How to handle a candidate that rejects a job offer

How to handle a candidate that rejects a job offer

Perhaps the most frustrating (and resource intensive) aspect of a direct recruitment process, when you have gone through 95% of the necessary work, and right at the last minute the candidate declines the job offer.

If you have a saving grace of a second best candidate, then it may be ok. But what happens when you have to start the whole process again?

Why do candidates do this?
Candidates usually decline jobs for three reasons:

  1. They have been given a counter offer by their existing employee
  2. They have doubts about some aspect of the position (eg duties, salary, reporting manager, reporting line, peers, colleagues, etc) or doubts about some aspect of the company (eg size, location, industry, financial success etc).
  3. They have received a different ‘more appealing’ job offer.

Whilst candidates know that expressing doubts or raising the counter issue is not helpful to their chances of becoming the preferred candidate, it is likely they were fully aware and harbouring feelings of doubt throughout the recruitment process.

Instead of voicing them, the candidate has instead been carefully trying to rationlise each concern. After all, if it turns out the issues were unwarranted, they don’t want to be ruled out, and will be keeping their options open for as long as possible.

Can a recruiter avoid such a scenario?
Here’s some hints and tips we have picked up along the way to helping employers avoid this scenario completely:

  1. The counter offer: If a candidate is that good, it’s natural an employer will want to keep them and will counter-offer. Make sure you role-play the conversation so you know exactly how equipped the candidate is to effectively handle should it occur
  2. The resignation: Though candidates may have gone through the process of applying for a new job, when it actually comes down to writing that resignation letter, there can be a sudden change of heart. Make sure the candidate is mentally prepared for the new job.
  3. The other job opportunities: We naturally like to keep our options close to our chest but there is no reason why an employer can’t ask about other job opportunities a candidate is waiting to hear about. Making sure you know the full scenario is key to a successful candidate employment.
  4. The life circumstances: Whether personal or work biased, changes in our life can lead to reconsidering any change in job and it could be anything from marital issues, pregnancy right through to promotion or pay rise. To stay in the loop, make sure you ‘subtly’ continue to ask if anything has changed in circumstance that is relevant to a candidate’s job search.
  5. The call-back: If a candidate is not responsive to your call or contact, then there is an issue. This is especially if you have agreed a set time / date and discussed different contact options (social media / email / call / text.)
  6. The Job-Offer: A keen candidate will be ready and waiting to receive your job offer, but any other response, such as ‘time to think about it’ may cause concern. When in the situation, ‘respectfully’ try to establish the issue and why there is hesitation in accepting the job.

Whilst we all know it’s never safe to assume anything, this is especially true in the recruitment process. So making sure you have ticked off the list any issues that are likely to occur, will put you in better shape for a smooth recruitment process all the way to choosing a candidate and a simple acceptance of the position.