Debriefing after a candidate rejects your job offer

You were ready to close a position that had been open for months, your team sourced and vetted dozens of candidates for a position that is important to the success of your organization, you organized travel and day long interview sessions for the top three candidates, the hiring manager and others involved during the interview stage all agreed on who the top candidate is, and you made what you thought was a very competitive offer for that candidate only to have them turn it down…What happens next? What happens when a candidate rejects your job offer?

First off, figure out why the candidate said no. It’s much better to have them tell you then you spend time and effort second guessing yourself. Some factors you can control while others you cannot. Possible reasons for the rejection include

  1. Salary: Came in below expectations
  2. Personal Reasons: Not ready to relocate or not ready to leave current employer
  3. Counteroffer: Their existing company offered them more money (it is generally accepted that this is not a good reason to stay at a company)
  4. The candidate lost interest in your company or the position they interviewed for
    1. The interview process was too long
    2. The job was not what they thought it was
    3. The hiring manager didn’t show a lot of interest in the candidate
    4. The candidate did not enjoy their time during the in-person interview
    5. The candidate researched your company and decided that it wouldn’t be a good fit for them or their career
    6. The offer did not include several provisions that were important to the candidate

If the candidate was cordial with you in giving a response as to why they declined the offer, try to ask them for feedback about the interviewing and hiring process. See if they can give any insight regarding underlying factors that may have compelled their decision.

These conversations could very well be awkward but the information provided by the candidate could help prevent this from happening again. It also gives the candidate an opportunity to address their concerns in a private rather than public setting (LinkedIn, Glassdoor etc).

Once you’ve identified the reason the candidate rejected the offer, it’s time to debrief with those involved in the hiring process and share with them what you know and ask if anyone could identify something they could have done differently to get a better outcome. More times than not, there isn’t much you can do, but if you find a flaw in your process, make some adjustments so it doesn’t happen again.


Paragon Search Group is a privately owned American recruiting firm specializing in permanent positions in BIOTECH (Process Development, CMC/Reg Affairs, Manufacturing, Project Management, Quality) and BANKING (Compliance, Risk, Credit, Audit, Marketing, Treasury) and MINING (Engineering, Project Management, Operations/Management: plant, underground, mine) for companies ranging in size from startup to Fortune 50 throughout North America.

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