When an employer picks up the phone to offer a candidate a job, they generally anticipate an excited reaction. Yet this isn’t how it always plays out. Some candidates hesitate to accept the job offer and ask for time to think the proposal over. Often there is some urgency to fill a role, so my question to you is, how much time should one reasonably allow a candidate to decide if they want the job or not?

The amount of time an employer is willing to give a candidate to decide if they want the job on offer can vary from a couple of days to a few weeks. The general rule of thumb is to allow a candidate a week to make their decision. It is best to be specific about expectations as telling a candidate that you look forward to hearing from them soon may result in a lengthy wait time. Imagine too if another quality applicant were pressing for a response, stating that they had received another job offer however they preferred the role you were offering. Now you’re in a situation where you could potentially lose your preferred candidate and need to select from the remaining pool of applicants. However your second best candidate may also be lost to you. Do you have the luxury of waiting another week or so?  I guess it’s important too to realise that always make your first call to the winning candidate. If they fail to accept the job role, at least you still have other candidates to select from….maybe.

Understandably accepting a new job role can have a huge impact on one’s life. It can for the better or worse alter their finances or affect their family and social time. The candidate needs to be confident that they are making the right decision for their life for at least the next couple of years. It is beneficial for all parties concerned that the new employee begins their job confident that they have made the right decision.

In the face of reality a candidate may actually realise they had not seriously envisioned themselves performing the job and therefore question if they indeed want the role. Their hesitation will be difficult to mask. An employer may benefit by asking if any details surrounding the job need further clarification. No one wants to lose their best candidate because the job role was not effectively communicated. If there are outstanding questions concerning the role it is imperative that these loose ends are quickly dealt with. Likewise the terms of the offer may not be suitable or pale in comparison to another employment offer received by the candidate. Any good hiring manager will be prepared for a multitude of different scenarios and will know hoe can achieve the outcome they’re looking for. If not, the employer themselves could contribute to the delayed start of a new candidate.

As an employer you are not required to grant an extension of time when offering a candidate a job. However if you apply too much pressure and demand a decision immediately you may reveal you are not the type of employer the candidate wants to represent. In any case, they will be asking themselves how reasonable are you likely to be in other situations further down the track? If you do not want to prolong the situation, be open and honest about why. Likewise the candidate will be open and honest as to why they are requesting the extension. If it is because their current employer has anticipated the job offer and made a counteroffer, it is not reasonable for you to deny the request. To do so will lose you the candidate immediately. Remember, they applied for the role because they are looking to leave their current job!

Everything has an expiration date, including a job offer. Yet if as an employer you find yourself in the situation where your candidate appears they will decline the job role, and it’s not because they have a better job offer, do not lose hope. After all, where there’s a will there’s a way. How you manage this situation could actually lead to the result you are looking for. So be flexible and always be prepared with Plan B.

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