5 reasons your candidate said "no."

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Hiring great talent is hard. And when you’ve invested time and energy to source, screen and interview candidates, it can be a blow when your top choice declines your job offer. Each day your position goes unfilled impacts your bottom line, so you’ll want to assess the cause of the refusal and act quickly to remedy it. Here are five areas you should investigate if your top candidates never make it on board.

job description

Job seekers generally apply to a position based on the requirements and responsibilities outlined in the job description. If what you’ve outlined doesn’t match what’s later discussed, you’ll likely see a lot of applicants dropping out during the interview process — or worse, at the point of the offer.

If you’re running into this problem, try revisiting your job descriptions. Review and edit them for clarity, avoiding buzzwords and jargon that may be misinterpreted. Make sure it illustrates the position’s responsibilities clearly and gives a good idea of its skill threshold.  


Our employer branding research found that salary and benefits are the most important factors candidates look for in a potential employer. Online research tools allow savvy job seekers to know what they're worth, and you’ll need to offer at least market rate to attract top talent. If your organization lacks offerings like flexibility and a pleasant work atmosphere, you may need to increase your compensation.

See all 2018 salaries by industry and job title.


Your company’s culture should reflect the core values of your organization, and your employees should understand how their contributions tie back to its mission. Your culture should promote personal growth, celebrate success and embrace diversity. Today’s workplace comprises multiple generations, each with their own unique work styles and needs. An attractive employer provides support to foster partnerships and communication across all of them.

Our recent research shows that Millennials and Generation Z seek an open, collaborative culture. They believe the most effective way to communicate is in person and expect frequent and ongoing feedback from their managers. If you find that candidates from these generations aren’t accepting your offers, or aren’t thriving once they’re hired, you should evaluate whether your culture supports those needs.  

perks and benefits

With the high demand for qualified talent, you’ll want to be sure that your offer is more attractive than your competitors’. Investigate the employer traits that job seekers demand, and see if you can accommodate them. We’ve determined that flexibility is the most important employee benefit to Millennials and Gen Z. But did you know that Gen X is the group most likely to walk away from their current jobs in the absence of flexible work options? With this latter group not only caring for children, but also their aging parents, this factor alone may cause them to refuse your offer, even if it includes a lucrative salary. If your organization cannot offer a flexible schedule or remote options, it’s best to make it known early so that you don’t waste time with those who won’t consider a traditional 9-5.

Take an audit of the subsidies and allowances that you do provide. Be sure to promote them throughout the recruiting process. Analyze your benefits package and determine if your offerings are on par with the market. A Harvard Business Review study found that better health, dental and vision insurance could sway job seekers into accepting a lower-paying job.

recruitment process

With unemployment rates at record lows in many states, employers need to secure quality talent fast. A long or disorganized recruitment process generally results in lost candidates. You must determine ways to source, recruit, interview and make offers to candidates before they accept competing ones. Here are a few simple tips to speed up your hiring process.

  • Map out your current recruiting workflow, and see where bottlenecks exist. Aim to simplify these steps to gain efficiencies.
  • Look at your online application process, and be sure it’s intuitive and mobile-friendly.
  • Ask for references early so it doesn’t create a delay when it’s time to make a decision.
  • Have your budget preapproved, and know in advance where you're able to negotiate.

from no to yes

Consult with your colleagues and HR department to see if offer refusals are a trend in your organization or if your situation was isolated. If it happens frequently, identify the similarities and remedy those pain points. With a few adjustments, you’ll be well on your way to signed offer letters.

next up: 7 things to do when a candidate rejects your offer   

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