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Why a Candidate Says No to Your Job Offer

Woman sitting in a car looking out the window

In a challenging labor market that saw the U.S. unemployment rate hover around 3.9 percent throughout 2018, employers are increasingly looking for ways they can beat the trend and meet their hiring goals.

With qualified candidates at a premium, employers must examine how they’re presenting themselves to the interviewee, in order to effectively assess candidates while creating a compelling and unique candidate experience. In short, this will help diagnose why a candidate says no to their offer.

Competitive wages

Wages across the board are continuing to rise, and paying competitively is no longer optional. High performing employees know their worth and are understandably reluctant to compromise. If your company is consistently losing preferred candidates to other employers, learn what others are paying and see what you can do to match it.


Companies have to weigh the risks if they don’t hire the talent they want, notes Micah Woong, Aerotek director of business operations in the hyper-competitive San Francisco market. If core business operations or financial penalties are at stake, offering a 5 percent increase in salary could stave off more dire circumstances.

If you’re competing against employers with especially deep pockets, he adds, offering a combination of salary plus stock or stock options can help level the playing field but combining a competitive compensation package with creating a positive candidate experience can truly help employers differentiate themselves within the employment market.

The right fit

Beyond compensation, what’s most important for employers in the hiring process is to have and communicate a strong company employee value proposition (EVP), Woong says.

“When you’re recruiting high-demand talent, you don’t want to hire just anyone,” he says. “Finding the right candidate is far more important than just filling a position.” Because of this, he says, employers need to ensure they can convey the essence and value of their organization — what’s unique about them — to provide the most accurate and compelling picture.

Being upfront, he says, “helps candidates feel that connection to the company mission and values that they’re being hired to support and fulfill.”

Every interview is high-stakes

Woong primarily works with clients looking for extremely specialized candidates in high-demand areas — software engineering, accounting/finance and skilled trades — which means he’s developed expertise in hiring situations where the company does not have the upper hand. Candidates he works with may have seven or eight other interviews lined up at the same time, which makes each interview a high-stakes engagement.

“These interviews are more of a mutual exploration,” he notes.

While companies need to be sure they are communicating their value, they also need to be authentic. “You don’t want to position your company so that the candidate is getting an inaccurate picture of the company. This can lead to disappointment and frustration later on.”

Different messages will resonate with different candidates, but Woong notes that he’s seeing more and more candidates looking to be a part of something larger than themselves. “Nearly all candidates want to contribute and feel useful.”

“It’s not about sleeping pods and ping-pong tables,” he continues. “What everyone wants is a connection based on what’s mutually important to the candidate and the employer.”

Want to know more about hiring strategically in a candidate-driven hiring market? Contact Aerotek now.