We have all experienced it – make the offer and, boom, your C-Suite candidate declines. WHAT???  How does this happen? After all, you received verbal acceptance, candidate references checked out, the last thing you know the candidate was all in – or were they?

Probably not.

When making a leap to a new role, candidates weigh perceived risk from the following four areas. These four areas of risk include: New Manager Risk, New Team Risk, New Product/Service Risk, and Market Risk. Let’s examine these four risk factors and how to uncover, address, and negotiate them before you make an offer, ensuring you a hire.

New Manager Risk:

Most important to address is the new manager risk. Assuming you are the hiring manager – this person is coming to work with you. You need to show them what a great manager and a great person you are. You need to build trust to the point where your candidate believes and feels that you are the very best choice they have. It goes beyond chemistry and into work ethic, integrity, trustworthiness, ability to lead, and how well you communicate. Finally, the candidate will assess how you treat them at every step in the recruitment process. You need to ensure you are sending the right signals, presenting an emotionally even persona, and following through promptly on all promises. You cannot take too much time to deliberate on whether you like this person or not, it is imperative that you perform your candidate diligence in parallel with the hiring of the candidate – or you will lose them. You will need to communicate continued interest in your selected candidate every 48-72 hours. You may want to ask them out socially, for example to dinner (with their spouse or significant other) – so you get a feel for who each of you really are, in a more casual setting.

Your process to hire from start to finish needs to be about 6-10 weeks. If the candidate does not feel important you will lose them. Conveying a sense of significance to the candidate can be as simple as thanking them for their time, following up when you say you will, and communicating the next steps and timelines while they are in the process. Also, addressing any concerns the candidate may have, directly, will go a long way into building trust and a strong working relationship.

New Team Risk:

The candidate will need to coalesce with his/her peers – the people you have in the company at the executive level. It is important that all key stakeholders (consider a board member or a customer) be exposed to your top selected candidate. A good idea is to send candidates in with the team, to allow each to meet, and decide if they are a good “fit”. You want both the team and the candidate to see themselves working together in a productive manner. Communication styles, work ethic, and alignment all need to be considered in the fit equation. It should be a mutual ” good feeling”.

The New Product/Service Risk:

The candidate wants to feel comfortable that the product or service will perform, and that their contribution will make a significant impact on the business. Most candidates want to add something to their resume – that means that the “been there-done that” candidate is not going to be enticed unless you can offer them something to add to their CV.  For instance, a Chief Medical Officer/SVP Clinical wants a product to go from the start in the clinic until approval and market. A Chief Commercial Officer may need to have a product launch and successful commercialization under their belt. A CFO candidate may want to take a company public. You get the point. The CEO is more complex in their thinking, typically loves a challenge, and wants to lead a team to develop a product that impacts the market in a way no other product has to date, or fix a company that is underperforming and create value for every stakeholder. The CEO will ultimately join because they feel that the board will support them and because they like the product and market opportunity.

Market Risk:

This is evaluated three ways – the size of market opportunity, competitive landscape, and timing. Is the market ready for this product/service?  Another factor to consider is whether the candidate buys in. Does your candidate think that the opportunity is real, and is the timing for this product in the market right now or at least on the horizon?

Top-level candidates are going to evaluate opportunities in a way that others won’t.  They are typically loyal and risk-averse, want to see a product through start to finish, and want to keep the strong relationships formed with their current CEO and team.

Your opportunity must exceed what the candidate currently has in a significant way in order for you to acquire this talent.  A strong recruiter can help. Laura and her team specialize in working a very well-defined process to ultimately find you the very best executive talent in life sciences available. We have over 20 years building companies and relationships with the very best in the business