Dealing with Rejection: What To Do When Your Candidate Says No

It burns when the perfect candidate declines the job offer.

After spending all that time and effort building a relationship, and having done all the necessary work for the candidate, hearing a ‘no’ can be very frustrating.

Understanding the reason behind the rejection and what you can do about it, might be the secret to securing your next placement. So before you hit ‘send’ on that snarky email, resist the urge.

Bouncing back from rejection isn’t difficult as you think...all it takes is some professionalism and a little more empathy. Follow these 3 steps and a big, fat placement might be just round the corner:

1.Why ‘No’?

The first and most logical step you should take is figure out why the candidate said ‘no’ in the first place.  Start with a follow- up call and ask why. Getting insights as to why the job was not accepted will help you understand the reason behind the last minute decision, and give you a chance to improve the job offer for your candidate.

There are many possible reasons why the job was rejected, but here are 3 of the most common:

The counter-offer

This happens when a candidate is given a counter-offer by their existing employee. If a candidate is really good, it’s natural for an employer to try to keep them by making a better deal.

A useful tip would be to make sure you’ve adequately prepared the candidate for what might happen in a counter-offer situation. An effective way is to role-play the conversation so if the counter offer does come, the candidate is able to handle the situation appropriately.

A better deal

This usually happens when the candidate receives a ‘more appealing’ job offer.

Chances are, you’re not the only recruiter that’s on the hunt for great candidates. Top talent won’t wait around when they are in demand and they have many options to pick from. If your competition is offering a similar opportunity and an expedited process, it might just be the reason why you missed out on a great candidate.

You didn’t listen

When a candidate rejects an offer, it’s probably because what you delivered didn’t meet their expectations. Ask yourself this: Are you really offering the candidate what he/she wanted?

Are you listening to your candidates? Or are you simply hearing? There’s a major difference. Spoken messages are like icebergs; only the peak is seen, all the rest is hidden and implied.

The candidate might have doubts about the role or doubts about the company like size, location & financial status, but didn’t quite say it out loud. Reading body language and tone of voice might also be clues as to how the candidate is really feeling about the job.

Perhaps the candidate wasn’t ready to move yet, or was just testing the market. Make sure you know what your candidates really, really want.

When it comes to job offers, it’s best to present the offer in person and walk the candidate through each part to make sure there's no room for misinterpretation and gauge their reaction.

2.Take Action

Once you’ve nailed down the reason(s) why the job offer was rejected, it’s time to take action.

For each reason the candidates gives, find a solution. If it’s related to salary and benefits, work with your client to see what you can do to sweeten the deal. If it’s something more, the best thing to do is to ask candidate if there’s anything you can do so that he/she accepts the job offer.

3.Let It Go

If it still doesn’t work out, take what you’ve learned and let it go. When a candidate accepts a role they believe is the best fit for them, that’s great news. A job offer is just like any other business transaction so don’t take it personally when a candidate declines.

The best thing about being a recruiter is the fact that a ‘no’ right now, doesn’t mean ‘no’ forever. You’ll have a better role and a better compensation package for the candidate in future. Even though you didn’t win over the candidate this time, if you continue building trust and maintaining a good relationship, you’ll win next time.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. How would you respond to a candidate who rejected the offer? Any advice or stories on how you deal with candidate rejection? Comment below!


Weaponizing recruiters through Tech.

Vincere is the all-in-one platform for recruitment and staffing agencies worldwide. Designed to weaponize recruitment businesses through cutting-edge tech, Vincere's suite of modules are natively built and pre-integrated from day one.


Vincere (in Latin) 'to win, to conquer'

Pronounced /vin-cheri/