9 reasons why I declined the job offer

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The candidate told me the story, why he decided to decline the attractive job offer from one of the big guns in the business. The story started when he one day got a call from a talent acquisition officer of the company.

Here you are, this is for you: Recruiters, HR professionals and hiring managers. You will get lots of learning points in this unbelievable real-life story, why a candidate declined a job offer from a famous brand name in the industry.

Months and months later he were offered the job – but to the company’s surprise, he declined.

He gave me these 9 reasons, which he also courageously shared with the HR Director, who called to ask him why.

  1. I had 6 rounds of interviews. One with the Global HR far far away from Thailand, who even admitted she had never been to Asia and didn’t really understand the culture that seemed so different from her own.
  2. I was grilled with questions, but nobody took the time to explain what the job was like. They did not even ask if I had any questions.
  3. Lots of their questions did not make sense – like why I am leaving my employer. Actually, I was not thinking of leaving; their HR recruiter approached me and convinced me to come for an interview.
  4. Where I see myself in five years? LOL, they could not even tell me where they see their own company in 6 months.
  5. The hiring process was too long, too disorganized. The offer took way too long.
  6. The interviewers did not compare notes, because during the six rounds of interviews they were asking the same questions.
  7. The interviews should not feel like an interrogation.
  8. The people interviewing me also looked tired and stressed.
  9. If you want to hire talent, fix your basics. Treat candidates as people, not as applicants.

Are you surprised? Ever had this experience as a candidate? Perhaps you recognize this experience and these recruitment steps from your own company?

I mean, where does one start to explain the do’s and don’ts in best practice recruitment after reading this scary real-life story?

Let me be very blunt about this. Embarrassing, unacceptable, and amateurish. There is no way you will impress senior executives with that kind of recruitment process. Period.

Too many hiring companies still think that the supply of people (applicants or candidates) is bottomless, and that they can take forever to make their decision.

It’s hilarious to watch the arrogance displayed by some hiring companies, when they call in a candidate five times to interview. Mind you, five times as in five different days. Thai candidates with ten annual leave days have just used 50% of their yearly vacation entitlement to take time off for the interviews.

If you are totally flabbergasted like me, ashamed and angry on the candidate’ behalf, wondering why the top management has not provided proper and professional recruitment processes, let’s look at how world class hiring companies manage this.

Designing an effective interview process

The key word is: process. There is no difference hiring people through a process than it is working with processes in accounting, finance, procurement, quality assurance, and production. Hiring with an effective interviewing process follows these four steps:

  1. Prior to the interview make sure you understand the key elements of the job.
  2. Identify the knowledge, attributes, and skills the candidate needs for success.
  3. Identify the people skills a person brings to the job. This is by far the hardest trait to determine, but by understanding the applicant’s personality and motivation, you are guaranteed to improve your hiring process.
  4. Follow a structured process. This does not mean the entire process is inflexible without spontaneity but that each candidate is asked the same behavioural-based questions.

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail

These famous words are credited Benjamin Franklin, mentioned as a Founding Father of the United States. In a recruitment context, it means that if you don’t take time to understand what the hiring manager really wants, then you are setting yourself up for failure.

You must insist to get an hour with the hiring manager. Having a job profile is fine but far from sufficient to prepare a recruitment plan. Here are just a few examples of questions you should ask:

  • What specific equipment or technology (software) is essential to know in this job?
  • What are the 2-3 major challenges to be faced by the candidate in this position?
  • Define 6-8 deliverables i.e. steps required for on-the-job success. In other words, what must the person in this job need to do to be considered extremely successful in this job?
  • What are the key performance indicators for his job?
  • What needs to be addressed and looked into the first 100 days?

If you’re interviewing someone by asking them hypothetical questions, also called situational or scenario questions, you don’t get the truth, you get speculation. This means that to get a good, accurate picture of their capabilities, don’t ask interview questions along the lines of “what would you do in X situation?” or “if X happened, how would you react?”.

Questions should be reality-based, something similar to “tell me about a time you had to…” or “when this happened in your previous position, what did you do?”

Try to understand what people have accomplished in their career rather than spending the whole interview just talking about yourself and how great your company is.

Hiring is also a selling activity

And always remember that hiring is also a selling activity. If you are meeting so-called passive candidates, which are people typically provided by headhunters, keep in mind that these people have good jobs and are not yet necessarily convinced that they should make a move.

If you feel you have a strong candidate, you need to switch into sales mode. That means you should tell them why the grass is greener on your side of the fence compared to where they are employed now. If you manage this, the candidate leaves convinced about the great opportunity your company can offer.

Candidates should be treated with the courtesy and respect that you would offer to your best customer. Make sure that your receptionist is at her best and welcome the potential new colleague with a smile and Thai greeting.

This helps ensure that the candidate’s first impression of your company is positive. Interviews should have the tone of a meeting, an exchange of ideas, rather than a cross-examination of someone’s background.

And the wake-up call to hiring managers; please remember, a candidate may have no more than honest curiosity to learn more about the position and your company.

If the candidate is not convinced about the opportunity after meeting you, the candidate may decide that s/he may not want to pursue the job. Just as you may decide not to move forward with the person.

Key Performance Indicators for talent acquisition

I am a strong believer in: “What gets measured gets done.” It means regular measurement and reporting keeps you focused — because you use that information to make decisions to improve your results. Some examples:

  • Number of days from HR receives an approved Personnel Acquisition and to presentation of a candidate shortlist to the hiring manager. Some will use 30 days for regular staff but 45 to 60 days for management positions. Another measure is from Personnel Acquisition to the successful candidate’s employment date.
  • Acceptance rate is the percentage of accepted job offers from the total number of job offers extended to qualified candidates. It also means assessing why a job offer is being rejected.
  • How many of the hired candidates came from the first shortlist, which you presented to the hiring manager? The perfect number is of course 100%; because it means you did not have to start a second search.
  • How many of your successfully placed candidates pass the probation period- or not? Of the new employees you hired the past three years, how many (percentage) passed one year? A good target is 80% but with 90% over being excellent.

Tom Sorensen

Tom Sorensen is an executive search veteran with over 25 years of experience recruiting in Asia, Europe, and Africa. He has worked in executive search in Thailand since 2003 and is recognized as one of the country’s top recruiters and most profiled headhunters.