Why Good Candidates Turn Down Job Offers – and What You Can Do About It

Why Good Candidates Turn Down Job Offers – and What You Can Do About It was originally published on Hospital Recruiting.

Top 6 Reasons Candidates Turn Down Job Offers and What You Can Do About It
Aleksandr Davydov/123RF.com

The time and effort you spend recruiting talent, from the most entry-level to the most senior or specialized hire, is a costly investment. Maintaining staffing levels is critical to administrative needs and patient outcomes. Recruiting successfully keeps the 24/7 world of healthcare running smoothly.

Too often the best recruitment efforts fall flat. The process seemed to be going well, with an eager, talented candidate and an equally eager and impressed department head. The match seemed inevitable, but when the offer came, it was refused.  While there may be some specific reasons job seekers turn down an offer, some of the basics – and what you can do about them – are all too common.


They weren’t really looking

In a tight talent market, some job seekers aren’t actually candidates for hire. They may be testing the waters to see what’s out there and available. These candidates would only truly be interested in making a move if there was an offer they simply couldn’t refuse. Top dollar; outstanding benefits; flexible schedules; room to grow, etc. While it can be frustrating to extend an offer and have it turned down, there are ways to see this coming and maybe even flip it in your favor.

What to do about it

When interviewing working candidates, almost every recruiter will ask why they’re looking to make a move. This stock question deserves more attention than you think. Job seekers who are truly interested in making a move will be decisive in their reasons. Candidates who are dipping their toes into the market may be wishy-washy with a response. Answers like “I think it’s time for a change,” aren’t very definitive. Follow up to see if they’re really ready for a change or if they’re just putting out feelers.

Resist completely eliminating candidates who tells you they’re going to stay put after all. Let them know there’s a job waiting for them if and when they change their mind – you never know when a bad day at their current facility will tip the balance in your favor.


The offer was too low

When the response to your offer is “I’ll have to think about it,” that’s typically code for you’ve come in too low. Posting your salary range up front or mentioning it early in the interview process generally takes salary worries out of the equation. But often candidates are interviewing at multiple locations; you could be in competition with another facility and not even know it.

What to do about it

If the response to your offer is lukewarm, you might ask what, if anything, is keeping the candidate from saying yes. Many applicants are hesitant to discuss salary – they believe wages are set in stone. Consider telling the candidate you’re amenable to a counter offer, if that’s what’s holding him/her back. If he/she comes back with a number immediately, and it’s within reason, you may be able to salvage the hire.


Bad candidate experience

Nothing puts off an applicant worse than a bad candidate experience, and there are many touch points along the way where things can go south. Taking too long to respond to an application, canceling and rescheduling interviews, or meeting with people too busy to give their undivided attention are only a few ways to turn off top talent. If you don’t put on your best face when you’re trying to get them to work for you, they can only assume how indifferent you’ll be once they’re on staff.

What to do about it

Too few institutions know they provide poor candidate experiences. Keeping lines of communication open and asking for candid feedback throughout the process helps. While it may not salvage the current candidate, it can up your chances of landing the next hire.

If you’ve established a connection with a job seeker, you may be able to get him/her to tell you if/how the experience went sour. It may be something you can rectify: if so, do it promptly to demonstrate you’re receptive to correcting the matter. That could mean the candidate will sign on the dotted line.


Took too long to extend an offer

Interviewed a candidate three months ago and just considering extending an offer? Consider they’ve likely moved on. Time-to-hire is important in any market. In today’s tight applicant market, it’s critical.  The competition is fierce; if you’re not getting them off the market, you can be sure your rivals are.

What to do about it

Move more quickly! If there are delays in the process, make sure to keep the candidate in the loop on what is holding things up. You may be able to salvage the hire if the reasons for the delay are reasonable.


Bad online presence

The best recruiters in the world can’t overcome a bad online reputation. The process is going smoothly, you think you have a hire, and then he/she sees the bad reviews past (and sometimes current) employees posted about working at your facility. Good candidates are not going to risk taking your offer if your reputation is poor. A bad online presence is worse than none!

What to do about it

Keep an eye on your online reputation. Make sure it’s accurate and resolve any problems listed. Consider asking (not requiring) employees to post positive comments to offset any negative ones. The worst thing you can do is to ignore a bad comment. Deal with and apologize for any legitimate problems individuals post and ask them to take down their comments. You may not save the current hire, but you’ll be in a better position to salvage the next.


Not as advertised

You may post your job description in its entirety when you hire, but if interview information doesn’t coincide with what you’ve posted, the candidate will not accept your offer. The posting may be for a nursing supervisor, but if the duties are no different than the people under their charge (except for extra paperwork they’ll need to do on their own time), they won’t be joining you. It’s important to be as transparent throughout the process as possible to make sure there’s a good fit for everyone.

What to do about it

Job descriptions and postings must be current and accurate. It takes a bit of time upfront to get them up to date, but it’s worth it in the long run. You won’t be wasting your time or the job seekers’.


Working to make sure all your recruitment efforts make a return on their investment may mean a bit more prep, a little extra communication, and a willingness to be flexible. In today’s challenging talent market, these few things can mean the difference between making hires and losing them.

By Riia O'Donnell - Hospital Recruiting
Hospital Recruiting
Hospital Recruiting | Physician and Healthcare Job Board.