Hiring is not like your other work. In your other projects, people notice every mistake and point it out. Every missed deadline gets the attention of upper management (or the Board). Every failure has consequences.

But hiring is like operating in a sensory deprivation tank. You get no feedback at all for long stretches of time. Until the very end, when things often go disastrously wrong.

Let’s say you have an important job to fill. So you start recruiting and get a nice pipleline of qualified candidates going. You’re pleased, the interviews are going well. Life is good. A few quiet months go by and then it’s time to make a hiring decision.

And. then. everything. bogs. down.

  • One of your top candidates suddenly becomes really hard to schedule for a final interview so you had to hold things up until they could be scheduled. You could have chosen to proceed without them, but hey, nobody was complaining about the delay.
  • Just when you are ready to make the job offer, you take that one last look at your budget. You start to worry about what the CFO will say, so you shave a few thousand dollars from the job offer. Nobody will give you a hard time about that, right?
  • Then someone in HR has to draft an offer letter, but they are out sick and when they get back, your job offer is not their priority, so another week slips by. Hey, what are you going to do? Other things take priority over pushing out some paperwork, right?

And before you know it, weeks have blown past with you pinned to the wall, wasting time on unproductive delays. But hey, nobody complained, right?

Except your delays raised serious doubts in the mind of the candidate. They have started to ask themselves dark questions like, “Are they serious about me, or am I their second choice?” And, “Are they capable of making a decision over there?” And, “If this is how they treat me now, how will be be after they start taking me for granted?”

And, of course, you gave the candidate ample time to go get another job offer. So they reject your job offer to go work for someone who made them feel valued and important.

And suddenly you find that your failed hiring project is getting lots of uncomfortable management attention.

OK, so maybe hiring really is just like your other work. I guess I need a new title for this post.


For more perspective on how to make job offers, see How to Make a Job Offer and Negotiate Salary for a New Hire,  Or, for ideas on how to improve your entire hiring process, read our Hiring Guide.