Why Candidates Might Decline What Looks Like a Perfect Offer

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Why Candidates Might Decline What Looks Like a Perfect Offer

A company is ready to hire after finding the perfect fit. But when the job offer is extended, the candidate responds, “No, thanks.”

What gives?

Wes Ashworth from Lee Group Search offers the top reasons behind a rejection.


A discouraging wait

It’s a magical feeling when you finally get that call from a company sizing up your interest. You interview well and are asked back for a more in-depth discussion. Any day now you’re expecting a decision.

Only your phone doesn’t ring, and the weeks pass. Your enthusiasm wanes. You wrestle with what could have gone wrong in your head and ask yourself if you’re being ghosted. Perhaps you start looking for something else or decide an entirely different career path presents a more viable option.

Then, voila! That anticipated offer comes your way at last. Only you’re not as jazzed about the prospect as you were a month ago.

“Some companies take way too long to make an offer,” Ashworth says. “When a company is indecisive, that sends a message to the candidate that there’s a lack of interest. Often, they’ve already moved on to interview with another company.”

The courting process works both ways, Ashworth stresses. Lengthy recruitment leaves a lasting negative impression. In the beginning, the employer’s expectations can overshadow a candidate’s preferences, but once the process deepens, that can shift. It’s not just about the company interviewing a candidate. The candidate also interviews the company.

Waiting too long for the decision becomes a turnoff. Top talent, in particular, takes that as a sign to explore what else is out there.

“We had a company interview a candidate once and just never did anything to show the candidate the exciting parts of what they were doing,” Ashworth says. “The companies that are really getting talent are ones that understand it is equally as important for them to court and get this candidate excited about joining a new place.”

Further, a candidate could interpret a hiring process hampered by bureaucracy as a sign of overall inefficiency and a red flag signaling how difficult it will be to get anything accomplished on the job.


Work-life balance

Established candidates looking to make career moves typically have ample vacation days and accrued significant time off. A new position means you’re starting with a fresh slate. It’s not uncommon for companies to offer two weeks of paid time off or sometimes, just one to the new hire.

“For a lot of people these days, that’s not enough,” Ashworth says.

Even if the salary exceeds expectations, employees are increasingly valuing their lives outside of the office. Workers accustomed to multiple weeks of vacation rarely want to give that up. With the increasing focus on wellness to avoid burnout, a less-than-optimal vacation package can be a turnoff.


The unknown

You’ve heard of embracing “the devil you know”? You might not be satisfied with your current work environment, but you find comfort in a familiar setting with peers you’ve worked alongside for years and expectations defined. Starting something new carries risk. A new company with a different culture and a position you consider challenging sounds ideal — until it doesn’t. Change can be daunting. It’s not out of the ordinary for an employee to take stock of the situation and decide the present really isn’t so bad.

“We counsel clients the whole way through on what change looks like,” Ashworth says. “But when all of the sudden the change becomes real, they might go the other way.”

Sometimes the decision to stay put becomes the most attractive one.


Wait! Don’t go!

When a candidate informs an employer of another opportunity, it’s not unusual for that employer to respond with a counteroffer. Suddenly, the decision to walk away isn’t so clear cut.

“These counteroffers become more and more enticing and considerable if the company has lingered in making a decision, returned with a ‘good’ but not ‘ideal’ offer, or extends a less-than-favorable relocation package,” says Eric Kean, Principal of The Lee Group. “These things become very amplified when a counteroffer is presented.”

Kean points out candidates are often “fate-based” during their decision process.

“One little isolated thing on its own might not be that big of a deal, but when you have two or three little things add up that aren’t ideal, they can add up to a big issue,” Kean says. “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.”


Money talks

Not all employers are upfront about salary. A candidate anticipating being on the high range of compensation might feel lowballed by a potential employer.

Lee Group Search works to avoid this pitfall with transparency from the beginning about salary expectations. Anything less would be wasting time for both the candidate and the company.