How do you rescind an offer of employment?

by Emily Douglas22 Sep 2018

It’s always a nice feeling to offer a candidate a role in your organization – like welcoming in a new member of the family. You’re relying on your instincts and tip-top recruitment process to sort the wheat from the chaff, the top talent from the slackers and pinpoint your future business leaders.

But, even with a rigorous hiring system, months of interviews and competency tests – something you can get it wrong. Perhaps you learned something unsavory about the candidate – or maybe you just can’t afford the extra staff; there’s a variety of situations that may make you re-think your job offer.

So, what exactly do you do if you find yourself in the uncomfortable position of having to rescind an offer of employment?

Legalities
First off, let's begin with the legalese. Essentially, you're allowed to withdraw an offer for a variety of reasons – but that doesn’t mean there won’t be any consequences. Always consult an employment lawyer before making any rash decisions and enquire about what the potential legal ramifications of taking back an offer will be. Where possible, it’s likely that you can make certain modifications to the offer – such as decreasing salary or making the role part-time – which may mean you don’t have the rescind it at all.

Little white lies
You can withdraw a job offer if you discover the employee has lied about something during the recruitment process. For instance, the candidate may have falsified their CV or embellished their career past. A recent report from APPII found that almost half of employees have lied on their CV in order to make them standout out against their peers. In fact, one inf five employees have been caught out telling fibs to their potential employers.

Speaking on the topic, Gary McKay, MD of APPII, warned: “Clearly traditional CVs aren’t working for either candidates or employers. The fact that so many are having to resort to exaggerating truths when applying for new jobs just to try and stand out is proof that processes within recruitment can be enhanced.

“Establishing trust at the start of the recruitment process would help to rectify this.”

Reference checks have lapsed
A conditional offer with the proviso that the candidate’s references turn out well can be revoked if the reports come back negative. Background checks are an essential part of the recruitment process – though worryingly many HR leaders don’t’ even bother to follow up.

However, HR leaders have admitted to being less than squeaky clean when it comes to chasing down references. “There’s a recurring urban myth that all candidates lie on their resume; and we set out to situate this in hard evidence,” explained Lee-Martin Seymour, CEO and founder of Xref.

“Turning that on its head, hiring managers have been known to go behind candidates’ backs to contact previous employers without permission. It’s a clear security breach – and it could culminate in employees losing their jobs.”

Internal organizational issues
Shifting the focus away from the employee’s action, employers can rescind a job offer when their organizational corporate health is poor. For instance, if your budget is suddenly cut or your employment structures are being shifted you may be forced to hold off on hiring any new workers. One example could be rescinding a preliminary job offer from a candidate in order to save an employee who’s been at the company for a long time.

Discriminatory rescinding
When you’re considering taking back an offer of employment, it’s essential you know the laws in your country. Essentially, make sure you’re not rescinding the offer because of potentially discriminatory reasons. For instance, you cannot rescind a job offer is the candidate reveals that they are pregnant. This will more than likely result in a well-deserved lawsuit.

In fact, gender bias in interviews is a massive problem for HR. After interviewing over 200,000 people, Harvard found that 76% of respondents believe men are better suited to careers and women are more at home in, well, the home. A further report found that for every 100 women promoted to a managerial role, 130 of their male counterparts also got a boost.

But fear not, preference for unbiased interviewing ahs skyrocketed of late – with companies like Knockri leading the charge.

“While it’s a known fact that diminishing unconscious bias can lead to a more ethnically and gender diverse organization, much needs to be done to accomplish this,” explained Jahanzaib Ansari is the co-founder and CEO of Knockri.

“Being able to identify precisely where there’s unconscious bias present in talent acquisition is extremely important. The second step is to ensure that a tool is in place which provides interviewing managers with a short-list of candidates, assessed solely based on merit.”

Proceed with caution
Whether you decide to rescind an offer or simply change certain aspects of it, it’s important you proceed with caution. As with all sensitive HR issues, leaders are sheer masterminds at handling emotional intelligence and helping awkward situations seem decidedly less so.

When you’re speaking to the employees, remember that they’re an individual – not a statistic.

Most Read