The most common reasons an offer is turned down

why job offers are declined

The light at the end of a lengthy recruitment process is the joy of finding that perfect candidate. The investment, time, and energy become well worth it when you manage to track down an ideal addition to your team. So it can be a disappointment – and a time waster – if your top pick then turns down your job offer. Particularly if you felt that it was a generous one.

Learning why job offers are declined can save you time and energy in the recruitment process. While you can’t prepare for every foreseeable situation, knowing the most common reasons why a star candidate might pass on an offer can help you prevent it from happening in the future.

Here are the top five reasons why job offers are declined – and how to avoid them in your next hiring process.

Reason 1: The office is too far away

Commuting is a drag – and a deal-breaker for many Canadians. According to a 2013 study, 50 per cent of Canadians feel that commute time is the top factor in choosing one employer over another. In the same study, 82 per cent of respondents said that the ideal commute time is 30 minutes or less – a problematic statistic, considering that in many major cities, commute times can tip to an hour each way.

What you can do about it: Consider embracing a flexible workplace where employees can work from home during part of the week. Alternatively, try offering a transportation allowance to offset the cost of gas or public transit.

Reason 2: Your offer was less than what they already have

The most qualified job seekers are often window shopping for new opportunities while still employed. With that in mind, if you can’t offer a better deal than what they already have, you might not be able to entice them to make the career change.

What you can do about it: First off, ask your candidate what they’re making now – and try to beat it. Next, revisit your employee perks. Salary, of course, plays a major role, but it can be something else that entices someone to accept a new position. Also, talk to your candidates about why they applied – if you know what attracted them in the first place, you’ll have better luck putting something attractive on the table.

Reason 3: They heard negative buzz about your company

Seekers are definitely researching your company before and after they apply, which is why employer branding is so important. With that in mind, research consistently shows that seekers are far less likely to accept a job offer from a company with a bad reputation. Disorder is another reason why job offers are declined: if your company recently went through a restructuring or a management shift, it can be a red flag to candidates.

What you can do about it: Manage your employer brand on a regular basis to ensure that the information being disseminated about your company is accurate. If there is truth to the negative buzz, address it head-on: explain the situation to your candidate and go through the plan to fix or address the issue.

Reason 4: The role is not clearly articulated

No one responds well to ambiguity, especially when it comes to careers. Hiring for a role without clearly-defined responsibilities is destined to be problematic because a candidate might worry the job isn’t a permanent one, or doesn’t have a clear career path.

What you can do about it: The first step in any hiring process should be an intake meeting with the hiring manager to ensure you have a clear picture of the position (more on that in our eGuide on writing successful job postings). Go into the job interviews with a clear set of goals and strategies for the position, and give even more detail when offering the job to a candidate.

Reason 5: Something better – or different – came along

Rarely do seekers pursue opportunities one-by-one, and it’s common for top talent to receive multiple offers at the same time. The simple truth is that sometimes a better offer – higher salary, better perks, more ideal location – wins out.

What you can do about it: Learn from the candidate – and the winning offer. Whenever possible, schedule a short conversation with the candidate to find out what you can about the offer they accepted, and the aspects that were most important to them. This is valuable information when starting the hiring process again.

There are many reasons why job offers are declined, and you can learn from all of them. But the most important thing to keep in mind is that you treat the candidate respectfully even after the offer is turned down. Thank them for their consideration and encourage them to consider your company in the future. Remember: your paths may cross again.

See also:
Eight interview mistakes hiring managers make
9 unique employee perks to attract talent


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