Sorry, Dale Earnhardt
“We don’t want her if she’s not excited about us.”
No one likes being the 2nd place option. Companies don’t. Neither do job seekers. But is it really that bad?
Ego is a hell of a thing. Even the most grounded, selfless people get their feelings hurt when they’re passed over. Or worse, when they’re still in contention but not the immediate first choice.
They miss the fact that they’re not the only one. There’s a lot of other great people out there, too.
I’ve seen hiring managers get bent out of shape and pull offers, just because the candidate took another interview elsewhere. Sure, sometimes it’s a suspicious, last minute “oh I had something else come up just this morning.” Other times it’s something that was clearly communicated from the beginning.
It’s disappointing when someone else isn’t as excited about what you’re building as you are. But level with yourself: did you sell the candidate as well as you thought you did? And what else are they looking at? Put yourself in their shoes; if it’s another great company, can you blame them?
It works both ways. I’ve also seen job seekers go absolutely nuts when the offer didn’t immediately go their way. “It went great! Good group of people” turns to “what a bunch of idiots, F them” when it’s not a quick yes.
Go ahead. Ask any recruiter you meet about a time a job seekers blew up on them after a rejection. All because they took it personally.
There’s a lot of nuance here:
Was everyone transparent about their search activity? Or their interview process?
Were time frames clearly communicated? Or did the goal posts move?
Accountability check: did you (job seeker or hiring manager) really perform as well as you think you did?
Meanwhile we’ve all taken jobs that were a mistake. And made bad hires. It’s not like we’re flawless in our evaluations.
I’ve been doing this long enough to see where the second place options do work out. Job seekers who got a 2nd shot at a company, joined, and loved it. Companies who hired someone who went elsewhere but later became a great hire.
????But that never happens when your first reaction is a negative one. It’s your choice to make it that way. Or not.