What To Do When a Candidate Rejects an Offer

Steve Lowisz
It’s one of the toughest parts in recruiting. You can do everything right...and still fall short when a candidate decides to walk away. 

With the right approach, you can use this as an opportunity to build your network and improve your recruiting. Here’s how.

Show Some Grace

Look, we get it. When a candidate turns down an offer, all your hard work and time spent to get to that point is wasted. It can be very frustrating!

But look at it from the candidate’s point of view. They have to make the best decision for themselves and their career...and they must put their needs ahead of you and your client.

It’s ok to communicate disappointment, but don’t try to guilt trip anyone. It never hurts to wish them luck in the future, and if you’re impressed with the candidate overall, plant a seed for continuing the relationship.

Ask “Would you be interested in future positions I’m filling?”

Ask Them Why

Never jump to conclusions about why a candidate is declining the offer. Whether it’s money, a competing offer, the candidate experience, or something else, ask the candidate about their decision.

This isn’t about arguing or trying to force the position on the candidate. It’s about better understanding the candidate in case you have future positions for them. It also helps you understand how other candidates may feel about the same offer.

Look at it as a learning lesson. This could be your opportunity to find out that your client is lowballing candidates for their particular experience and skill sets. 

Stay in Touch

Recruiting is all about relationships. Just because this wasn’t the right role at the right time for a candidate doesn’t mean they won’t be a great fit down the road.

If the candidate had the right skills, attitude and experience, stay in touch. Check in every few months or so to see how they’re doing and what’s new.

Sooner or later you’ll be trying to fill a similar position and this candidate could be your ace in the hole. 

Consider How Candidate Experience Factored In 

A declined offer is a great time to step back and look at the bigger picture. Did the client take their sweet time extending an offer? Did the candidate have to go through too many interviews

Sometimes, there’s nothing to be done about a candidate backing out. But oftentimes, the candidate experience plays a part. Use this as an opportunity to look at how you could improve the experience for everyone to increase offer acceptance rates in the future.