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10 Reasons your Candidates are Getting Spooked... (Even when it it's not Halloween) (Client Blog)

Offering someone a job is undoubtedly the best bit of the recruitment process but things can often go wrong when dealing with the unpredictable animal that is humans; as sudden doubts, third party opinions and even spooky unforeseen events come into play. Below I outline some of the potential pitfalls to be aware of after the offer is made in order to stop your job offer going bump in the night.

1. The offer came too easy

Mick Jagger told us a long time ago that you can’t always get what you want and whilst this isn’t strictly true, as humans our psychology is somehow still tuned to the thrill of the chase.  An offer that comes too soon can often unnerve a candidate into thinking the company are simply desperate to recruit or not serious about a role. Similarly, if the interview process is too short or informal, the interviewee may be put off. A good Recruitment partner will manage the interview process effectively on your behalf outlining the expected timescale to all applicants and make time to question candidates during the initial screening process to check that they are seriously looking to change jobs and not merely “dipping their toe in the water” to see what else is out there. Leaving time to “sell” the role and company during an interview is just as important as thoroughly screening a candidate’s suitability and will add value especially in candidate driven markets. A competency based interview and two staged interview processes will allow for reflection and thought.


2. The inevitable counter offer

When I interview good candidates I always tell them that their current employer will potentially counter offer and they often seem surprised. The reality is that the cost, hassle and overall disruption of replacing and training a new employee is something that business leaders can do without. Whilst a counter offer is not always the right decision in the long term (we’ll leave that for another blog) it’s something that often happens. Whilst good or steady candidates can often be overlooked prior to resigning, an offer from another organisation may result in sudden pay rises, promises of promotion, cosy chats and at worst emotional blackmail to ensure that a suddenly indispensable person doesn’t leave. In times of uncertainty this can be extremely flattering and even overwhelming to a candidate so ensuring the resignation and leaving process is managed through thoughtful and supportive coaching with an experienced Recruitment Consultant should hopefully stop your recruitment process toppling over like a pumpkin in the wind.


3. The other half...

Whilst it’s often a spouse who is directly affected by a change of career, this is not limited to romantic relationships. Parents, friends or even that man they sit beside on the journey home from work every evening can quickly turn into career coaches overnight when consulted about a change of job or career and can often place doubt in a previously made up mind. A good recruiter will keep in touch with a candidate throughout the resignation process to ensure that any doubts and moments of indecision are talked through and lingering worries and anxiety surrounding the uncertainty of a move are alleviated.


4. Your name is mud

Whilst this might not strictly be true it’s important that potential employers manage their public image very carefully, more now than ever with so many platforms across social media where we are more willing and able to share our views. Websites such as allow employees to review organisations and in competitive markets candidates have the choice to vote with their feet. Ensuring that effective, fair, ethical and inclusive HR policies and well-trained management who are equipped to deal with grievances is essential. As is attracting a workforce which reflects an ethical responsible organisation has never been more important. Similarly, if things haven’t been perfect in the past there is no better time to make changes. A good recruitment partner will convey the new message and make any candidates aware of recent changes in leadership or improvements to working conditions which have kickstarted a much-needed change of direction.


5. The curve ball…

“It was all going so well until…” I’ve heard (and said) this phrase more times that I care to recall in my 20 years as a recruiter and whilst we can’t always control every step of the process, having a plan B or C up your sleeve is advisable. There will always be unexpected scenarios where life or fate suddenly intervenes. Sudden illness, bereavement, change in family circumstances or out of area job offers to a spouse can throw a huge spanner in the works at the last minute. Whilst I still haven’t found a working crystal ball, I’ve learnt that a strong, well-managed shortlist offers a backup plan when life intervenes in your best laid plans.


6. Money talks

An honest and knowledgeable recruitment partner should be able to advise you if you are paying enough to attract the right mix of skills, experience and qualifications to your organisation, saving time and money in the process. Referring to the counter offer scenario be aware that employers may suddenly offer more money to stay. In times of economic pressure and rising inflation the temptation of more money may simply be too much to resist. An offer should ideally be 5-10% higher than a candidate’s current offer to mitigate the upheaval of leaving and sufficiently entice them.


7. Location location location

Ideally employees should seek to ensure they can be accessed easily through a mix of public and private transport. Whilst this is not always possible it’s worth bearing in mind that ease of access is important to attract a diverse workforce. A candidate might accept an offer only to realise that the 20 minute walk across a field from the bus stop isn’t going to suit on dark icy winter mornings. Researching bus times and offering car share and ride to work schemes as well as flexible working patterns will help to mitigate transport challenges.

Your chosen recruitment partner should ask for location maps, parking guidance and transport information prior to arranging interviews to iron out any logistical problems.  Offering financial incentives to cover any additional travel costs can also attract candidates.


8. The small print

When recruiting it’s essential that you brief your recruitment partner or potential employee with the full picture.  I have heard many horror stories of candidates flying through the interview process only to be eliminated at the final stage of a screening process such as credit status checks for financial institutions. If this is outlined from the start, candidates are able to raise any concerns with regard to screening, saving time and by airing any potential skeletons in the closet (see what I did there 😊) and avoiding disappointment all round later in the process.


9. Working 9-5…

Dolly might have moaned about her hours back in 1980 but these days traditional working hours are fast becoming a thing of the past even within office based environments and whilst flexibility is of course required it’s worth mentioning any particularly unusual, quirky  or specific requirements with regard to working hours; such as weekend working, early on in the process so that candidates can make an informed decision based on their circumstances.


10. Kidnapped by aliens

Well I did say ten and let’s face it - people are people and sometimes no matter how closely we manage the process they simply disappear off the face of the earth as soon as an offer is made and refuse to answer calls or emails.  A capable recruiter should be able to track these ghosts and if they really have gone into hiding it was probably for the best.  A good recruiter will have a little cry, sip a little wine and re-start the process for you working from a strong shortlist.















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