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Counter Offers: How To Avoid Your Offer Being Turned Down

The last three companies I spoke with in the past week shared a similar frustration with candidates they had recently extended offers to: they lost out to a counteroffer. They were so frustrated with the fact that their candidate who they had identified on their own, interviewed, screened, and had taken all the way through their process had left them at the altar. I know how we avoid this situation with our process when we are engaged to help our clients fill a role. But, let’s say you aren’t working with an executive search firm like ours that deals with this every day. Here’s a few tips that can hopefully help you avoid this disappointment.

1. Make sure you have a defined interview process. One that does not drag out too long or move too quickly. There is a fine line between dragging things out and moving TOO fast where you scare off the candidate. If your process takes longer than 4 weeks, make sure you communicate this to the candidate at the beginning, so they know what to expect. This can contribute to turn downs when candidates self-select out of the process to protect from perceived rejection when the process drags on for weeks and weeks.

2. Talk with the candidate about the reasons why they are attracted to your company. It can’t be about the money. Most candidates have decided to explore your opportunity for reasons other than money such as seeking a better cultural fit, better work/life balance, the ability to work from home, etc. Make sure you know WHY this candidate would consider your offer. If you feel it’s just about the money, just know that you are susceptible to losing them to a counteroffer after investing a lot of time and effort.

3. Don’t just send the offer to them by email.This is key: Schedule a video call to discuss the offer with them FIRST in order to paint a picture for them of their future with your organization. You need to share why you want them to join your team. Make it personal. "I am so excited to extend this offer to you, Kevin. I see you as a future leader in our organization and stepping into greater roles as you grow with us!" Extending the offer in person or via video affords you the benefit of seeing their reaction.

4. Ask them if there is anything their current boss could do to make them want to stay. If the answer is “I don’t know, or I am not sure, or I’d have to think about that” then you have work to do to understand if they are as committed to you as you are to them.

Yes, you can ask them these questions. And you should.


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