Why job offers fall through

You’ve found the perfect candidate for your opening after a 3 month search.

You’ve been through such a long process to find that individual and are relieved that you have finally found someone. Juggling recruitment with the demands of work has been more than a challenge. So when you discover that, after all this time and effort, your offer of this perfectly matching job has been rejected, you are disillusioned. This process has taken too long and you don’t understand why the candidate has turned you down.

After all your business is unique. Your company offer innovative solutions, you have some amazing clients and brands. You employ great people, some of whom  have been with you for years and you promote on merit not longevity. Some of your colleagues have progressed through the ranks and their commitment and enthusiasm has really helped them shine.  You also offer great training, benefits and support and the chance to build a career. The positives of what you can offer are endless….

Business team face a big question mark.

So why didn’t this candidate accept your offer?  

Here are the top 8 reasons. 


  1. They were a “passive” job seeker therefore not desperate to change

    and so if they were to change jobs it needed to be for something exceptional. In this case your offer wasn’t exceptional and just matched what they were doing at the time.

  2. The interview experience doesn’t match the brand message.

    You don’t need to have fancy offices to seduce an applicant (it helps) but the experience from the moment they arrive to the moment they leave the interview is going to make or break the situation. An applicant will look around to see if the environment and people match the message they are shown about who the company is. They won’t just assess the people they meet in the interview, they’ll check out the people they walk past on the way to the interview, they’ll assess whether employees look engaged & happy (are they smiling?), they’ll look at what kinds of notices are on the walls, and listen to what people are saying in the lift or outside the offices when they leave. For example, If a company says they are creative is this evident in the working environment.

  3. You took too long to sell your “uniqueness “.

    No longer is it possible to rely on just your “industry name” to attract the best people. Even the biggest brands have to work hard to attract the best people they want to their business. The most successful hires are with companies who make a continuous conscious effort to sell their offering using their key people.  No longer is it possible to rely on just your “industry name” to attract the best people. Even the biggest brands have to work hard to attract the best people they want to their business. The most successful hires are with companies who make a continuous conscious effort to sell their offering throughout the recruitment process, involving their key people. The best way to do this is to show videos or even better arrange for the interviewee to meet your best people so they can tell the applicant what their story was when they joined.  Unfortunately many firms still don’t do this, and will only work hard to sell their company at the offer stage, especially if the applicant they shortlisted has other offers on the table. This is often too late as by now an applicant will have made their mind up. This can also end up being very costly to your business.  If this happens to you then you should take the opportunity to review your processes and see if there are any changes you could make to improve your chances of hiring next time. The best reasons for joining a company should be presented continuously throughout the hiring process and the best times to do this is at every stage of communication with the applicant.

  1. The balancing act; should I move fast? vs should I play it cool?

    Some firms still make a job offer after just one short interview. Unless a candidate is prepared for this, it can actually put them off joining the company. The applicant might fear that the company is desperate to hire. They might also believe that the company is just not bothered about the kinds of people they employ, having made a quick decision based on an initial one hour conversation. If your selection process is based on a one stage interview, then tell them in advance and explain your reasons for this, but give them the option to request a chance to come back again, if they feel the need. You may argue that after numerous interviews you know very quickly whether or not the applicant is a good fit for your team. The applicant, however, may not have as much experience interviewing and so could quite naturally feel nervous about accepting an offer so quickly. Step back and give the applicant time. But don’t disappear altogether if you are serious. It’s important to make sure that you are prompt with a decision as to whether you want the applicant to return for another meeting, and that you set a time which is convenient to both of you fairly quickly to show commitment.

  1. Your salary offer doesn’t match their expectation.

    If a candidate is looking for a new role the chances are they are also looking for a pay rise. Whilst money isn’t always the main motivator it is an important factor, especially with the recent increases in living costs. Don’t assume that the applicant who is asking for a substantial pay rise is being unreasonable, and dismiss them outright. Before making any decision, assess how much you want them for your business and how long it took you to find them. Try to understand their reasons for requesting the amount they have asked for t it and make sure you know what your competitors are offering in the current climate. Ask them at the beginning what their salary expectations are, and consider early on how this fits into your company pay structure. You will usually lose a strong applicant if they feel more valued elsewhere by being offered a much better financial reward structure, especially if you come in way below what they are looking for.

  1. Lack of feedback and communication.

    Job seekers like to know how they are doing throughout the recruitment process; what their strengths are and where they may lack experience or skills. Tell them.  It will show them that you are good at communicating, it will also give them the chance to respond to any queries you may have and address any concerns. Communicating honestly is good practice and will do more good than harm. 

  2. Too many tests and assessments which frustrate the applicant.

    Testing skills can be helpful, but tests for tests sake can be frustrating and off putting, especially if the applicant is working full-time and has to fit in a number of assessments into their working week. if you will assess a candidate then consider whether it would be better to do this at the first or second stage of the interview, and also how much time the applicant is likely to have to complete your assessments. If you decide to do assessments at the very beginning, it might be best to meet the applicants first to engage the best candidates before testing them. Starting off the process with a test might have the opposite affect for those job seekers who have very heavy workloads, and could put them off applying for your role altogether.

  3. They weren’t really keen to leave in the first place…

    ….but wanted to see what was out there to compare with what they were doing, or they were just using it to get an internal promotion. I had to tell a candidate last month that I couldn’t help them at all as it was clear they ahd no intention of leaving their current employer. They explained that they were only using the interview experience to push an internal promotion.

Manuela Boyce

by Manuela Boyce on July 29, 2016

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