Houston expert: Here's why your top candidate turned down your job offer
One of the most disappointing (and costly) things as a hiring manager is when your top candidate declines the job offer. You spend months defining target skills and characteristics, reviewing résumés and interviewing candidates to narrow down to your finalist of choice. You put together what you believe is a strong offer, and the candidate says “no.” What went wrong?
It’s not an employer’s job market anymore. In this transformed workplace, and at a time of historically low unemployment, it is very much an employee’s market, and he/she can afford to be selective. Below are some common reasons candidates turn down job offers and what you can do to prevent them.
No. 1: The interview process took too long
It takes time to identify the right fit, and a typical hiring process will often involve 2-3 interviews with decision makers in different locations. You also want to pinpoint a candidate you like and compare him/her to other candidates. When all is said and done, you’re often looking at an interview process that can take 6-8 weeks. During this time, it’s critical to stay in touch with the candidate. A simple email with a status update will help keep them engaged. This is also a great time to check references, showing the candidate your continued interest.
While you’re focused on filling the position, it’s easy to forget candidates have deadlines, too. A lengthy interview process with periods of little interaction can make a candidate feel you don’t respect his/her time or make your company appear disorganized, something they may be leery of based on past experience. Setting expectations upfront and maintaining open lines of communication are key in this candidate-driven environment.
Equally important to an efficient hiring process is encouraging non-essential decision makers to let go after a certain point. For example, once a small sized business graduates to a midsized company, a CEO should not make the mistake of thinking they have to talk to every single prospect. They need to approve them. Delegating and trust are key.
No. 2: You didn’t ‘sell’ the opportunity enough
It’s easy to forget interviews are as much about the candidate interviewing you as you interviewing the candidate. While you want to assess the person’s skills and cultural fit, the candidate wants to know how the role will match his/her personal and professional goals. Heck, they want to know how it stacks up against other jobs for which they might be applying!
Career growth is something every candidate wants. It’s critical for the hiring manager to discuss training and personal development opportunities. This is particularly important for millennials, who are often more motivated by the ability to learn and grow than they are by an increase in financial compensation. It’s also important to talk about the company culture and what makes you stand out. Bottom line: You want the candidate to leave the interview knowing he/she will be appreciated by your company and will get an experience that can’t be found elsewhere. To this end, expressing genuine interest in their life outside of work (loved ones, what makes them tick, etc.) can make all the difference.
No. 3: Lack of employer brand appeal
Companies spend a lot of time branding their products and services but don’t always think about how they look to future employees. Your M.O. is how you show candidates what it’s like to work for you. This includes their overall interview process experience, reviews on websites like Glassdoor, as well as posts your company and employees share on social media.
Let candidates get to know your company through posts. Show your team having fun together, being involved in the community and as customer-focused professionals. Employees also give hints about their work experience in their own social content. If they’re happy, it’ll show in their online activity.
These first three reasons for why a job offer might be turned down are all about how a hirer makes a candidate feel, but the fine print matters too.
No. 4: Job duties
It may seem like a no-brainer that a job description should be well-written, but more often than not, it’s unclear what will be expected of said employee. When you do the internal work ahead of time, getting alignment on what’s required and the intricacies of the existing (or new) position, it leaves little room for misunderstanding and/or disappointment post-hire.
No. 5: Compensation and benefits
Lastly, a strong compensation and benefits package is critical in securing your top pick. For some roles, that will mean an offer heavily weighed on the salary side. For others, it will be uncapped commissions or the opportunity for equity. Make sure the package is competitive with the industry, and will appeal to your ideal candidate and make him/her want to join your team.
Remember to think “outside the box” with extra benefits like flexible work hours, the ability to work remotely, PTO/unlimited sick days or vacation. The cost to implement these perks is low, but they often mean more to the candidate than higher pay.
In today’s employee-driven job market, top candidates are looking for a comprehensive package, growth opportunities, and a welcoming work environment that will provide lasting happiness and satisfaction.
Hazel Kassu is the managing director of Houston-based recruiting firm, Sudduth Search.