What to do when your top candidate rejects your job offer

what to do when a candidate rejects a job offer

Rejection sucks, even when it’s just business. Here’s how to learn from your mistakes and move on after your top candidate rejects your job offer

When your top candidate rejects your job offer, it can feel like your world is crashing down.

You’ve put weeks of work into writing a job description, sourcing candidates, sending out tasks and going through countless interviews – for nothing.

Or at least that’s how it feels. We know that being rejected by your top candidate can really suck, but it’s not actually the end of the world.

In a few steps you will be on your way to making another job offer – and having it accepted by an excited candidate – in no time.

If you need any extra help drafting a professional, excited and persuasive job offer letter we have a free download for you!

1 – Stay calm and polite

It’s easy to go into panic-mode when you get news like this. But it’s super important to stay calm and collected, despite the dissapointment.

Hopefully you heard the bad news over email and not the phone, so you’ve got some time to think thorugh your reply.

Either way, you’ve done most of the hard work already. Setbacks like this happen constantly in recruitment. Sometimes it just takes a couple of tries to find your next co-worker.

2 – Find out why

Now that we’ve taken a breather, it’s important to think about your response.

I’d really recommend that you don’t dismiss and move on too quickly.

When talented candidate rejects your job offer, the most crucial things to do is ask them why.

Send a simple message communicating your disappointment and asking for a reason why.

It’s important to remember that the problem might be with you, not them. This person has just been through your entire hiring process, and the fact that they’re not onboard can still be valuable.

Asking for feedback and an explanation is always a smart move.

3 – Assess your process and make changes

Once you’ve heard from your ex-top candidate, you can start to be more proactive. If this is one of your first times trying to hire someone into your business, there might be some criticisms coming your way.

When a top candidate rejects your job offer, there could be a lot of factors at play.

Below are some of the most common reasons why your candidate might have decided to reject your job offer. Once you figure out the issue, I’d recommend revamping your offer and process for the next time!

what to do when a candidate rejects a job offer

A – They received a competitive counter-offer

Salary is one of the biggest factors that can make-or-break your chances of success.

As you can guess, the top candidates for you are probably the top candidates for someone else.

So expect your all-star candidate to be considering other job offers alongside yours.

This is where paying minimum wage can bite you. Sometimes you need to re-assess your budget and benefits programme if you want to hire the best.

We’ve written an article about how to advertise and figure out the right salary for your job descriptions.

B – Your public image sucks

The reviews that your past clients and employees leave on Glassdoor and Feefo can seriously hurt you down the line. So if your ex-candidate cites a negative review as their biggest turn off, I’d always start looking there first.

But the trouble with these sites is that you can’t just delete all the bad press.

If your hiring efforts are being hurt by bad reviews, you need to take action. And I don’t just mean comment on the bad reviews and start a fight. Actually, don’t do that at all!

I mean that asking your most trusted employees, past co-workers and clients to leave a kind review can be the good press you need to make an all-star hire.

C – Look at your timings

Did your hiring process take less than a week? Or more than a month?

Being too eager or too slow can really put some candidates off. Both are big red flags that either show desperation or rudeness!

If your candidate applied for the role and you were immediately typing their number into your phone – there’s your problem. When you neglect regular hiring processes like interviews and tasks, 99 times out of 100 you make the wrong hiring decision. And your candidate will know what an honest hiring process looks like!

On the other hand, if your candidate applied for the role and then heard nothing for weeks on end – there’s a problem too! Candidates will only stay interested for so long before they move on to other opportunities.

Getting back to candidates after a few days is usually good practice.

4 – Go to your backups

And once you’ve discovered just what went wrong, return to your shortlist, look through your backups and reassess.

Wait… is something wrong?

If you’ve gotten this far and realised that you’ve already rejected every other semi-decent candidate, you might have to start from square one.

And that really can feel like the end of the world.

But don’t worry, if you’re hiring through DigitalGrads you can trust that we have talented, trained backups waiting in the wings to save you from failure. Sign in today to check out your all-star shortlist and start making job offers that get accepted the first time.

About post author

Hi, I'm Daisy. I'm using my passion for writing to work with DigitalGrads on their content and social media campaigns.
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