Why Candidates Turn Down Job Offers (and How to Prevent Rejections)

The best candidates, especially right now, have the opportunity to be picky. They might be staring down several great job offers at once, knowing they must choose just one.

If you want to be their lucky new employer, you’ll need to understand why candidates turn down job offers — even if they’re good.

Top 7 Reasons Someone Declines a Job Offer

Here are the primary reasons candidates say “no” after receiving a job offer.

1. Poor Hiring Process Experiences

Research from CareerPlug found that 58% of job seekers have declined a job offer after a poor hiring process experience. In addition, 80% of their research showed a positive experience helped lead to an offer acceptance.

How a candidate is treated during the recruitment and hiring process matters. Recruiters, hiring managers, and other interviewers should focus on making the process enjoyable and effective for the interviewees. That includes:

  • Being friendly, approachable, and positive towards the candidate
  • Scheduling interviews quickly
  • Communicating clearly about what the candidate can expect during each stage

Remember that candidates are people; many feel stressed and nervous while job seeking. Approach the hiring process with empathy and respect for each candidate’s time to ensure they leave with a positive experience — whether you end up sending a job offer or not.

2. Pay and Benefits Weren’t Good Enough

You might have offered a competitive salary and benefits package, but someone else offered more. Although employees care about solid company culture and work-life balance, the numbers don’t lie.

Many companies are now putting compensation and benefits in their job postings so that candidates know what to expect immediately. This can help save time and target the candidates most fitting for what you have to offer.

If there’s room for negotiation, you could list a salary range or minimum. Just be prepared to counter other offers if you want to win over a competitive candidate.

3. The Job Responsibilities Didn’t Meet Expectations

Once a candidate starts interviewing with you, they might realize the job role is different than they thought. If they learn this later in the process, it can lead to resentment and disappointment. The candidate might turn down an offer for these reasons.

You can combat this by being honest and upfront about the job from the start. Make sure the job posting covers the most critical requirements and tasks involved in the position. Also, ensure all interviewers ask questions related to the job duties.

4. The Interview Was Too Easy

Glassdoor data shows that candidates applying for technical or professional industry jobs expect more difficult interviews. They’re more likely to accept an offer if the interview felt more challenging.

While you don’t want the interview process to feel impossible, consider increasing the difficulty level by offering chances for candidates to test and showcase their experience and skills. Presentations, skill tests, and small take-home assignments are potential options. (Although take-home assignments are controversial, so proceed with caution.)

5. Negative Glassdoor Reviews

When you reach out to schedule an interview, the candidate will undoubtedly search your company online. And what they find can influence whether or not they accept a job offer down the road.

Gain a strong understanding of how you come across on sites like Glassdoor, Yelp, Google, and LinkedIn. If your image is less than ideal, focus on ways to improve. Also, prepare to address any concerns the candidate brings up during an interview.

6. Concerns About Culture and Work-Life Balance

The new workforce cares a lot about strong company culture and solid work-life balance. If your offerings for either are subpar to other companies, a candidate is more likely to turn down your job.

7. You Waited Too Long to Make the Offer

As we’ve said, the best candidates might receive more than one offer around the same time. Just as you’re interviewing several people for one position, candidates are interviewing with other companies. If you wait too long to move the interview process forward and make the offer, the candidate could say “yes” to a more responsive company.

Make a point to stay in touch throughout the process, providing the candidate with clear next steps and expectations.

How to Prevent Job Offer Rejections

If you want to hire more of your ideal candidates, you need to improve the candidate experience. Take the above reasons for rejections, and focus on doing better in these areas.

Show empathy, know your target candidates, and work on active and passive recruitment strategies to foster a relationship with current and future applicants.