Why candidates are rejecting your job offer—and what to do about it

Sarah Sipek


It’s a frustrating scenario employers know all too well: You spend weeks researching, recruiting and interviewing to find the perfect candidate, but when you extend the offer, they reject it. Not only do you not get your top choice, but you’ve also wasted a tremendous amount of time, energy and resources—and the position still isn’t filled.

With the unemployment rate at its lowest in years, the competition for top talent continues to be fierce. To buck the trend, you need to understand why candidates are rejecting your offers and what you can do to stop it from happening.

Below are the most common reasons candidates reject a job offer, as well as strategies you can employ to avoid making the same costly mistakes going forward.


Compensation is too low. Today’s candidates have access to more data than ever before. That means with just a simple Google search, they can likely find the average salary for a position in any job market across the country. If your offer comes in below market value, the candidate will likely pass. And who can blame them? No one wants to be undervalued.

To ensure that your offering competitive compensation, you need to do your research. Gathering supply and demand data will give you a layout of the current candidate marketplace and help you adjust your compensation accordingly. Recruitment technology providers often offer solutions that let you search compensation and supply and demand data for any market on a single platform.

You took too long to make an offer. If you think you’re the only company a candidate is interviewing with, you’re in for a rude surprise. If you wait too long to extend an offer, a candidate will move on to greener pastures.

So, don’t waste time. Speed up your recruitment process by creating a talent pipeline or implementing a new recruitment technology solution. Anything to shave time off the process and help you extend the offer faster will make a difference.

The candidate’s current company counter-offered. Just because you extend an offer doesn’t mean that the job search process is over for the candidate. In fact, 74 percent of candidates continue to pursue other opportunities after accepting your offer—and that includes considering counter-offers from their current employer.

You need to understand a candidate’s motivation for making a job change and appeal to it. That means doing a thorough job during the interview process. If the candidate focuses their questions on compensation, they are likely motivated by salary, which means your offer should be competitive. If they focus on benefits or company culture, be sure to emphasize all your organization has to offer. For some candidates, the right perks trump pay, so promote your tuition reimbursement or generous parental leave policy in these instances.

Your company has a bad reputation. The advent of online company reviews means that any employee with a grievance has a platform to air it publicly. Regardless of whether the poor feedback is justified, it is accessible to any job seeker researching your company. Furthermore, CareerBuilder found that 71 percent of U.S. workers would not apply to a company that is currently experiencing negative publicity.

Fortunately, you do have some recourse. If you’re aware that your company has a PR problem, work to get positive testimonials in front of your candidate pool. Try letting candidates speak to current employees to get a sense of what working for your organization will be like. You could also post positive reviews to your hiring website to show another side to the story.

Poor candidate experience. As many as 4 out of 5 candidates say the overall candidate experience they receive is an indicator of how a company values its people. And communication is a major part of that experience. Unfortunately, only 47 percent of candidates say employers do a good job of setting expectations in terms of communication at the beginning of a potential hiring interaction.

Candidates are also likely to decline your offer if they have a negative experience during the background check process. CareerBuilder found that nearly 2 in 5 employers have lost a candidate because of this reason.

Don’t make the same mistake. Infuse transparency and constant communication into your hiring process so that candidates know exactly what’s happening during each step in the process. Partnering with the right provider can streamline the process and help ensure a quality experience for the candidate.

Want to find great talent faster? Revamp your talent network with these strategies.



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