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I'm asking this from the perspective of the future supervisor. After a round of interviews I approached the highest ranked candidate. My error was not including a deadline in the initial email.

Now a week has passed from the last response I got from the candidate. I have sent another reminder recently. However, my patience is running out. I understand that of course the candidate might be trying to buy some time to make up their mind, and probably waiting for other offers.

Are there any other options apart from sending an ultimatum? If so, how much longer should I wait to filter out external reasons for the lack of responses? I.e. sickness, unforeseen events, etc.? This is in Europe.

  • Maybe just send another polite email with a deadline? – C26 May 9 '18 at 11:15
  • What about writing an email asking for a working phone number? – Oleg Lobachev May 9 '18 at 19:51
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Let's imagine the original offer letter with a deadline included, with the deadline coming x days after the date of the offer. Perhaps x was five business days. Whatever it would have been, just use the same value now, as a deadline for a decision, in a formal follow-up communication.

Leave a voicemail alerting the candidate to the deadline sent via email. Don't duplicate everything you said in the letter -- just mention the basics.

Build in one day of buffer. That is, if you say in the letter that the deadline is Tuesday, May 15, at noon, then wait until the next morning before you contact the next person.

In choosing a value for x, I would never go less than three. That would be unreasonable.

  • Thanks, that is what I ended up doing. It turned out the person was merely ignoring our emails. – TheWanderer May 14 '18 at 9:18
  • @TheWanderer - Thanks for the update. Irresponsible! But at least now you know and can proceed accordingly. // Thanks for the checkmark; funny that you accepted without upvoting.... – aparente001 May 15 '18 at 1:21
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Do you have a phone number for the candidate?

If you contact them by phone you will know whether or not they received your communication, rather than email where, as you say, you don't know if they may have experienced extenuating circumstances preventing them from responding.

If they are indeed waiting for other responses, they might be more likely to mention this on the phone rather than in an email.

  • I tried that, but it goes to voicemail. – TheWanderer May 9 '18 at 13:00
  • Maybe try at different times? Could be they're working at the times you've tried calling and can't access their phone? – Bridget May 9 '18 at 13:05
  • I'll try that. I'm afraid that the person is not using that number anymore, since they are in a country different from the country code of the number they listed. – TheWanderer May 9 '18 at 13:14

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