When You Have to Say No, Say It Quickly

A close contact of mine was hiring for a position in his department at a Fortune 500 firm. He had spent a great deal of time wooing one candidate in particular who initially wasn’t sure he wanted to leave his current job or relocate his family but said he might do so for the right opportunity.

After passing several rounds of interviews, it became clear he was the front runner. But the candidate kept asking for more time to make the decision, stalling with more questions, and asking for more in his compensation package, with my contact doing everything he could to accommodate.

Finally, one Friday the candidate said, “All right, I’m there, just send me the offer letter confirming what we talked about.” My contact worked with his human resource department Friday afternoon to get the offer letter out. But on Monday the candidate called to decline saying his wife didn’t want to move after all.


The process had been going on for several months, obviously the possibility of moving had been discussed. “Why was it not an issue on Friday and suddenly it was on Monday?” my contact wondered.


Companies rescind offers, candidates have changes of heart, it happens. But both sides should be prepared to live with the consequences. You know the old saying that a happy customer might tell one person about their experience, but an unhappy customer might tell ten people?


If you can look back at how you handled yourself and assess your actions and behaviors, ask yourself if you were respectful, honest and open with the other party. And if it doesn’t look like it’s going to work out, speak up sooner rather than later. The world is a lot smaller than you think and the person you mess with today could be someone you might need in the future.

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