Why Candidates Reject Job Offers

Attracting and hiring top talent can be a tough process, especially in a tight labor market. So, it’s especially frustrating when you make it almost to the end of the process, find a candidate you’d really like to bring onboard, and then the job offer gets rejected.


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Not only do you have the disappointment of not hiring someone you thought would be a good employee, but you now also have to find a new candidate to make an offer to. It’s frustrating to say the least.

Let’s take a look at some reasons candidates may reject your job offer:

The offer didn’t match their needs or expectations, which could include things like:

  • The pay and/or benefits are not at market value or not what they needed or expected to be offered.
  • They may need a specific benefit (something nonnegotiable) that the organization didn’t offer.
  • Regardless of the pay offered, they may have received a better opportunity or gotten a counteroffer from their current employer.

Their experience during the hiring process left something to be desired, which may include things like:

  • Something happened in the interview, like inappropriate or illegal questions that made them unsure of the organization.
  • The organization didn’t spend any time telling the candidate the various reasons they would want to work there.
  • The hiring process may have taken too long, and they already moved on. Or, even if they haven’t moved on, they may not trust that the organization will be responsive in the future and may assume that other aspects of the organization will be cold or inefficient if the hiring process is.
  • Someone they interacted with during the hiring process may have done something unprofessional.
  • They may have witnessed something they were uncomfortable with, like a tense interaction or something that led them to believe they wouldn’t be happy in the company.
  • They may have felt like there was a lack of sufficient communication.
  • The process may have been frustrating or overwhelming, leaving them wondering what the job would be like.

Something was missing in the organization or job itself, which could include things like:

  • They didn’t think the organization was a good cultural fit due to something as simple as a different expectation of working hours or a fundamental personality clash.
  • Something may have happened at the organization that resulted in negative press and impacted their decision, or they may have discovered reviews online that negatively impacted their opinion.
  • They may have realized during the hiring process that the job itself is not what they had imagined and decided it was not what they were looking for.
  • They may have gotten the impression they wouldn’t be able to meet long-term career goals at the company.
  • They may have gotten the impression that current employees are stressed or unhappy.
  • Perhaps they are not willing to relocate to where the job is, or they realized the commute would be too much.

What has your experience been? Have you had the opportunity to ask candidates why they’re rejecting your offer? If yes, what would you add to this list?

Bridget Miller is a business consultant with a specialized MBA in International Economics and Management, which provides a unique perspective on business challenges. She’s been working in the corporate world for over 15 years, with experience across multiple diverse departments including HR, sales, marketing, IT, commercial development, and training.

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