Executive Hire: Why will a CFO reject one offer and accept another?
You are more in control than you think. In fact, as a hiring manager, you may be responsible for the majority of factors contributing to a candidate’s acceptance or rejection of an offer. Given increased vacancies and a shortage of certain skillsets, being aware of the main components of an interview process which form an individual’s perception can provide you with the competitive advantage required in a candidate-driven marketplace.
Having recently interviewed over thirty CFOs within the FTSE and PE space about their own experience on the candidate side, it is increasingly apparent that it is precisely the experience throughout a candidacy process which bears down most heavily on their likelihood to accept an extended offer, i.e. the softer elements as opposed to black and white facts. The three most pertinent contributors to this experience are:
- Rapport developed between interviewer and interviewee
- The pitched potential for a candidate’s own career progression throughout the vacancy;
- The third component, most often forgotten, is a process which does not detract from the opportunity itself – the smoothness of which is more or less entirely reliant on your interaction and relationship with any third party (HR, external suppliers etc).
Firstly, a few points regarding rapport for its own sake. According to the sample interviewed, nine out of ten CFOs would be more likely to accept an offer where they felt there was more of a connection between themselves and the CEO, even if economic rewards were stronger in another opportunity. Of course, chemistry cannot be synthesised if the organics are entirely absent. However, astute individuals on the candidate side will be particularly alert to certain characteristics of an effective mentor including transparency, pragmatism and collaboration. Clarity on challenges currently faced by the company internally and externally, and a truthful overview by a line manager can mitigate efforts lost during an unnecessarily diplomatic interview process and encourage a platform of honesty.
If we apply the Maslow-Herzberg theory of employee motivation to an interview process, while hygiene factors of location, salary, et cetera need to be present somewhat, it is the progression and perception of self-actualisation which is one of the most pertinent aspects of an offer’s attraction. Regardless of company PR, it is you as the potential employer that needs to assure and excite regarding potential and strategy for progression. Not only are you selling the future possibility for prolonged job satisfaction, you are also affirming your own management style to be supportive and developmental.
With regards to the actual process, the executive-level candidate will be a professional and will expect a smooth, professional process. This is where a line manager’s choice of representative is key. 30% of individuals interviewed may have accepted a rejected offer if their expectations were managed more thoroughly through a more transparent process. The FT reports a revised economic growth of 2.8% in the UK during 2014 and with the recent Tory result; vacancies are up by 33% in London alone. Multiple-offers are a real issue this year on the senior end, and subtleties within an interview process do make all the difference.
Whether a HR business partner or an external search agency, the appointed consultant will be an extension of you: the first introduction to your company as well as an insight as to how well a business is run. Most frequent red flags whittle down to miscommunication to the candidate which manifest in longer, tedious processes or surprises surrounding package. A hiring manager’s organisation is key here; clearly laid out guidelines of realistic budget, desired timing of interview process and non-compromises will equip your business partner to communicate a coherent message to the market and allow the candidates involved to adjust competing processes accordingly. More importantly, provide them with the reassurance that there is structure and reliability to an otherwise uncertain process. Managing expectations is critical to a transparent, successful hire and having this precedence initiated by the hiring manager is crucial.
The hiring space is changing and as an employer on the executive level, holistic involvement across the wider interview process will reduce the likelihood of an overly prolonged recruitment procedure, and will lessen the probability of a largely unanticipated unsuccessful outcome.