Making an Offer to a Rabbinic Candidate

Posted on: Tuesday January 15, 2013

  1. Do your internal preparations first. Has the board agreed to your negotiations process? Has the board given the appropriate approvals for financial agreements?
  2. It is best to make the initial offer by telephone, allowing you to discuss the terms of employment and establish whether it is an acceptable offer. Do not discuss details in a voicemail message or send an email as a first contact. Personal direct communication is best. Our recent experience informs us that you may want to send an email directly to your primary candidate at the same time you are trying to call to make sure you get through. 
  3. It is good practice to email your second choice when making an offer to your primary candidate, to inform them that if your primary candidate does not accept your offer within two hours, your second choice could expect to hear from you with an offer. 
  4. Remember that the rabbi may have other offers on the table so be enthusiastic about how much you want the candidate to join your synagogue or community. 
  5. Presenting an offer is one more opportunity to promote the benefits of working for your community. Highlight why someone should come to work for you. 
  6. The acceptance of an offer is pending contract negotiations. An acceptance of an offer is always followed by negotiations.
  7. Remember: the initial phone call is to make an offer of employment, not to finalize all the financial arrangements. There will be further conversation, often including the involvement of other people.
  8. Be prepared to answer questions from the candidate when you make this initial phone call, such as, what date does the position commence, and any revisions to the job description.  
  9. Every candidate will want some time to reflect on the offer, so do not expect an immediate response. Be prepared for the candidate to say, ‘Thank you so much for the offer. I will need to think about it. I will get back to you ….’ 
  10. It is fair to set a limit on how long the candidate has to respond to your offer. Tell the candidate that they are your first choice, but you need to hear back from them in a specific timeframe. From our experience, students need at least 2 hours to respond. 
  11. Follow up the phone conversation with an email to put the offer in writing. 
  12. If a rabbi declines your offer, ask the candidate why he or she declined the offer. Reconvene the committee and consider what you heard from the candidates. Perhaps the pay is too low, the benefits incomplete, the organization seems confused about what it wants from the rabbinic role, or the interview process seemed hostile or contentious. Sometimes the process of re-examining the candidates can bring a second-choice candidate to the front. 
  13. Letting the other candidates know. As great as it is to let someone know they have a new job, you also have to break the bad news to the unsuccessful candidates. Although it may be time consuming, you should make every effort to do this via the phone. They deserve a call or a sincere letter from you that thanks them for their consideration and for interviewing for the job. Clearly explain that another candidate most closely matched the qualifications specified in the job description and the needs of the congregation at this time. You should also avoid elaborating on the reasons or discussing the candidate’s performance during the interview process.