How to Get Candidates to Accept Your Job Offer

All hiring managers have experienced the difficulty of getting candidates to accept a job offer and you’d be surprised by how common this occurs.

You’ve gone through what feels like hundreds of mediocre resumes, interviewed candidates for weeks, given the same spiel about the role, and finally, by some miracle, you have a candidate you are excited about hiring… only to be told they will not be moving forward with your offer.

And while this can be tough to swallow, it helps to understand the reasons a candidate may turn down a role to help you anticipate objections and refine your hiring strategies. 

Reasons candidates turn down job offers:

1. The applicant received another offer 

This can happen because another interview moved quicker and got an offer out first, as many candidates are “first come first served” when they are active job seekers. 

Other times it can happen because another role offers better compensation or is better suited to their work style — for example if your role is hybrid but they want a fully remote role.

2. The candidate received a counteroffer 

Oftentimes candidates interview when they aren’t getting a raise at their current company. 

So when they interview and get an offer that validates their worth, they will bring that to their current manager to ask for a raise and, if presented with a counteroffer, will stay put in their current job.

3. The candidate was turned off during the interview process 

This happens when interviewers show up late, cancel interviews multiple times or last minute, or when the hiring manager adds steps into an interview process, especially if that step is a take-home assignment.

4. After interviewing, the applicant didn’t feel the role would be a fit

Though disheartening, this is really the best case scenario, because you don’t want to hire a candidate whose heart won’t be in the role.

5. The job applicant ghosted you

Wish I had an explanation for you… this one is just rude and unprofessional!

Now that you know some of the most common reasons why candidates don’t accept your job, there are a few things you can do to make sure this doesn’t happen to you.

The best ways to get candidates to accept your job:

1. Keep the interview process as short as possible

In pre-Covid times, an interview process would often be an initial phone interview, followed by 1 or 2 onsite interviews in which candidates would meet anywhere from 3-5 people. 

In the remote landscape, that could translate to as many as 6 interviews. When you do this, you risk a candidate getting a competing offer before yours. 

Try to keep your interview process to 1-2 steps for contract roles, or 2-3 steps for full-time roles, and ensure they all occur within a few days of each other.

2. Provide prompt feedback and offers throughout the application process 

When candidates don’t hear a “yay” or “nay” within 24 hours, they can take it as a sign of disinterest. 

After all, if you were really excited about them, wouldn’t you urgently be trying to schedule them for the next round so you can get them to join your team ASAP? 

Set expectations with all of your interviewers to send their feedback immediately following the interview while it is fresh in their mind. 

Then, whether working with a recruiter or directly with a candidate, regroup to provide feedback or an offer the same day, or worst case, the next morning. 

3. Discuss salary & compensation expectations early and often 

Candidates’ salary expectations can change during the interview process for a variety of reasons. 

Perhaps as they’ve spoken with more people, they realize the job is going to take more work than the job description depicts — or they’ve done their own research on average salaries in different industries

Or perhaps they’ve started interviewing for other roles that have higher compensation, and realize their market value is higher than what they initially were comfortable with for your position. 

Make sure you do not leave this aspect of the candidate qualifying process until you are ready to extend an offer!

4. Share interview availability, timing and scheduling upfront 

By getting clear on your and your interview team’s schedules as well as the candidates’, you avoid unnecessary delays between interview steps, which can make or break the candidate remaining on the market until you get to the offer stage. 

Navigating this will also shine a light on any upcoming PTO or vacation on either end that could throw a wrench into the interview process.

5. Proactively secure hiring approval from managers

Hiring managers often need approval from either their manager, finance, or HR before extending an offer. 

If you have a final interview scheduled, proactively let those individuals know so that they can be armed and ready to approve as soon as you share the news that you have a candidate you’d like to extend an offer to.

Getting candidates to accept your offer

In order to get a candidate to accept your offer, you want to be transparent about compensation and interview steps, follow through on your word throughout the process, and proceed through the interview process with a degree of urgency — understanding that most candidates are interviewing for at least 2, if not 4 or more roles at a time. 

The quicker you can get the right candidate through the process and extend an offer, the more likely you are to have that candidate accept.

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