What You Can Learn When a Top Candidate Rejects Your Offer

You think you’ve found the perfect candidate to fill an open role at your organization. After reviewing their resume, conducting rounds of interviews with your recruiter, hiring manager and company leadership, you’ve made an offer. You’ve even checked the candidate’s references and completed salary negations with the person. Everything looks like it’s going well and that the candidate is about to accept the offer… That is, until they don’t.

You’re surprised and disappointed by the rejection. While the candidate gives a valid reason as to why he/she can’t accept the role at your company, you’re still upset. But instead of letting it get to you and your human resources organization, you must bounce back and learn from the experience so that you can grow as a business.

“It stings when an extended offer is rejected. This is especially true after a lengthy interview process.” says Hunter Judson, Jr, Wealth Management Practice Director for Judson Group. “Instead of placing all the blame on the candidate that rejected your offer, carefully analyze what happened to potentially can avoid another turn down in the future.”

Here are some tips to help you move forward after a top candidate rejects your offer:

  1. Revisit your interviewing process as a firm. If a candidate rejects your offer, it is possible they did not have a good experience during the interview process. Maybe one of the interviewers failed to impress or didn’t adequately answer the candidate’s concerns. Or it could be that the interview process was extremely grueling or exceptionally long and created uneasiness or uncertainty. Then, when it came time to think through the offer, they simply didn’t feel comfortable accepting.To help, you should assemble company leadership to determine how you handle job interviews. That way you, recruiters and hiring managers are on the same page when it comes to language you use when meeting candidates, the types of questions you ask, and, maybe most importantly, the way you describe the company in order to woo top talent.”Meet with key stakeholders during your interview process,” says Judson. “This is absolutely critical if you want to make offers to top talent and have them accept. You need to come across as a united front and inspire people to want to join your firm. That means you must hold their interest. Ask them what their interest level is in each step of the process. Otherwise, you’ll lose out on people who can help your business succeed.”
  2. Determine if you have an employer branding issue. A lack of compelling employer branding or a sense of the brand experience is another reason a top candidate might reject your offer. For instance, a candidate may not feel excited about what your organization has to offer them. Maybe during the interview process, they didn’t see the potential for career growth. Or the company felt antiquated and not a good fit for their personality. If your organization feels stale, unappealing or otherwise not exciting, then it’s likely a candidate will simply reject your offer without a second thought.To address this, you need to ensure the company has a solid social media presence, consistent media coverage, and the company website and marketing materials are updated. This will provide the “wow factor” for prospective candidates from the very beginning, enabling the organization to inspire interviewees with specific examples of a strong company culture, growth opportunities, and a highly professional interview process.

Here are a few signs that a candidate will reject your offer:

  1. The candidate is obsessed with compensation from the very beginning of the process.
  2. They are not jumping on the next steps in the process quickly
  3. The candidate only has canned questions to ask during interviews.
  4. They don’t seem enthusiastic about the final offer and take too long to come back to you with an answer

“You want to extend an offer to the best candidate,” says Judson. “That begins with the first interview. Ensure you are uncovering the candidate’s reasons for their search, their must haves and nice to haves in their next position. Look out for some of these warning signs throughout the interview process and make sure your hiring team is talking regularly and sharing feedback with one another. Not only will this weed out weaker candidates, it will also help you face fewer rejections from seemingly strong contenders.”

In sum, while a rejected job offer can throw a damper on a critical position you need to fill, there are several actions you and other on the hiring team can take to lessen the chances of this happening. By bolstering your interviewing process and employer branding initiatives, as well as simply looking out for red flags, you’ll make offers to stronger candidates who won’t leave you scrambling to fill open roles at your organization.

Please visit our posts for additional tips on employment branding.