What to do when a candidate is declining a job offer

By Robert Half on 25 May 2018

For many hiring managers, losing a perfect candidate – for whatever reason – can create unnecessary roadblocks for your business and force you to repeat an expensive and exhausting process.

However, a no-show candidate doesn’t have to spell disaster – it can actually help you fine-tune your hiring decisions and pave the way for a better strike rate down the track.

Here are three steps that you can take if a candidate is declining a job offer to keep the conversation going.

Extend an offer of help

If your new hire says they’re not prepared to commence the role for “personal reasons”, make sure you don’t get angry or jump to conclusions about why they’re failing to go ahead. In some cases, they might be going through a challenging personal time or dealing with a career-altering issue.

Your best bet is to start a conversation about the obstacles they’re facing and suggest an alternative – such as employer-subsidised counselling or flexible working arrangements – that can empower them to do the job while addressing their personal needs.

If you show you’re willing to invest in them, it might encourage them to proceed.

Keep the lines of communication open

Although it’s unacceptable for a new hire to fail to show up on their start date, there might be other factors at play. In this case, make every effort to contact your hire and remain level-headed when discussing the situation – it’s possible they suffered from cold feet.

However, if the new candidate won’t take your calls or return your emails, it’s time to accept that they're declining your job offer.

This is the perfect time to review your hiring strategy and consider introducing new interview questions, personality tests or selection criteria so that you can find a better match.

Be flexible if they're declining a job offer

Occasionally, your ideal hire might decide that the position simply isn’t for them.

If this is the case, speak to them openly about their career aspirations and work out whether you can modify the role or come up with a secondment that can bridge the gap between the job you’ve offered and their dreams.

If there is no solution, accept the situation but offer motivation that will make it easier for them to take their next step.

Investing in your relationship with a good candidate doesn’t end when they decline a job offer – there might be a chance to work together in the future.

Although it’s difficult to lose your dream hire, there are ways to prevent a bad situation from becoming worse. If you treat it as an opportunity to improve your recruitment process, you won’t make the same mistakes next time.

Do you need help hiring? For assistance or advice, contact your local Robert Half office.

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