I interviewed a candidate for a management position, and he was really strong and we were impressed. He was put forward by an agency for a full time role / salary, but instead he said that his situation changed and that he would only consider fixed term contract roles now. It took us a lot of time to find a suitable candidate and I wouldn't want to lose him.

I am confused, as I don't have much experience on this, does this happen a lot? How does one typically handle a situation like this? I can either negotiate or tell him it's a full-time job and move on but I'm unsure on how someone in my position would handle something like this since I've never had it happen.

  • I work previously with multiple outstanding peoples. I know 2 co-workers and 1 director that did this kind of "bait and switch". They presented themselves as full time employee in interview and when they got an offer, they counter-offer for a contract. Those peoples had a good track record and after they have been hired, it was a pleasure to work with them. They did a better job over average but unfortunately, they all quits after 2-3 years of service.
    – Tom Sawyer
    Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 15:44
  • Did you ask the candidate what changed about his situation? One facet I see no one has explored is hourly vs. salary compensation. If the candidate is looking at a lot of 40+ hour weeks at your company, he might be wanting an hourly rate contract so he gets paid for every hour he works. White collar overtime, at least in the US, is free. Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 19:21

3 Answers 3


I am exactly that kind of person and I'd be happy to explain why.

So what happens when you hire for a job? You go through a few interviews. You ask pertinent questions about their history, but most of all you're trying to find a cultural fit. You want to be happy with the employee and you want the employee to be happy working for you. You check his background and you introduce him to others in the company to get their impressions. Then, you make an offer and hopefully he's hired.

Employment is a lot like a marriage. Seriously. It's expected to be "permanent" and it's expected that there is loyalty in both parties.

Now let's look at this for a moment.

Let's say you're looking to date someone and the process goes something like this:

  • A blind date set up by a mutual acquaintances
  • 3 to 4 rather short dates
  • The recommendations of his friends
  • Introduce him to your friends and possibly even your parents.

Everything in your dating experience has gone well, so what next? Why, you propose marriage!

It's really not that far from the truth. Full-time employment is supposed to be permanent and there are procedures for ending the relationship. And when you do split up, you're going to have to explain it (if you look for another marriage) to your next blind date at some point why that marriage broke up. You can't simply say "It just didn't work out".

I prefer contracts, or at least Contract-to-Permanent because that gives both parties the opportunity to truly get to know each other without that long-term commitment. And you know what happens if it doesn't work out? All you need to say is "the contracted ended."

But (like a marriage) if you're married 2 or 3 times and you get fired, there must be something wrong with you. That's the assumption. Nobody ever assumes the obvious which is:

Less than a day of getting to know each other is no way to start a marriage or a permanent job.

So try to work with the guy and do yourself a favor. If he wants a fixed term contract, make it long-term, like a year. As a year approaches, offer him full-time employment. You may find that you don't really want him permanently after all. Or he may be more suited in another area. Either way, you both get what you want.

You want permanence, but get real. No job is permanent, whether you're the employer or the employee. You're just relying on the loyalty and goodwill of the other to keep it permanent.

Settle for the contract.

  • Wow, didn't expect this answer but is a decent one and well put. I can't disagree, but at the end is down to my budget if that's the case as you describe. The money factor is not mentioned in a marriage :).
    – dqm
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 20:26
  • 1
    @dqm Sure it is.most women used to a beverly hills lifestyle aren't going to marry someone when they find out he works at home depot selling paint. You've got to work with the dollars. Make the offer with what you can afford (taking into account that you won't have to pay benefits, unemployment or his portion of FICA and offer that.
    – Chris E
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 20:32
  • @ChrisE rate might depend on country in the uk a contractor would probably want 3x of the FTE for a short term contract maybe less say 2.5x for 12 months and over Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 21:24
  • 1
    @Neuromancer probably and the guy probably wants more money. You just make the offer you can afford and if he doesn't like it, buh-bye. And you move on to the next candidate. No candidate is perfect and I suspect they're process is a little rigid, especially since it didn't help them in this case.
    – Chris E
    Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 15:25
  • Interesting answer, I wasn't aware of this point of view. However I doubt marriages have 3 months probationary period.
    – Tim
    Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 13:47

I am confused, as I don't have much experience on this, does this happen a lot?

It does not happen a lot. The candidate said "his situation changed". By definition, situations don't often change in the middle of an interview cycle.

Should I try to negotiate or should I just say that this role is a full time one and walk away?

Walk away and find a new candidate.

This one is telling you that he doesn't want to work for your company on a permanent, full-time basis. Assuming that you actually need an employee rather than a short-term contractor, continue your search.

Still, if your search so far has turned up nothing but this single candidate, this tells you that you either have a very unattractive offer/situation, or that you are looking in the wrong places. You might consider offering this candidate a contract with the intent that his primary goal is to help source and land a full-time employee to replace him.

Either way, have a talk with the agency. Express your displeasure that their candidate didn't really want the role you are trying to fill. Tell them that you expect them to work much harder to find a new candidate that actually wants the job you are offering. They missed the boat on this one.

  • I don't agree with most of it (just my opinion, but I see your points) but the last paragraph is gold. I've had recruiters ask me directly "How do you feel about permanent positions?" and I give them my spiel in my answer. But yeah, unless they did clarify that and he lied, then they dropped the ball.
    – Chris E
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 20:36
  • Very true, particularly for a management candidate. Who would accept leadership from a temporary manager who is not committed to their people or the company?
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 21:57

does this happen a lot? Should I try to negotiate or should I just say that this role is a full time one and walk away?

Not sure if it happens a lot, but he probably has his reasons for not wanting a full time position right now (probably handling personal affairs, or just taking it easier).

If you say he is a good candidate it could be worth trying to negotiate more, who knows, maybe you can convince him some way that benefits both parts.

Now, if he insists on the contract option, then it is fully up to you, and your company needs, to decide if it is worth the shot to abide to that proposition or if you would be better finding another candidate. That you would probably be better discussing with someone in your workplace, like you manager or similar, so you can come to a consensus on how much do you want this person and if it justifies accepting him on contract.

  • Unfortunately I was the only one to interview him and I am not sure how long it is going to take before I find another one so suitable... It's a tricky one.
    – dqm
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 18:36
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    If he's requesting a fixed term contract, I would assume he has other plans for after the contract ends - he may be waiting out a "No Compete" clause or something. Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 18:36
  • 2
    @dqm yes, as Dan mentions, he probably has other plans or reasons for wanting that, most surely being that he does not plan to stay there for too long. If that is something that you don't need then even though he is great candidate you may consider seeking for others that do want full time. Just remember that recruiting takes considerable time in most cases.
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 18:39

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