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Why Are Candidates Rejecting Offers?

Companies continue to struggle to attract qualified candidates in the current employment market. That is only half of the battle. The other half is being able to generate enough interest to get candidates in the door for the interview process.

Once they do, companies are now facing another, unexpected obstacle: More and more candidates are turning down offers. This trend seems to be more commonplace as candidates are no longer desperate to accept. Let’s face it, in a tight labor market like today, where candidates have options, it’s not unusual for job seekers to turn down opportunities for a whole host of reasons, and easily move on to the next opportunity.

There are many reasons why a candidate would choose to walk away after an offer has been made. But a recent study by the global staffing firm Robert Half, has identified the top responses provided by nearly 3,000 Senior Managers when asked, “What is the main reason candidates turn down a job offer from your company?”

Compensation and benefits are lower than expected. 30% cite this as the number one reason offers are rejected. Unfortunately, companies are still not being transparent during the interview process. This could very easily be avoided by being upfront, honest and communicating effectively with candidates.

Salary and the comprehensive benefits package are usually predetermined for open positions, so there is no reason not to disclose the details early in the process. Companies are doing themselves a great disservice by avoiding this piece of the conversation until the very end.

Accepting another job offer or counteroffer. Tying with compensation, 30% identified this as the primary reason. Companies have the ability to prevent this from happening as well, by decreasing the amount of time spent during the interview process. Unfortunately, companies have such stringent procedures in place that the amount of time the interview process now takes has nearly doubled over the past decade.

Keep in mind that top talent has options. Candidates are not going to wait around for months to be hired. The longer companies take to hire, the more likely candidates will entertain other opportunities, continue to interview elsewhere and ultimately jump on another offer. In terms of accepting a counteroffer, hiring companies have less control here.

However, if they want to hire the candidate, they have to realize this could occur, and the best way to prevent it is to move quickly and come in with the best possible offer from the start.

Limited opportunities for career growth or advancement. 13% of offers are rejected because the candidates do not feel they will have room for professional growth. Presenting a well-defined career path to candidates during the interview process is more important than ever as most career driven individuals are motivated to effectively progress their career and want to understand what that looks like within an organization.

Job seekers are very likely considering a new role that allows them to take the next step. However, most are not planning on settling in on that role for the next 15 years. By strategically developing the role and allowing the individual to effectively progress, you establish yourself as a forward-thinking company.

Even smaller organizations have the ability to do this and should not dismiss it as impossible. It’s important, and is as simple as being mindful of career goals, always encouraging growth and learning, and being open to continued education.

Poor fit with the job description. 12% of the time candidates will reject an offer because at the end of the day, what they were told initially or gleaned from the job description wasn’t accurate. Again, this can easily be avoided. Companies must do a much better job of developing accurate job descriptions. It shouldn’t just be a list of skills/requirements.

Of course, it is impossible to include EVERYTHING on a job description, but presenting a snapshot of the actual day-to-day goes a long way. Job descriptions play a vital role in attracting talent to an organization and should be truthful and transparent about both the role and the company.

As candidates proceed through the interview process and get to the offer stage only to be blindsided by never before discussed job functions etc., there is a high likelihood that they will walk away.

Poor fit with the company culture. 8% of managers surveyed feel this to be the reason candidates reject offers. This ties closely to the job description issue in that if companies present themselves clearly, honestly and transparently from the beginning, this can be avoided.

Company culture is so important these days to candidates. When weighing options and looking to make future career decisions, candidates are making sure they fit an organization’s culture, or they do not want to work there. This is vitally important to Millennials. No matter how good a job looks on paper, if they do not feel comfortable in the environment, they will pass and keep looking.

Limited employee perks. 7% cited poor company perks as the reason job offers are rejected. Again, a sign of the times. Candidates want to work for forward-thinking organizations where they feel valued. In this war for talent, companies are having to step up their “perks package” to compete in the market.

It’s no secret to job seekers that companies are thinking outside of the box in order to retain top talent, and this includes unique employee perks. They are aware of what’s out there…game tables, “Free Lunch Fridays,” stocked beverage refrigerators, summer hours. The list goes on.

This above list is not comprehensive and obviously there are many, many other reasons candidates reject offers. Such as:

  • Location: not having the option to work remote
  • Unpleasant candidate experience: the interview/hiring process is clunky, outdated or the candidate feels they are treated poorly
  • Negative Employer Brand: candidates research the company and find a bad reputation such as reviews on Glassdoor, BBB etc.
  • Personality conflicts/differences: similar to culture fit, but sometimes a candidate may just not like the hiring manager
  • Personal reasons: individual circumstances

Presenting a job offer to a good candidate is exciting. By that point, the company feels confident and secure that they’ve found the right person. There is always a chance he/she will reject the offer for any of the reasons stated in this article. But, hiring companies do still hold some power in all of this.

Consider each of the reasons identified. Companies can address every challenge we’ve listed except for individual circumstances and personality conflicts. If companies tighten up the interview/hiring process they will see a decrease in offer rejections.

Furthermore, by discussing the process and procedures with an external recruiting partner, companies can receive an unbiased opinion and advice on what changes can be made, ultimately leading to greater hiring success.