We have all experienced it – make the offer and boom, and your leadership candidate declines. WHAT??? How does this happen? After all, you got verbal acceptance, checked references, and the last thing you know is that the candidate was all in. Or were they? Probably not. Most candidates juggle perceived risk when deciding to change from one company to another. Let’s examine the 3 main fears and how to understand, address, and negotiate through them before you make an offer, ensuring you have the right hire.

Top candidates consider four areas of risk: New Manager Risk (especially if they have not worked

with you prior), New Team Risk, New Product/Service Risk, and Market Risk. In any recruiting

climate, you must address each of these risks and ensure that your opportunity exceeds

what the candidate currently has, or he/she will not move.

New Manager Risk

The 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 you are and a great human you are. You need to build trust to the point that your candidate believes and feels that you are the very best choice they have. It goes beyond chemistry and into work ethic, integrity, trustworthiness, leadership ability, and how well you communicate. Finally, the candidate will assess how you treat them every step of the way in the recruitment process. You need to consistently send the right signals, present an emotionally even persona, and follow through promptly on all promises. Including phone calls, setting up follow-up interviews, and emails.

You cannot take too long to decide whether you like this person. You must perform your candidate diligence in parallel with the candidate’s hiring – or you will lose them. You must communicate continued interest to your selected candidate every 48-72 hours. You should also ask them out socially -like to dinner with their spouse or significant other – so you get a feel for what they are like (and they will get a feel for what you are like) in a more casual setting.

Your process to hire from start to finish needs to be about 8-12 weeks max. If the candidate does not feel important, you will lose them. This conveying 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, openly addressing any concerns you may have will go a long way toward building trust and a strong working relationship.

New Team Risk

The candidate must coalesce with their peers – the people you have in the company at the executive level. It is important that all key stakeholders (maybe even a customer or two) be exposed to your top-selected candidate. It would be ideal if you sent candidates in a short time for everyone to meet and decide if they are a good “fit.” – You want the candidate to share the fit sentiment – and the team and the candidate can see themselves working together constructively. The fit equation must consider communication styles, work ethic, stamina, and alignment. It should be a mutual “feel”.

The New Product/Service Risk

The candidate wants to feel comfortable that the product or service will perform and that their contribution will significantly impact the business. Most candidates want to add something to their resume, meaning that the “been there-done that” candidate will not 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 needs to have a product launch and successful commercialization. A CFO wants to take a company public. You get the point. The CEO is a different animal, 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. The CEO will ultimately join because he feels the board will support him/her and likes the product and the market opportunity.

Market Risk

This is evaluated in three ways: market opportunity size, the 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 the opportunity is real, and is the timing for this product in the market right now or soon?

Top-level candidates will evaluate opportunities in a way that others won’t. They are typically loyal and risk-adverse, want to see a product from start to finish and build strong relationships with their current CEO and team. Your opportunity must exceed what the candidate currently has in a significant way for you to acquire this talent. A strong recruiter can help.