Why They Turned Down Your Job Offer

02/03/2017   Recruitment advice  

Making sure that your first choice candidate accepts your job offer is going to be a challenge for many technology teams in the coming months. The market is incredibly buoyant, and a strong candidate will have their pick of opportunities.

If you’re experiencing too many job offer rejections, you may need to reflect on how you’re approaching your hiring strategy, and consider making some changes. Here are some of the most common reasons we see that are behind a rejected offer, and some solutions to mitigate these and improve your job offer to acceptance ratio.


Salaries are increasing very quickly at the moment. We speak to people that say they are looking for, as an example, a £50,000 basic salary. A month later, when they’ve got a better grasp of the market, they have increased this to £55,000 or even £60,000.

To ensure you are competitive in your offer, you need to make sure you’re offering a salary at the market rate, and be prepared to be flexible in areas where talent is in short supply.

In reality, we know that some companies struggle with getting sign off for increases, especially at the end of the recruitment process, but there are strategies to mitigate this. Have budgetary conversations early so that you know what you can do. If you can’t move on the starting salary, can you offer something else that may be attractive? An improved bonus, share options, or perhaps a raise after a given time in the role. While we wouldn’t say that you need to enter a bidding war, as most candidates aren’t wholly motivated by money, in the current climate, it’s important that you offer them a fair package for their market value - or they'll join an organisation that do.


The interview process needs to reflect your company culture, and give candidates a real insight into the role they’re interviewing for. Long, overly formalised interview processes can stress out interviewees and give the wrong idea about the kind of company you are. An interview should be, as far as is reasonable, a relaxed process that gives each person involved the chance to explore their fit for the role. On the technical assessment side, discuss a real problem you’re working on (NB: That is not asking interviewees to invert a binary tree unless it's actually in any way relevant to the role!). Make sure your interviewer is engaged, and well trained - there’s nothing more uninspiring for an interviewee than being met by a distracted interviewer that reads off a sheet. Each interview, as well as assessing the candidate’s suitability for the role, is a chance for the candidate to assess your organisation's suitability for them.

You could look at asking recent hires for some honest feedback, or even consider sitting down and attempting a bit of your own hiring process, to see where you might be able to make improvements.


Waiting weeks for interview feedback, having a phone call rearranged at the last minute with no apology ... these are pretty familiar scenarios for many job seekers. Time is perhaps the most damaging factor in any offer.

While you’re delaying, your top candidate may well be getting offers elsewhere. There’s also a psychological element to a slow decision that can turn candidates off. Some worry you’re not going to offer, or that they are the second choice because it's taking so long, and so when the offer does arrive, they’re no longer brought in to you as an employer.

Focus on working to streamline your recruitment process as much as possible, making sure that everyone who needs to be involved is available, and any bottlenecks are assessed regularly - the aim should always be to ensure that every candidate you invite into your recruitment process, successfully or not, has a good experience, with prompt feedback at all stages. If you notice that, for example, the telephone screening portion of your process, where HR carry out a cultural fit assessment, is taking weeks to get booked in, good candidates will leave the process as they will have likely been offered other opportunities. Sit down with the relevant people and see what you can do to improve this, perhaps integrating this part of the process with another interview. This is especially important at the end when you're preparing to make an offer. Ideally, you should be looking to get this decision process down to within 24 hours to minimise the risk of time killing your offer.

Counter offers

As employers seek to retain their top performers, we’re seeing an increase in counter offers made, and sometimes the candidate is just too tempted to stay. However, we’d always advise that you end the process on good terms and keep in touch - the majority of candidates who accept a counter offer are back on the jobs market within six months because the underlying reasons for their original search can't be resolved with a pay rise.

Finding people with the right mix of technical experience, cultural alignment and soft skills is a challenge for any organisation, so it's important to look carefully at your recruitment process, and ensure it's optimised as much s possible to make sure that the people that you want to join your organisation accept the offer of employment.

If you would like any advice on improving your recruitment process, get in touch with us here, and we can offer you honest and consultative insight on every stage of the recruitment process.