Refusal in a recruiter’s work. How to deal with candidates rejecting a job offer?

You get an exciting new recruitment process. You search the base, you source, you send hundreds of messages. Then he appears – the ideal candidate. Even after the first phone call, you know that this is “the one.” He goes through the steps of the process like a storm, and you can see with your eyes how he powers your client’s team. The vision of a completed trial is getting more and more tempting when suddenly that phrase falls – “I can’t accept the offer.” You have two choices: start screaming into a pillow, or approach the problem professionally. Just how to handle candidate rejection and keep your emotions in check when you are overwhelmed by a sense of failure?

Declined job offer is part of the recruitment process

Many recruiters starting out on their career path are unprepared for how often they will face refusals in the hiring process. According to LinkedIn, only 10-25% of the InMails we send to candidates get a response. That’s not all! Not only will you get a response to 1 out of 5 messages you send, there’s a good chance it will read: “Thank you, but I am not interested in the job offer.”

However, the most painful type of refusal is when a candidate is rejecting a job offer at the final stage of the recruitment process. Such a situation often takes us back to the very beginning of the process and leaves us with a sense of lost time. The statistics are inexorable – according to Glassdoor, 17.5% of job offers in the US are rejected – this means that 1 in 6 offers made will be met with rejection (read about the most common reasons for job offer rejection in another article ) Sooner or later, every recruiter will experience this.

However, the candidate is not the only source of rejection in the recruitment process. Hiring managers can also be very quick to cool our ambitions to hire a candidate who seems perfect for the job. It is also worth noting that behind the refusal in the process is also … the recruiter himself. Often we are so frustrated by the fact that one candidate rejected our offer that we forget that we ourselves rejected many people during the process.

Denial and rejection accompany recruiters every day. We are denied, we are denied, and we are denied again. So, how do you maintain mental balance when a candidate rejects your offer?

Why is dealing with rejection important?

You don’t have to be an expert in the psychology of emotions to know the consequences of frequently facing rejection and rejection. Situations of social rejection (rejected feelings, rejection by peers) can result in growing frustration, a sense of hopelessness, and in extreme cases even depression. FMRI studies show that feeling rejected activates the same areas of the brain that are activated when feeling physical pain. Constantly revisiting moments when we faced rejection or rejection temporarily lowers our IQ and impairs short-term memory and decision-making skills.

In addition to a number of negative consequences, work-related rejection can also be viewed as a carrier of information – “since I constantly face rejection, it means I can’t do my job well.” You can’t work effectively while carrying around a sense of utter ineffectiveness, which is why it’s so important to handle rejection properly.

How to handle candidate rejection?

1 Be prepared for it

Sooner or later, your offer will one day be refused. Don’t assume that a promising candidate is a guarantee of your success. Candidates rejecting a job offer or resigning during the recruitment process is always a real scenario – even if your candidate is actively interested in the process and is doing great in it.

2 Don’t take rejection personally.

Remember that the candidate is rejecting the terms presented in the offer, not you and the relationship you have developed during the process. If someone else had made the same offer, the candidate would not have accepted it either. The candidate’s resignation from the process is not a reflection of your value as a human being – your relationship is a business one. Remember that your goal is to focus on closing the process, not to analyze the candidates’ emotions toward you.

3. Negotiate!

Sometimes you may find that a candidate drops out of the process because it is easier than trying to negotiate terms. Don’t assume that the first refusal is final – ask the candidate why they declined the offer and if there is anything that can be changed. You may find that a frank conversation about the terms offered and the candidate’s needs will lead to a renegotiation of the offer, resulting in final acceptance.

4. Celebrate successes

Prepare a list of candidates you were successful in hiring, revisit difficult recruitment processes that you were able to close. When the moment of doubt comes, look back and see how many obstacles you have overcome. Revisiting successes can be a boost of motivation, especially at a time when we feel that nothing is working out for us.

5. Accept the fact that you have no control over everything

A candidate received a better offer that you can’t beat? The hiring manager doesn’t share your opinion of the candidate? This is something completely beyond your control. You will not be able to change his thoughts. Even if you have done a great job in the process, you need to remember that sometimes there are things over which you have no control, so there is little point in agonizing over them.

6. How to protect yourself from rejection in the recruitment process?

We can also protect ourselves from an excessive number of refusals. The most important issue is to carefully identify needs and motivations of candidates. Remember how Cinderella’s sister forcefully tried to squeeze her too-big foot into a slipper that didn’t fit her? Never use this tactic in recruitment. If a candidate tells you at the first interview that he or she would like to work remotely, don’t count on fitting into a tight slipper labeled “hybrid.” You are wasting time – the candidate’s and your own. Verify well the candidate’s needs for the new job and outline the organizational culture and the challenges he or she will face. If there are doubts from the very beginning, there is a good chance that the candidate will not accept the final offer or will abandon the process. In such a situation, persuading him for further recruitment processes has no right to be successful.

Assessing the nature of the refusal is also important. If another candidate does not accept the offer due to finances, talk to the hiring manager. If you’re getting a lot of rejections to InMails on LinkedIn, ask what’s missing in your email response to the candidate who declined job offer. Feedback from a candidate can prove to be a turning point in the entire recruitment process.

It’s also worth remembering the recruiting community, which is eager to come to your aid – the Internet is full of articles and advice on how to increase your response rate or where to look for motivated candidates. Using available knowledge and the experience of other recruiters, allows us to build effective recruitment strategies to offset the risk of rejection.

The most important issue? Don’t burn bridges.

Candidates drop out of the process for various reasons. Just because someone rejected your offer now doesn’t mean they won’t accept it in the future. Although emotions often tell us to quit the phone (or the job), it is not worth getting carried away by them. Let’s return to such candidates from time to time – if we have left a good impression, we can count on them being willing to entrust us with their job search in the future. Remember, if you learn how to deal with candidates rejecting a job offer, you can make it a really powerful tool in building your candidate base.

Have you encountered a declined job offer? In that case, check out how talent pooling can help!

Claudia Durka

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