Why Are Candidates Declining Your Job Offers?

6 min

Recruitment isn’t always plain sailing. We have all been in the position where you’ve spent weeks, sometimes months looking through applications and pro-actively searching to find the perfect candidate. They’ve excelled in every stage of the recruitment process, from interviews to psychometric testing, and you finally have that one perfect candidate that’s a great fit for your business. It’s all looking good, but then you call the candidate to discuss the next step….

You’ve sent over an offer and you’re sure they are going to accept the role that you have spent so much time trying to fill. Then you get the call / email that they are rejecting the offer for whatever reason.

You start to ask ‘why didn’t they accept the offer? What didn’t work in the recruitment process?  What could we have done differently? Have I just done all this work for no return?’

So why are candidates declining your job offers and what can you do to mitigate against this?

Reason 1. The Recruitment Process is Too Long

Finding the best fit for your company and the role is incredibly important and as such, you have an extensive recruitment process. This will ensure that your next hire is the best one out there, meeting both the requirements of the role in regards to skill but also a great culture fit for the company. However, sometimes your candidates (perhaps your ideal candidate) find the process too long and lose interest.

So how do you find the balance between having a comprehensive recruitment process and keeping candidates engaged?

First thing’s first, candidate experience is key. If you leave a candidate waiting extended periods of time to hear back from you at each stage or you haven’t provided feedback when requested, this poor experience could be the reason why candidates decline your offer. Ensuring that you continuously communicate with candidates is important to keep them up to date with the process; this is good practice in recruitment. Even if a candidate rejects your offer, if you provide a good candidate experience you are building a strong relationship for the future.

Reason 2. Your Benefits Package isn’t Strong Enough

Your company may have a strong benefits package but in reality, so do multiple others. Getting buy-in from candidates requires more than just a good package, they need to see that your company is more than that. For example, it has an efficient on-boarding process and personal development programmes.

With senior level candidates they will be expecting a strong package due to their experience and skill level. So what is a strong package? Every candidate is after something different so understanding what the right benefits are for each candidate is key to providing a tailored and therefore stronger package. If a candidate has had to negotiate extensively to get a package that they feel is suitable for them it may sour the relationship and also extend the process and end up losing a great candidate.

Presenting a very competitive package to a candidate at the start, giving them your best package rather than negotiating up to the best package is a simple way to stop candidates from declining your job offer.

Reason 3. Lack of Company Culture

Company culture is becoming an increasingly important factor in a candidate’s career move choices, with some candidates placing culture fit as more important than the package. Engaging with a candidate through sharing your company’s vision and goals for the future is a great way to get them excited about the culture of your company. So does getting them involved with the team that they will be working with by inviting them to a team event. This gives them a chance to interact with their new colleagues and see that you’re the type of company who treats employees well. Candidates are less likely to decline your offer if they can see that it’s a great place to work.

Reason 4. No Clear Opportunity for Progression

Getting candidates through the door is sometimes the easy step in the recruitment process, ensuring that they stay is another matter entirely. Retaining talent in the current job market is about providing your employees with career progression opportunities. It is vital for them to see the value in accepting your job offer.

So how do you show the value in your company to a candidate? Start with picking the right people to participate in the recruitment process, people who are able to showcase the business and the progression opportunities it provides. Define the career structure and show the support and incentives that you provide, such as industry standard qualifications, so they know they will be able to progress with you. Following on from that, define clear goals for each quarter in addition to long-term yearly targets to show the ambition of the company and how to develop together with them.

Reason 5. The Perils of Counter Offers

Counter offers at a senior level are inevitable; in most cases companies don’t know the true value of their top talent until they hand in their notice and are about to move on. When this happens, the company is likely to do everything they can to retain their talent, so you need to ensure that you have given them the best offer that they can’t refuse.

Ask why they are leaving their current company at the beginning of the recruitment process so that you can understand from their perspective why they are looking for a new role. If they are considering taking a counter offer, re-iterate these reasons back to them so that they remember why they are looking for a new opportunity in the first place. Showcase why the role is a great opportunity for them and how it would solve the issues that they stated to you in the first place.

Finding the best talent in the market is hard enough as it is, and most companies work hard to keep their top talent happy and try to prevent them from leaving. Even if top talent does enter the market, they are in high demand and likely to be snapped up very quickly. Therefore working to find the best candidates and ensuring they don’t decline your offer is incredibly important. In addition to CSG’s executive search function, we provide a talent mapping service to help you understand what talent is out there and where it is so that you are the most prepared if and when you decide to make a move.