Breaking the cycle: why candidates are rejecting your offers

2018-02-01 | BY Jerry McMillin | IN Hiring

Breaking the cycle: why candidates are rejecting your offers

No question, it’s a tough time to be an employer. With unemployment at a 17-year low, qualified professionals have their pick of companies. Regardless of award-winning culture, competitive benefit packages, and generous bonuses, candidates – empowered by a buoyant market – are going to sometimes refuse your offers.

It’s when this becomes the norm – when the majority of your candidates, having devoted hours of their time to interviews and tests, decide against you – that you need to carefully evaluate your hiring process.  At what point is it falling apart? When is the person losing interest? What can be done to change their mind?

It comes down to a few simple changes and an intentional shift in perspective. Drawn directly from candidate interviews, this 5-step quick-guide will help you isolate your pain points and make them work for you – and your future workforce.

1. Develop a meaningful partnership.

The best professionals aren’t actively pursuing a change of career; they’re dedicated, motivated, and usually already employed in an excellent work place. Gaining access to these hard-won candidates will require deploying your most powerful weapon – a seasoned recruiter or hiring manager, tasked with finding your “perfect match.”

If you’ve opted to work with an external recruiter, you’ll need to balance your needs as a company with the recruiter’s knowledge and abilities. True partnership in this sense doesn’t involve forwarding a basic job description and salary estimate – it means letting a staffing firm into your environment, giving them access to your people, and discussing with them your core principles. It means allowing them the opportunity to get to know your company and what it truly has to offer.

Candidates need tangible, specific examples of your “awesome culture,” “open workspace,” “competitive benefits,” and “opportunities for professional growth,” in order to see themselves fitting into the role. A strong and transparent partnership – both with your recruiter and with your prospective employees – will help you to better showcase your company’s value.

2. Move quickly and demonstrate continued interest.

The average time from first call to placement for a qualified professional in the San Diego market ranges from 2-6 weeks. The closer to 2 weeks, the more likely the person will accept your offer. It’s simple psychology – people will lose interest in an offer as time goes on, especially if they’re presented with newer, shinier offers in the interim.

Sometimes the 2-week deadline isn’t feasible – depending on the nature of the job, it may require multiple interviews and even a coding test or on-site tour. In this case, it’s crucial to keep lines of communication active and open. It’s on you to provide fast, concise feedback to both recruiters and candidates.

Whenever you know your prospective employee is in for a drawn-out hiring process, make sure to emphasize a specific piece of their background which stood out and impressed you. You’ll make the person feel heard and appreciated, and they’ll be far less likely to entertain competing offers.

3. Provide thorough interview feedback.

The good, the bad, and everything you can possibly think of in between. Recruiters need to know it all, not only to help find you a better-suited candidate, but also to assuage your concerns when appropriate.

Interviews present a uniquely terrifying moment in people’s’ lives. Many will appear timid, quiet, over-confident, unnecessarily verbose, entitled – the list goes on. Phone interviews in particular pose a difficult challenge; few hang up feeling confident in their performance.

The feedback you provide will help recruiters to better coach the candidate, improve upon their shortcomings, and contextualize their behavior. And perhaps most importantly, your feedback will keep the person engaged; whenever possible, it’s essential that you remind them of the marvelous – life-changing! invaluable! all-important! – opportunity at hand. Any positive comments you can offer will be critical in this undertaking.  

4. Before the on-site interview, detail the entire process.

The more information you can provide – a detailed schedule, names of interviewers, break times, etc. – the more comfortable your candidate will be, and the more appreciative they’ll feel of your time and interest.

Of course, this isn’t totally altruistic: if your candidate is at ease, you’ll get a more realistic picture of who they are and how they can contribute to your company.

Remember: the entire process should be collaborative and conversational, not one-sided or hostile. This first interview serves as the foundation of what will hopefully be a long-lasting relationship with your future employee. Start things off right by always speaking to them as a respected and valued team member.

The moment the person feels undervalued or unappreciated, you risk losing them to another company – likely one of your competitors.

5. Identify and address the candidate’s needs from the onset.

Underlying your entire candidate interaction should be the answer to the question “what is it that motivates this person?” Are they dead set on schedule flexibility, or more focused on career growth? Will salary be their biggest deciding factor, or unlimited vacation?

Whatever that crucial element, your hiring manager (not just HR) needs to know about it from the start. If you’re working with a recruiter, speak to them extensively to learn what your prospective employee values most. Once determined, this pressure point should guide your questions, shape your dialogue, and inspire your entire pitch.

Say a person’s focus is on professional growth. Knowing this, the entire process should be framed around where they want to be in 2,3, 5 years, what opportunities you can offer, how promotions are decided, etc. You don’t want to be selling your unlimited vacation policy when what they really want is to make manager in 3 years.

It all comes back to true partnership; you need to commit to learning about your candidates and working with your recruiter to keep them engaged. Give people what they really want – that which other companies haven’t bothered to find out – and you’ll be miles ahead of your competition.

Attracting qualified, motivated candidates is hard enough – you don’t want to lose them in the final stages of the interview process. The key is in forging strategic partnerships with your candidates and recruiters to deliver offers that can’t be refused. Collaboration, transparency, and a clear continued interest can go a long way. But don’t go into this process alone; let’s work together to identify – and sign – the candidates you want. Get in touch. 

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