Why a Candidate Says No to Your Job Offer

In a challenging labor market that saw the U.S. unemployment rate hover around 3.9% throughout 2018, employers are increasingly looking for ways they can beat the trend and meet their hiring goals. With qualified candidates at a premium, employers must examine how they’re presenting themselves to the interviewee, in order to effectively assess candidates while creating a compelling and unique candidate experience. In short, this will help diagnose why a candidate says no to their offer.

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Competitive Wages

Wages across the board are continuing to rise, and paying competitively is no longer optional. High-performing employees know their worth and are understandably reluctant to compromise. If your company is consistently losing preferred candidates to other employers, learn what others are paying and see what you can do to match it.

Companies must weigh the risks if they don’t hire the talent they want. If core business operations or financial penalties are at stake, offering a 5% increase in salary could stave off more dire circumstances.

If you’re competing against employers with especially deep pockets, offering a combination of salary plus stocks or stock options can help level the playing field, but combining a competitive compensation package with a positive candidate experience can place you above the other employers.

The Right Fit

Beyond compensation, what’s most important for employers in the hiring process is to have and communicate a strong employee value proposition (EVP).

Even if your company has an edge compared to other employers because of your uniqueness or cutting-edge tech, you still need to maintain your focus on your intrinsic value. What will really make a difference is a genuine EVP and living that every day. When candidates see a culture that speaks to them, that’s the real competitive advantage.

When you’re recruiting critical talent, you want the right candidate—which is far more important than just filling a position. You need to ensure you are conveying the essence and value of your organization—what’s unique about your company. Being up-front helps candidates feel that connection to your company’s mission and to the values that they’re being hired to support and fulfill. You need to hold candidates to the usual high standards while you are assessing how a candidate will fit into the company culture.

Every Interview Is High Stakes

If you’re looking for extremely specialized candidates in high-demand areas—software engineering, accounting/finance, and skilled trades—the company does not have the upper hand. Candidates I work with may have seven or eight other interviews lined up, which makes each interview a high-stakes engagement. These interviews are more of a mutual exploration.

While companies need to be sure they are communicating their value, they also need to present an accurate picture of the company. This can lead to disappointment and frustration down the road.


Different messages will resonate with different candidates. They want to be a part of something larger than themselves, and nearly all candidates want to contribute and feel useful. It’s not about sleeping pods and ping-pong tables. What everyone wants is a connection based on what’s mutually important to the candidate and the employer.

Micah Woong is the Director of Business Operations at Aerotek.