Recruitment & Selection

Timing the Job Offer

Speed and timeliness are important during the hiring process. Without devoting some effort to establishing an efficient applicant acceptance process, most hiring managers will continue to be challenged in their efforts to enhance their organization’s ability to compete for talent.

Interpretations of Job Offer Timing

Job offer timing, or the time between an applicant’s final interview and a job offer being made, elicits several different reactions from job applicants, dependent on whether it is faster or slower. Offer timing also impacts the applicant’s offer acceptance decision. Extending earlier job offers:
  • Signifies the hiring manager’s enthusiasm and positive assessment of the candidate.
  • Eliminates the applicant’s uncertainty in their evaluation of the job/organization.
  • Makes the offer more attractive to the applicant.
In contrast, later offers are more likely to violate applicant expectations and produce less favorable reactions to the offer and the organization. Receiving a later offer causes applicants to assume that the organization is not interested in them, is inefficient, and is unfair. Job applicants will be less likely to accept a job offer if they perceive the selection process or their treatment during it to be unfair. Additionally, post interview delays in communicating with candidates can lead to negative perceptions of the organization. These views sometimes manifest into action. For instance, delays between submitting an application and being contacted for an initial interview may cause economically disadvantaged candidates to self-select out of the process.

Decision Time

Both student and experienced applicants were more likely to accept job offers that were received sooner rather than later following the final selection interview. Moreover, faster offers to student candidates led to either relatively quick acceptances or long decision times that resulted in offer rejections. On average, experienced candidates received quicker offers, made faster decisions, and were more likely to accept offers than were student candidates. However, applicant experience did not influence the relationship between offer timing and offer acceptance. In regards to hiring outcomes, making quicker final selection and offer decisions will not likely influence performance or turnover.

Practical Implications

Improvements in job offer efficiency could help hiring managers to significantly reduce overall hiring costs and free up resources to bolster new employee on-boarding, development, and retention programs. In case you are still wondering, “why is this important?” Increased acceptance rates, reduced search costs, and lower vacancy times can provide substantial cost savings for the organization. Such changes would require little cost to implement, and would lead to long term savings in regards to not only costs, but also the use of time. Additionally, for greater efficiency in the job offer/acceptance process, organizations should consider imposing applicant decision deadlines.

Kandace Waddy


This was a summary of the research and practice implications from: Becker, W. J., Connolly, T., & Slaughter, J. E. (2010). The effect of job offer timing on offer acceptance, performance, and turnover. Personnel Psychology, 63, 223-241.