Job candidate holding 'hire-me' sign

How to make an employment offer too good to refuse

No matter how confident you are that you’ve selected the right candidate to join your business, sometimes your offer isn’t accepted. I’ve seen excellent candidates reject offers for excellent roles, and it can cost an employer a lot of time and effort to find another suitable person, not to mention the disappointment of being rejected. 

The reasons candidates give for turning down offers tend to vary, but here are a few things you can do if you want to clinch that perfect candidate:

1. Be considerate with your start dates

Don’t insist that a currently employed candidate starts working for your company immediately, as they have a responsibility to give notice. You wouldn’t want an employee to do it to you, so it is unfair to put someone in that position. Tell them you want them to start as soon as possible, but you understand they need to give notice. The standard is two weeks, but some contracts require four.

In the same spirit, don’t ask an unemployed candidate to wait more than a week or two before starting a job. They may receive other offers in the interim. Even if you aren’t completely ready for them to assume the role, it’s better to have them on board than losing them all together.

2. Be honest in the earlier stages

Let potential candidates know as early as possible if there are any changes that could affect their desire to work for your company, such as changes to work hours, location, responsibilities, etc. Call the potential candidates and say “These aspects of the role have changed, we hope you would still be interested if an offer is made”. Knowing this information will reduce the likelihood of the offer being turned down later.

3. Offer what they’re worth

It’s ok to wait until the offer stage to present a complete salary package, depending on the candidate and their experience. People often judge their own success by their salary, and offering a much lower rate than someone is already earning could be offensive. If it’s much lower than the market rate, they will likely turn the offer down and you will be back to square one. If they say yes, you have to ask yourself why they would take a package that is less than what is acceptable. They could possibility be using the role as an interim position while they continue looking for a role at their preferred salary.

4. Handle the recruitment process with care

Research we do consistently shows that if the recruitment process is too long or unpleasant, a candidate will turn down the offer regardless of how amazing the role may be. The interview process is often a first impression of a company, and if they feel uncomfortable at this stage its unlikely they’ll feel like it’s the right fit for them.  Remember an interview is both ways. It is as much the candidate showing they are suitable for the role and company as for the company explaining why it is a good opportunity for the candidate.  It is also important to understand what other roles they are in process with and how your position compares. This is a great opportunity to see the benefits of your company and take all hesitation away from the candidate.

5. Don’t be afraid to withdraw an offer yourself if it doesn’t feel right

Its not often we see an employer withdraw an offer once it’s been made. On occasion a candidate comes with their own provisos that they surprise you with once an offer is made, despite all the effort put into interviewing and reference checking. Trust those gut instincts and don’t be afraid to say, “I’m going to have to rethink this. What you are saying/doing is not what I had in mind and not what we discussed.” It’s always easier to start over than it is to employ someone you know is not suited to the role or organisation.

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