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Great advice from The Lawyer Whisperer

August 28, 2017
Question

Should employers rescind offers for poorly behaved candidates?

answer
Julie Q. Brush

Question: A candidate I want to hire has acted badly during the offer stage. Should I rescind the offer?

You’re in love. And after an exhaustive search, you have found the hire of your dreams. The only remaining milestone is for this candidate to accept your proposal. But before this happens, your Chosen One has shown you a side of him/herself you have never seen before. A side that’s…not so great. In fact, it’s downright troubling. Inflexible, argumentative, unresponsive, not forthcoming, too demanding, entitled, unappreciative etc. Whatever it is, it’s causing you think twice about this commitment.

And it should.

Candidates reveal most everything you need to know about them during the interview process. Usually when no one is looking…or at least looking too carefully. These are called “tells”. Everyone has them. Everyone shows them. But not everyone sees them. Sometimes they don’t want to see them or sometimes they don’t trust their instincts when they do.

Pulling an offer should not be taken lightly. So when contemplating this action, I recommend that you not act hastily. Instead, conduct a thorough analysis of your situation with the following process:

  • Identify the behavior that’s bothering you. Specifically.
  • Assess the egregiousness of the behavior and whether there could be reasonable explanations for it. If there are, what are they?
  • Reflect back on the interview process as a whole and think about whether this behavior…or any other has occurred before (“come to think of it…”).
  • Assess your own current frame of mind. Perhaps you could be contributing to the situation. Are your current work/home circumstances stressing you out, lessening your tolerance, making you irritable? If so, step back and take a day or two to clear your mind. Then revisit the situation and see if you feel differently.
  • Determine if/how this behavior could manifest itself if this candidate was part of the team. And assess how manageable it would be compared to the other “pros” of the candidacy.

If, after going through this careful analysis, you are comfortable moving forward, then you will have greater peace of mind making the hire. But if you feel strongly and your instincts are telling you to pull the plug, then do it. And don’t look back. The consequences of a bad hire are far greater than avoiding the pain of letting a candidate go and continuing your search for the best fit – even at 1st and Goal. If you’re looking for some guidance on messaging, below is a suggestion:

“Robert, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to this role and how important it is that we find a candidate who is the right fit – in every way. And as this process has unfolded, I’ve come to determine that we don’t have a fit here. Our recent interactions have provided me with the opportunity to re-evaluate the situation and gain some additional insight. And I’ve concluded that this would be a poor culture fit for us both-which is a risk neither of us can afford to take. So after careful consideration, I believe the best course is go our separate ways. You are an extremely talented lawyer and great candidate. And I wish you the very best in your career.”

Undoubtedly, you’ll be asked for specifics as to the reason for your decision. It is valuable feedback for a candidate to have and a great learning moment, but how specific you decide to be is entirely up to you.

Finding that one special hire requires great skill, maturity, self-awareness and above all…courage. It’s a process that isn’t easy to get right. Far from it. Sometimes the process is smooth, sometimes it’s rocky and sometimes it can throw you for a curve. So when you see something amiss, don’t ignore it. Look at it closely. Then trust your gut. If you don’t end up living happily ever after, don’t worry…there are plenty more fish in the sea.

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