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You’ve gone through the recruitment process; you’ve read resumes, conducted phone screens and interviews – multiple rounds of interviews in fact, completed reference checks, done behavioural profiling and assessment. You’ve made your offer of employment to your preferred candidate and they have rejected you. They’ve turned you down, maybe you’ve offered more money to try and get them over the line – maybe you haven’t. Either way the candidate you want to join your team, represent your company, contribute their expertise to your business, has rejected you. Let’s be honest here, nobody likes to be rejected. Your initial emotions will probably leave you feeling angry, disappointed, frustrated, surprised, disheartened, doubting yourself or your business reputation/profile. Once you’ve had a bit more time to digest the rejection you’ll probably start to feel relieved that they were honest with you – better they reject you now than 3 months in to the job after you have invested hours of time in training them.
Regardless of how you feel about job offer rejection you can make the most of that experience, learn from it and reduce the chances of it happening to you again. No one wants to have it keep happening as it will be costing you time and money and plenty of headaches no matter how you handle the rejection.
Here’s what to do when a candidate rejects your job offer:
If you are like most people I know who have experienced job offer rejection they are gobsmacked and generally end up getting off the phone as quickly as possible. If you can think of it at the time and if you can have the conversation without letting your emotions filter through, get feedback. Even if you have hung up the phone, leave it for a period of time and call back. The candidate may not want to give you feedback or they’ll just give you any excuse they can to get you off the phone but it doesn’t hurt to ask. This feedback is really valuable in helping you improve your recruitment process for next time. If they are good enough to give you feedback don’t argue with their feedback, just listen and thank them for their feedback.
Step number two is to review your recruitment process. Take a step back and look at how you have conducted the process. See if you can identify any areas where you may have not handled the process as well as you could and what might have caused the candidate to see some red flags. If you can, review your recruitment process with someone that is independent and will give you honest feedback. Talking through the feedback given by the candidate who rejected your offer with this independent person will also be useful. It can be eye opening to get an outsider perspective on how you conducted the recruitment process.
It’s really important to do these two steps before you even start to think about filling the position again. Don’t fall in to the trap of having your job offer rejected then jumping straight on the phone to your second candidate and making them an offer. Take some time out to gather feedback, review your process and discuss with an independent person. You don’t want to make an offer to your second candidate when you are on the rebound!
The next step can be the hardest of all. Do you go back and reconsider the other applicants you had shortlisted and take them through any last steps of the recruitment process or do you go back to square one and start all over again. I see many people avoid going back to square one because they say they don’t have the time to start again and desperately need someone to fill the role. The problem is they end up appointing the wrong person as they make a rushed decision and go with the best of what’s left – not the best person for the job. In the end that person leaves the job 3 or 6 months in and you are back to square one anyway, only it has cost you a lot more time, effort, money and headaches than if they had gone back to square one after the first rejection. Remember and reflect on why you ruled your second or third candidate out of the recruitment process in the first place. If you are not 100% happy with their fit for the job then don’t succumb to making them an offer just because it’s the quickest and easiest solution. If it is really causing you problems by not having someone in the role and you are concerned about the time required to start again, think outside the square and bring in a temp or contractor to fill the gap while you run the recruitment process again.
Sometimes having your job offer rejected is a blessing in disguise, just remember to sit back and review the process and feedback before making your next move.
Angela Connor is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource and career coaching companies. She understands the significance of having the right team of people in a business and is passionate about helping business to attract, recruit and engage the right people so those people can inject their talents into the business; creating an environment where they can do great work and love what they do. Find more useful information and advice at www.inspirehq.com.au or by following Angela on LinkedIn.