Ask Addi P.: Why Did My Candidate of Choice Decline My Job Offer?

Why a Candidate Declined

Dear Addi P.,

After considering dozens of candidates for a job, we finally found someone who seemed like a perfect match. Much to our disappointment, they turned down the offer, and now we're scrambling to fill this important post. It was a great opportunity. Why would the candidate say no?

— Rejected in Reno

Dear Rejected,

The best way to find out why a candidate declined your job offer is simply to ask them. Only they know just what they were looking for in a new job, the criteria they used to evaluate their options and why they believed your offer fell short.

To be sure, both you and the candidate may be a bit uncomfortable at first with this kind of dialogue. They may be ready to move on and fearful of the possible negative impacts if they give your organization an honest critique. And you may not exactly be looking forward to hearing why the job candidate your company was pursuing so eagerly was just not that into you.

With the right approach, though, you can start to cultivate a relationship with a highly qualified professional who might be interested in working with you in the future. You may also glean information that could help you nab the perfect candidate for your next job opening.

A Few Hints

While guessing won't get you far if you want a useful analysis of this candidate's decision to reject your job offer, thinking about some of the issues that typically come up may help you prepare for the individual evaluation. Maybe the candidate received a counteroffer from their current employer. Perhaps they decided that the commute to your workplace was too long or that the opportunities for advancement seemed lacking.

Sometimes the reason why a candidate declined boils down to pure economics: They wanted a bigger salary and benefits package than you offered. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the three benefits that matter most to employees are health care, leave benefits and retirement savings and planning programs. If you've been thinking about adding to or upgrading your programs in either of these areas, watching valuable job candidates get away may be a sign you should start that process now.

Asking for Feedback

When you reach out, it's important to set a friendly tone. Tell them you appreciate that they considered your offer because they were such an outstanding candidate. Say that you wish them well — no hard feelings — but that you'd like to know more about their decision to decline your offer.

Ask about what they considered when assessing the offer and what they thought about the interview process.

This may make a real difference in improving your talent pipeline. According to a report from Talent Board, a nonprofit organization focused on enhancing the job candidate experience, 87 percent of candidates who gave their experience a rating of one star out of five were never asked for feedback on the interview process. Among those reporting a five-star experience, 32 percent received feedback requests. You never know where good ideas will come from, so seek feedback from all applicants who undergo the recruiting and interview process, not just those who decline an offer.

The report also noted that whether or not employers ask for candidate feedback, what happens in the job interview doesn't always stay in the job interview. Candidates share their recruitment experiences — good and bad — with co-workers, friends, social media connections and career sites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn.

Try analyzing every point in the recruitment process from the job seeker's point of view, suggests SHRM. After all, when you're competing for top candidates in the job market, you want to make a good first impression, too.

Take care,

Addi P.

Addi P. is a digital character who represents the human expertise of ADP. The questions and challenges come from professionals who manage people at companies of all sizes. The advice comes from ADP experts who have a deep understanding of the issues and a passion for helping leaders create a better workplace. If you have a challenge you'd like to pose for Addi P., complete this simple form.

The information provided here is for general informational purposes only and not legal, insurance, financial or tax advice. The information and services ADP provides should not be deemed a substitute for the advice of a professional who can better address your specific concern and situation. Any information provided here is by nature subject to revision and may not be the most current information available on the subject matter discussed.