During the final interviewing process, you may (hopefully) identify one or more candidates who fit most of your criteria. A candidate who is skilled at negotiating will have several alternative job opportunities in process simultaneously, and even if they don’t, they will act as if they do. If you indicate to the candidate that your decision has been made and you are committed to hiring them, you will have increased their negotiating position and the likelihood that they will ask for an improvement to your offer.

Solution:
Your objective, until the offer is presented, is to show positive interest without indicating that you have made your decision. To the extent possible, ask candidates the status of their alternate opportunities, their attractiveness to the candidate and the timing of any other potential offers.

The best approach is to try to keep two or three credible candidates under consideration until an offer is presented and accepted. You must remain ready for the possibility that the chosen candidate will decline your offer in favour of another one, or counter your offer with a request for improved terms. In the event of one of these circumstances, your recruiting alternatives are to move on to a different candidate, or to alter your offer to meet the candidate’s requested terms (or counter with a compromise) or decline the suggested changes but indicate that your original offer remains open for acceptance.

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A single senior level hiring event which fails will, on average, cost a year of progress, recruitment and severance costs and have a negative impact on the organization’s goodwill as perceived by other employees, customers, shareholders and outside agencies.

Larry Smith founded the management search firm Kathbern Management in 2004 after a multi-decade career in senior roles with organizations in the office equipment, communications technology and investment banking industries. Kathbern Management focuses on working with owners and senior managers to “get the right people on the bus”.

While most of Kathbern’s projects have been in North America, others have been in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, West Africa and the UK.

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