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Would you give candidates a second chance?

PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2016 10:10 am
by ESJ
Hello everyone,

I wonder whether I could canvas some opinions on a question I'm facing in my current job search.

I was recently interviewed for a position in a biotech company that I was convinced by the end of the interview process there was no chance of me getting. I liked the company ethos and the people I met but my skills did not seem to fit well with the positions they had advertised. However I took it as a positive experience, a chance to see "inside" a company and generally something to build on in the future.

Somewhat unexpectedly I was then offered a position although the job description was vague - due, as I found out through correspondence, to my offer being in a different part of the workgroup than they were originally recruiting for. It took several emails back and forth to clarify what exactly the position would be. This, combined with some concerns I had about the location, the hope of an upcoming interview at a different organisation, and a general hesitancy (call it a 'gut' feeling) were enough to convince me to decline the offer, although it was by no means an easy decision. I replied in what I hope was a polite and friendly way - though in hindsight light on specifics.

However I wonder whether I have made a bad decision, that I was looking for a possibly unattainable "perfect" job and therefore did not give this due consideration. Full disclosure: my opinion may be coloured by being rejected by the other organisation, time pressure due to the imminent expiry of my current contract, and finding a lack of positions that interest me in my recent searches.

My question then is would you consider re-offering a job to a candidate that had previously rejected it at all, and what sort of time frame would you consider acceptable (if you think it is acceptable of course!) If so how would you assess that they had the necessary enthusiasm for the job and overcome any misgivings? And for that matter how I can assess for myself that I've really changed my mind and am not simply reacting to circumstances from fear of unemployment.

Thanks in advance for your insights!

Re: Would you give candidates a second chance?

PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2016 11:52 am
by Dave Jensen
Personally, I would never go back to a candidate who rejected an offer. That person is dead in the water for future opportunities. It would have to be a very unusual situation, and a very rare kind of letter with the decline.

It's a shame you turned it down, because the company clearly liked what they saw and then customized a job that fit your qualifications. Those are often some of the best opportunities out there!

Now, in order to get that (admittedly very small chance) offer back, you might want to write a letter which reinforces what you liked about the company, and describe what you were thinking at the time. (I did not have a clear idea of what the job would entail, I've since restructured my career goals and working for a company that I admire like yours would be my goal and I'm willing to start in any kind of position, etc). I hope you get some other feedback here with specifics, but generally those who turn down offers get moved permanently to the "do not hire" roster.


Re: Would you give candidates a second chance?

PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2016 6:22 am
by Ana
I guess you would have to explain them what changed that made you change your mind, and "now I got more rejections so I'm more desperate" doesn't seem like a good argument. What Dave suggests sounds best. And in general I think it would be rare to consider the same person again after they have declined.

Re: Would you give candidates a second chance?

PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2016 10:00 am
by ESJ
Thank you very much Dave and Ana for your advice. I thought it might be of interest to other readers in a similar situation to provide an update.

I got back in touch with the hiring manager and explained that (for the reasons I went into above) I felt I had made a mistake in turning down their offer, and was surprised - and very pleased - to be invited back to another round of interviews about a month later. Unfortunately I was not successful the second time around, I suspect because I wasn't able to convince them that (to echo Ana's point) I wasn't "just more desperate this time".

So I think on the whole the circumstances for an employer to re-offer a declined job would have to be, as Dave said, quite exceptional. A tough lesson to learn for me personally but hopefully a valuable real-world example if this issue crops up for anybody else.

Re: Would you give candidates a second chance?

PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2016 12:06 pm
by PG
I also cant Think of a reason that would make me go back and reconsider someone for a position that they have turned down earlier. If it was a good candidate and I get a new position that is a better fit for what they were looking for I might go back for that new position. IN that scenario going back with a changed mined the first time around might actually be a negative (I know I am a bit late with that advice for the initial poster).

Other learnings from this thread is that you should never assume that you will get an offer for a position that you applied for regardless if you Believe that it is a perfect match. Until you have an offer in hand Always assume that you will not get the position that you applied for and continue your job searching efforts includign networking and also take this into account if you get an offer for something else.

If you are in the lucky situation to get an offer while you also have an application sent in for another position that you would prefer you can try to contact the company that you would prefer working for an tell them about the situation. Hopefully they will then speed up an offer for you if they have you as their favorite candidate. If they cant give you a definite answer Before your deadline with the Company that already gave an offer my advice is again to assume that they will say no.

Re: Would you give candidates a second chance?

PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2016 11:58 am
by Dave Walker
This is quite an interesting thread, and my thanks to ESJ for their update.

In my line of work (scientific sales), it's common to work with the same people throughout your career at various companies when each of your roles keep changing. Sometimes within the same company... it's a small world. I nor my management would not take such a hard line on turning away a "second chance" candidate. Sure it's not ideal, but if the position was still open and we haven't found another candidate, we would do another round of interviews at the least.

I'm a little surprised by Dave and PG's stance -- my theory is that you two are much better at hiring than us mere mortals :)

It's been an eye-opening experience to be on the other side of the hiring table, watching my colleagues spend time interviewing and reading resumes in addition to their normal duties. It can be a real drain. When I was applying for jobs out of grad school, I took solace that finding myself a job was a lot of work, but there was always someone who had it worse: the hiring manager who had to sift through hundreds of candidates and do dozens more interviews.

Re: Would you give candidates a second chance?

PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2016 12:42 pm
by Dave Jensen
Dave Walker,

What was surprising to you about the response from PG and I on the "would we go back to a declined offer candidate" question?

I guess I take a hard line because after all the work of getting an offer ready to extend, only to have it declined, I would be a bit PO'd that we got that far with a person and they weren't really interested in coming to work for us. That's bizarre, because along the way I'd be double checking regularly with the candidate, discussing the pending offer and so on, and something like that would have to come out of left field. If that's the case, I would consider the candidate more than a bit flakey, and we'd pass on them in the future.

I think it all depends on the offer process from the employer. Where they are using a recruiter, there's a good deal of communication that takes place along the way, and this is to sort out whether the candidate is truly interested. It may be different if you just went to an interview for the heck of it (experience? mild curiosity?) and then when you get home, an offer letter shows up in the mail. Now, in that case, the employer shouldn't be surprised if they get a turn-down.


Re: Would you give candidates a second chance?

PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2016 11:45 am
by PG
I agree that a candidate can move around between companies in different positions and as I said in my post if someone turns a specific position down I dont see this as a major issue if that same person would apply for a different position. Of course you cant keep doing this mutliple times but I will accept if you interview for one position and then turn it down if it isnt a good fit for what you are looking for and then apply for a different type of position.

Having said that when I am looking to fill a specific position I want to hire someone who really wants to work in that position. If a person turns it down after the interview and later comes back saying that he changed his mind without a really good explanation my interpretation would be the position I offered was the backup plan for something else. This would also bring a high risk that the person in question would leave relatively soon if hired if offered the opportunity to pursue whatever his first choice was.

Re: Would you give candidates a second chance?

PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2016 2:06 pm
by Dave Walker
Thanks Dave and PG. I understand your replies now, and probably share them more than I disagree. If you get all the way to the offer letter with an applicant and they turn it down, that does hurt. And if you don't get an explanation -- was it something that could have been addressed earlier on? -- that says something negative about them.

I must have been thinking about an applicant leaving in the middle of the process, not at the end, and maybe with an explanation that leaves the door open.

It's not a part of the job search I think often about, but politely turning down a job offer is probably a good skill to have in the long run.