Are you a Staffing Partner? Four Reasons Why Practice Candidates Reject Your Offer

Posted by Lawrence Bond August 14, 2019

Unfortunately it happens to all of us – you can find, interview and offer the ideal candidate but retaining them beyond the stage of verbal acceptance is always going to be a struggle.

You can blame the candidate, the recruiter, your HR department or even the weather! You’re certainly not going to love me for what I’m about to say next, but the whole point of this article is to challenge (and hopefully change!) old habits.

When a candidate rejects an offer you thought they would jump at the chance to accept, you might need to ask yourself if there is something you could be doing differently?

Now that I have your attention, let’s break it down and explore some of the top land mines that hold the potential to blow any recruitment process to smithereens.

One: Chinese Whispers

You don’t need me to sit here and tell you how incestuous the practice market can be. Everyone knows someone, candidates move from one firm to join direct competition – sometimes you’re even stuck sharing the same building with said competition! In this kind of industry perception is everything, so it’s always worth doing an admin check to see where your company is at in terms of reputation before the recruitment process has begun. Take a step back and integrate yourself into the mindset of the target candidate. What is going to be their first impression of your firm?

Is your website up to date? I once had a candidate refuse to even go for an interview with a firm because he’d done some background research and thought their website was poor and confusing to navigate.

Are you on If you are – when was the last time you checked it? Last month we had a candidate reject an offer from a Company because when she Googled them, a recent review came up from a current employee of the business. Needless to say, the review wasn’t superb, and the candidate’s perception of the potential new employer was shattered. Even bringing this up during the interview could help a bit further down the line.

It goes without saying but they’re simple words to live by: never burn your bridges.

Two: Are you the Tortoise or are you the Hare?

What is harmless but can kill you? That’s right – time! Moving too slowly is a sure-fire way to kill any recruitment process. Of course you want to do it properly and make sure you get it right, but there’s a fine line between ticking all the boxes and extending what could otherwise be a fairly painless journey. Whilst you’re trying to arrange a third interview for the candidate to meet the team – they’ve already been invited down the pub to learn everyone’s names at your direct competition!

It’s important to trust the consultant’s advice at this stage.

If you’re being told the candidate is involved in other processes – take note. If you’re being warned you could lose the candidate due to a delay in the process – do something about it! I know it can be difficult when multiple offices and departments are involved, but is there any way you can condense the interviews? Could you replace the first stage with a 20 minute phone interview during the candidate’s lunch break?

Flexibility is key here – the more flexible you are, the better chance you give yourself of securing the candidate above your competition (not to mention the wonders it can do for your reputation in the eyes of the candidate).

Three – Those Three Dreaded Words: Candidate-Short Market

I know – I can’t begin to imagine how many times a day you get this from various recruitment consultants (especially if you’re an accountancy practice). I’m afraid it’s all true though; most candidates are passive which means they’re not ‘actively’ looking for a new role. It’s hard enough to get their commitment for a job search they’re not wholly into, even harder still when they’re probably being well looked after in the current position they’re in.

With a million and one resourcers, headhunters and other recruitment consultants – how can you guarantee the buy-in of that one really excellent candidate? If they’re really that good then they aren’t going to be short on opportunities to choose from, so make sure the engagement is there.

Have you connected with them on LinkedIn? Don’t be afraid to do this – it’s always good to put a face to the name.

What about a congratulations email sent directly onto the candidate? Having that direct contact with a potential new employer (aside from the exchange of contracts!) never goes amiss.

You need to constantly ask yourself: how can I be better than the competition?

Four – The Biggest Land Mine of Them All

If you’ve been recruiting for a while then you’ll know what I mean when I say I’ve saved the worst for last: Counter-Offers. My colleague, Lawrence, has written a detailed piece to navigate you through these murky waters titled ‘Countering Counter-Offers’ – you can find this on our website: For now I’ll lay out a few of the finer points.

It’s not all about salary. Yes, if the salary you’ve offered is too low by the candidate’s standards then it might lead to them questioning how much you value them and their skillset as a potential employee – but what else does the offer involve? How does their holiday allowance compare to their current package? Are they working more, or less, hours? Try and make sure you have all of the facts before you put an offer together. Realistically, you want them to accept straight away without entering into a haggling battle about figures!

Make them an offer they can’t refuse. This involves working closely with the recruitment consultant – really try and flesh out the candidate’s reasons for wanting to leave their current role. 9/10 times it has nothing to do with salary – therefore – a Counter-Offer can be stopped in its tracks. Statistics show the vast majority of candidates who accept a Counter-Offer and remain end up moving on within the next six months anyway!

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again. It really all comes down to ENGAGEMENT. You want to paint the picture of a job so ideal not even the Tooth Fairy could tempt the candidate away from it!

Well done if you’re still with me; the aim is to offer you, the employer, an ‘inside look’ of the battles I, the consultant, wages on my end of the desk.

When a candidate rejects your offer – don’t fret. Where in the process could changes have been made towards securing a different outcome? Always try and remember these top four tips:

  • Perception is everything.
  • Move quick.
  • Engage with the candidate.
  • Take the consultant’s advice.


Feel free to take a look at the ‘News’ tab on our website for other recommendations and advice – equally you can drop me an email with any questions or feedback you might have.