At 10 years old, a visit was not complete to my childhood best friend's house without a greed-driven game of Hungry Hungry Hippos. We would perch on the floor behind our favorite colored hippo and pound the lever until all the white marbles were resting safely in the bellies of our beloved warrior. The tallying of the marbles began immediately to crown the triumphant hippo and the options were win, lose, or more often than not because of an even number of marbles... a tie. Ties were optimal because it meant no hurt feelings.
The image of those gobbling hippos enters my head when I find myself in the middle of negotiations between candidates and companies. Each party begins devouring with the mentality of feast or famine and unlike the board game, rarely does it end in a tie.
At the drop of the last marble companies open wide and attempt to consume as many negotiation points as possible leaving the candidate feeling like a pawn all the name of risk avoidance. This works when the market is saturated and the candidates are desperate, but when there is demand for their services these candidates continue to consider other options at places where they are not treated like commodities but rather an integral piece to a companies overall strategy. When offer time comes companies are naively surprised to find the candidate is no longer available because they found a company that valued, not exploited their experience.
There are also candidates out there dead set on leaving the recruiting table having to undo a notch in their belt to accommodate all their marbles. Companies offer a more than fair salary, excellent benefits, are reasonably accommodating and still it's not enough. They need MORE time to THINK about it. It's enough to make you want to draft your own Jerry Maguire mission statement. These candidates are able to do this now, but the market will more than likely change and they will find themselves with a slightly smaller mouth than they used to have. My advice to them is not not burn bridges while you still have the upper hand.
So how does a society raised on games like Hungry Hungry Hippo's transition into the CarMax version of a win-win when it comes to the hiring process? Is it feasible for a company and a candidate to tie? It may not be, however I think it should be the goal.
My humble advice to companies... if a candidate matches what you are looking for, do what it takes to bring them on board as soon as they are available to start at their requested salary if in range. It will show the candidate they impress you enough to act fast. It will also free up your recruiting resources to work on requisitions in the early stages that need maximum attention.
And candidates... try to avoid stretching out your decision period by nickle and diming in the hopes something better may surface. If you like the company, pull the trigger. It will show the company your strong decision making ability and perhaps allow the recruiter you are working with to sleep a little better that night.