Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Why Hesitate Before Accepting A Job?

Two weeks ago, I published a post on accepting a job gracefully. This post is a follow up.

In all my years of interviewing and making hundreds of job offers there is something I don’t understand.  Before accepting a job, after weeks of interviewing, why do people get an offer and then have to think about it? 


I know there is a school of thought whereby people are somehow taught not to give away their emotions or thoughts.  

But if someone has been interviewing at a company and has seen multiple people, often going back four to six times over a period of weeks, what is the hesitation?  By the time an offer comes, it should be anticlimactic.  Now, I can certainly understand someone saying, "I will accept the job pending the resolution of a couple things we have to negotiate."  But what is it that causes candidates to say, “may I have the weekend to think about it?” 

They should have been thinking about it the entire time they have been interviewing! And the answer should be a no brainer.

I fully understand the need to speak to spouse, significant other or parents before accepting, but the commitment to accept should be there beforehand.  Very few candidates ever say, “I am going to accept, but I want to speak to my  ---- first. I will call right back.”

I am guessing that about half the people who accept jobs do so immediately. It is the other half that I am talking about.

Now, some candidates are not fully honest.  There are issues which they may not have discussed either with the company or with their recruiter.  If they are waiting for another offer to compare, they should say so.  But no job should be accepted or rejected on money alone.  Even if they are talking to multiple companies, they should know in their gut which way they are leaning.  As a recruiter, it is perfectly fair to discuss issues with me and, perhaps, with the potential employer.  Sometimes, something as simple as an extra week of vacation or a title can sway the deal.  But again, vacation, like money, should not really be the deal maker or breaker.  Title should be known up front so when it comes to an offer, it should not be a deal breaker.  If there are other issues, even unstated feelings, they should be discussed openly.    

I had a candidate just recently turn down a really good job for reasons which could have been discussed up front.  She never discussed her feelings or issues.  Then, after getting the offer, it took her another week to say no.  And her reasoning completely blindsided me because she had freelanced for a week and only expressed satisfaction with her interviewing and the people she had met. Surely, it should not have taken a week of freelance and then another full week to think about the offer.  It actually wasn't fair to the company who wanted her to start immediately.

I never try to force a candidate to take a job. If it is right, it is right and doesn’t need me to sell it. Sometimes I will point out why I think a job is right for a candidate.  There are recruiters who browbeat candidates into accepting an offer. When that happens,  they rarely stay for very long, so I find that counterproductive.

People have told me they have hesitated because someone told them they should not let a potential employer know they are too anxious to take a job.  I am not sure what that accomplishes.  

To me the best thing anyone can do is to let a potential employer know they are excited about a job and eager to start.  Accepting quickly sets a good tone for future employment.


  1. Agreed that accepting right away sets the right tone -- if the weekend is needed to consider an offer I immediately think the candidate is waiting for another offer to come in. It makes me reconsider their motives and excitement about the position being offered.

  2. I like to remind candidates that this whole process is like dating. If a Client makes a move or extends an offer, you need act quickly in response or they will begin to feel you are not interested.

  3. Borrowing from Rachel's "dating" comment ...

    Unless my offer came completely out of left field, if I proposed marriage to a woman and she said "Give me the weekend to think about it", I'd be looking for a new girlfriend the next day. Bill Crandall

  4. Paul, a very thoughtful post, as always. Much of this behavior stems, I think, from what has been drilled into our heads by recruiters and mentors forever: go for the offer, full steam ahead, consequences be damned. Then decide if you want it. I don't know that I've ever received counsel to do otherwise from anyone.

    1. Patrick: There is a post I have been thinking of writing, based on some lecturing I do. It is about the purpose of interviewing. Your comment is taken to heart. A lot of people don't give enough thought to the job itself while interviewing - they are too busy trying to get the offer. But the real purpose of interviewing is to gather information. By the time one has his or her last interview, they ought to have determined whether they want the job or not.

  5. Paul, I remember getting an offer on the phone from a branding agency - that YOU sent me to - and starting to reflexively tell the hiring manager I would get back to him the next day. But I stopped and said, "You know what, I don't need to a day to think about it, I'd be happy to accept." There was no down side to that.


I would welcome your comments, suggestions or anything you would like to share with me or my readers.

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