A reader writes:
On July 31, I interviewed for a job as a sales manager. My interview was with the CEO, senior VP of sales and marketing and the VP of human resources. All interviews went great and I was told the next day that everyone was impressed and they would like to make me an offer.
Since then, the hiring manager has told me four times “we are finalizing the offer and you will have it no later than tomorrow, next day at the latest.” Each time, the next day came and went with no follow-up until I would reach out a few days later to enquire about the status. The latest came this morning. I received an email telling me the offer was being worked on last night, would be reviewed this morning, and I’d have it by noon. I still haven’t seen anything and as usual, no phone call or email follow-up.
Major red flags are flying, as I’m shocked at the lack of professional courtesy in that I would have expected some sort of communication when each of the four offer dates were missed. If and when the offer finally arrives, how should I decline it? I’d like to give them a piece of my mind but know I shouldn’t burn any bridges.
Yeah, the thing about giving people a piece of your mind in situations like this is that it actually makes it easier for them to dismiss what you’re saying than if you’re more subtle about it.
If you just tell them they’re unprofessional and you’re shocked by their disorganization and lack of courtesy, you’ll put them on the defensive and make them think that while their own behavior wasn’t perfect, yours is worse. (I’m not saying yours actually would be worse — just that that’s where their thinking is likely to go.) And then your point will be lost, so you don’t want that.
Instead, I’d keep it polite and matter-of-fact. For instance, you could say, ”The process of getting the offer to me raised some concerns for me about how things work internally there. I understand these things can take time and other priorities can get in the way, but I was surprised that I kept being told I’d have it within a day or two and then days would go by without me hearing anything. Can you tell me a little about what was going on behind the scenes to cause that?”
And assuming you do turn down the offer (which it sounds like you’re set on doing), you could say something like, “I’m a big believer in communicating with people, especially when a timeline is going to be longer than we originally discussed. I think this probably isn’t the right fit, on either side.”
Or, if it’s more your style, you could skip all that and just jump straight to: ”I appreciate the offer. But at this point, the lack of communication during the offer process convinced me that this isn’t the right fit. But I wish you luck with filling the position.”
I tend to prefer the first, if only because it makes it clearer that the problem isn’t just they didn’t communicate with you, but rather that they made you a series of specific promises that they apparently took so lightly that they didn’t even bother acknowledging when they were breaking them.