused approach while working with the candidate through the hiring process. A general interest in candidates can go a long way and prepare you for the possibility that they may not take the job. Making the experience as seamless as possible can benefit both you and the candidate. 

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