After a lengthy search process, Kathy finally made a job offer. Because every other candidate had already been ruled out, Gerald was the last man standing. Kathy dearly hoped he would accept, she certainly did not want to start all over with the search.
At first Gerald was hard to reach, it took him 24 hours to get back to Kathy just so she could extend the offer (he was traveling). Then he asked for time to think it over, he was not specific about how much time he needed, and Kathy was reluctant to push the issue. Then almost a week later Gerald had a few questions about the benefits. Once he had that information, he made a counter-offer to get a bit more money (to offset the benefit costs), and he also wanted some more vacation time. (Gerald’s negotiating playbook must have been the children’s book “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.”
And then, of course, almost two weeks later, Gerald turned down the offer.
My father-in-law often said “Deals that don’t happen quickly, usually don’t happen.” The longer I work in the executive search business, the more I value that advice. For any position below CEO, I suggest you give candidates no more than 2 days to accept your offer. Then withdraw it and move on.