Be Accountable for any Job Offer Rejected

Your hiring manager has locked onto his future team member. The stakes are high and there a no more candidates in the shortlist after 3 months of an extensive search. A search which has cost you time, money and productivity. You put the offer in-front of the “chosen-one” and after a week of back and forth they’ve turned you down, leaving your job offer rejected.

Why was the Job Offer rejected?

The candidate got a great counter-offer, they might have another offer that matches or exceeds yours or they just got plain old cold feet. That’s what happens to top talent in Hong Kong. They’re looking out for themselves and not you or your company.

There are the select few that join a company because of its compelling vision, but in Hong Kong’s rat race everyone has some element where they need to look out for themselves.

You cannot control what happens when someone goes through a resignation process. There is a guaranteed level of unpredictability. Companies are now more flexible to address the potential attrition of their top people. Title and salary are seldom the only weapons. The same can occur when multiple companies compete for the same talent.

How can this be your fault?

Your recruitment process is just that… a process.

So you work with a big company where you do need an element of method and design to ensure that you can hire efficiently to match the rate of internal recruitment demand. What happens is that over time a tectonic shift occurs in the process where in all its speed and efficiency it has become too robotic.

Mistake # 1 – Initial Sourcing and Screening Stage

Many a candidate is leaving your job offer rejected before they even receive it, by forgoing the invitation for a second interview. The first meeting between candidate and employer is often scripted. Your recruitment representative* has lines to read from, they potentially don’t understand the role or what to look for in the potential recruit.

*Recruitment representative in this case is a person without significant selling experience –read why hiring a talent acquisition leader is as important as ever for your business.

Screening is often your first problem. Your company is looking to screen out candidates with flaws and questionable work history. Whilst this part of the recruitment process is important, often there is too much weight attached and time spent focusing on the search for the negative.

An interview should really be a two way street where one’s experience is checked for inaccuracies and falsely presented information, but where candidates are actually encouraged and enabled to display what makes them so great in the first place.

When a candidate is asked why they left every job and to read out their job duties in a chronological order (yes I’ve heard of executive candidates asked about their first job responsibilities and reason for leaving that job), the best talent are already rejecting the idea further interviews, never mind reaching the stage of a rejected job offer.

The Fix:

Set your frontline up for success by having them;

  • Properly educated on the job requirements (not just by looking at a job description). This way, applicants that aren’t relevant won’t take up your time by coming in for an interview.
  • Screen for good attributes as well as flaws. There is an excellent job for everyone. How can you see excellence on display when what you ask and the way you ask it is focused on looking for holes and weaknesses? This is not an interrogation.
  • Run without a script. If your first line interviewers are good they’ll be able to make do thinking on their feet. You might actually inspire some enhanced development in them. If they aren’t comfortable, then either train them or get new ones. Bad interviewers will cost you good candidates.

Mistake #2 – In the thick of it

Many assume that at this stage a bulk of the work is coordination of interviews and the process can run itself. Unfortunately a process that runs itself lacks the personality that you need to keep targeted candidates interested. You likely have sat the candidate down with the hiring manager and some higher ups, you’ve talked about culture and maybe given an office tour, but this doesn’t give a candidate all too much insight into the workings of your business and more importantly the people behind it. The focus on process and efficiency has taken away chances of rapport building and relationship development.

The Fix:

  • Remember, people interview with people. Once you’ve qualified candidates as suitable for the role get them suitable for the culture. In doing so candidates who might ultimately not ‘fit’ will typically disqualify themselves.
  • In the middle stages of filling a mandate keep your team or your recruiter in a pushing and prodding mode. Have them take a deep understanding of the candidate’s motivations as well as push and pull factors.
  • Have the hiring manager focus on rapport building as well as qualifying a candidate’s ability to perform in the job. That rapport can really make a difference at the offer stages.
  • Potential future colleagues should be involved, quite like Pret A Manger’s approach to finding talent at their stores.

Mistake #3 – Job Offer Stage

You’re company isn’t involved enough during the offer process. You’ve spent time and resources to get here, it’s easy to assume smooth sailing ahead and you have faith the selected “one” won’t leave your job offer rejected. Assumptions are how mistakes are made and job offers are turned away. Hong Kong is ripe with talent hungry employers, combine this with the adoption and growth of  “talent management” practices in the city employers know who their best staff assets are. The best employers have a counter-attack planned for these resignation situations. Accepting a counter-offer isn’t instantaneous for a candidate, you as an employer do have some time to get the ball back in your court with a strong counter-counter offer gameplan.

The Fix (it depends on the job offer reject reason):

  • Pre-offer you should know the candidate’s relationship with the current employer and colleagues at the company. Do your research into how their current employer reacts to a top performer’s resignation and plan accordingly.
  • Get into the mind-set that counter-offers or multiple job offers are a reality in Hong Kong, keep your team focused and involved until the day the candidate starts.
  • The rapport developed between hiring manager and candidate should be a weapon at this stage, they have as much to lose as you do if the job offer is rejected. A lunch or coffee between candidate and hiring manager can make a world of difference, or buy you time to bolster your offer.
  • If you are working with a third party at this stage make sure they’re the right one, their value is to fill in the gaps of information that you are likely missing, salary expectations (bottom line), the relationship that exists with a current boss and employer as well as other interviews the candidate is in the process with.

Your recruitment process may be the very problem leaving your job offer rejected or just as bad, interviews turned away. If you are hiring at scale then an element of process is integral to ensuring that your HR department can keep up with internal demand. However don’t let process get in the way of allowing you to provide a personal and human experience for candidates.

Audit your process. Go and find out how much human touch it is lacking. Even try a mystery shopping program, we’ve written about mystery shopping to select your recruitment vendors. There is no harm in working towards the ideal scenario where you never have a job offer rejected.

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