Timing Your Offer Delivery

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Updated August 24, 2022
Technical Recruiting and Hiring

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This section was written by Jose Guardado.

Once the candidate clears evaluation, and you’ve identified the title, level, and compensation for your offer, you are ready to deliver it. But is the candidate ready to cut off all other interviews and accept your offer? It’s important to know your candidate’s timing preferences and constraints, specifically around competing offers. Coming in too early can hurt your chances, and coming in too late may preclude your ability to even compete.

importantTiming alone doesn’t usually win offers, but it can definitely lose them. A well-timed offer gives your company a chance to compete. It won’t guarantee success, but it can eliminate a guaranteed failure. Companies spend a lot of time and focus on the evaluation and assessment of talent, and once a candidate is determined to be a good fit, they rush to extend an offer. But they may or may not understand their candidate’s schedule or their own odds of success.

Jeff Markowitz, partner at Greylock, uses this method: ask the candidate on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being an absolute “yes,” how ready they are to accept the offer. If the answer is anything but 10, you know you have more work to do, and this is your opportunity to address concerns directly. Many managers won’t extend an offer if they do not have certainty it will be accepted.

An alternative to this timing technique that many hiring managers and recruiters use is the “quick offer”: making a decision and extending an offer to the candidate really quickly after the interviewing process (typically within 1–2 days, but sometimes even on the same day as the final interview). This can communicate confidence and capitalize on momentum, but if the candidate isn’t ready to accept right away, that excitement can wane.

A middle ground is to quickly let the candidate know that you are preparing to extend an offer, and that way keep the momentum going, but tell them you want to work with them to better understand their state of mind and propensity to accept so you can extend the right offer.

Offer Deadlines

controversy When you extend an offer, should it have a deadline or an expiration date? There are differing schools of thought on using timing as a forcing function. Some believe a strict deadline creates urgency and improves the odds of acceptance. And, generally, the longer the elapsed time since an offer has been extended, the less likely it is to be accepted; time can kill excitement.

An exploding offer is an offer that expires if not accepted within a tight timeframe. Anecdotally, an offer is considered exploding if it allows the candidate less than a week to respond,* but the timeframe may be as short as one or two days,* or the offer may even require an immediate response.*

caution Deadlines can sometimes work, but arbitrary deadlines like those in exploding offers can be counterproductive.* They might force a candidate into a premature decision (premature rejections or acceptances are both bad). The pressure of deadlines can make the candidate feel anxious, or give them the impression that the company is behaving unfairly,* and other companies you are competing with might use this to undermine you. Avoid aggressive deadlines and unnecessary pressure around timing.

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