Pitfalls that cause talent to decline their offer

31 March 2022


How to prevent cancellations in the hiring process


For any hiring manager, the candidate dropping out can be one of the most frustrating experiences, especially when there’s an urgency to deliver and they’ve had to go through months of interviews.

This article is intended to help with strategies and ideas that you can use to mitigate cancellations and fill more positions.

In the first instance, let’s clarify that “recruitment is a Sales Process”.

From the moment a requirement arrives through to a well-established thriving team, an effective recruitment strategy requires all the steps in the sales process to synchronize and work like clockwork.

Let’s look at some ideas.


1. The story, why your company, why do what you are doing?

Any candidate that ever started in a role will have a reason as to what made them choose the position. It’s easy to find out, all you need to do is ask anyone “what made you join your company?”

Usually, there’ll be the obvious reasons, perhaps the location, the salary or the experience, but what makes it interesting is when they describe “what it means to them” the impact of their choice.

This principle can be applied to the story by highlighting what the company is trying to achieve, what problems they’re solving and what the candidates can do to make an impact. 

The key is to get everyone on the team to focus on their “why” even if it’s in a subtle way. This way every part of the reason to join will be embedded in the team’s culture which naturally becomes infectious to anyone new that’s looking to join the company. 

There’s a great TED talk by Simon Synek called ”Start with why?” which will elaborate more on the topic.


2. Treat recruitment as a sales and marketing process

This obstacle may seem cliché but it is fundamental to the process. “The job description” and the “Recruitment Process” is a sales and marketing process.

Often we get a sense of urgency from hiring managers which seems as though they don’t have enough time to craft a well-explained job description, they often prefer to explain it and expect recruiters to get on with it.

Like any sales process, in order to sell something, everything from the product to the customer journey and customer experience needs to be a good fit for the product to sell. In recruitment it’s the candidate experience and candidate journey. 

When the recruitment process gets treated the same as a sales and marketing process, a candidate joining the company becomes a deal. 


3. Set the right expectations from the start

It often happens where the candidate finds out it’s not quite the way it was made out to be. This could be during the recruitment process or after they’ve joined. 

It could be anything from:

  • Their offer being made lower than the amounts given by HR or their recruiter.
  • Doing something different to what they thought they’d be doing.
  • Unexpected travel and costs.
  • Asked to work longer hours than agreed.
  • Different equipment, or by stage being early or later in development.
  • Office environment or remote working.

Therefore it’s essential that everything from the details of the role to your recruitment (sales) team including external partners need to be on the same page. “It does exactly what it says on the tin!”

One would argue that there’s bound to be something that turns out different and that’s correct it‘s unusual for it to turn out exactly the way it was presented.

The key lies in how the problem gets addressed. The candidate needs to feel listened to and for them to see an assertive effort that something about it is being done.

This way the error will be small and they’ll appreciate the effort. “It’s the thought that counts!”


4. The Commercials or budget for the role

To be fair candidate salaries aren’t always clear from the onset of the process, the reason for this is due to the complexities of the market. Trying to figure out the market prices for salary is similar to trying to figure out market prices for property.

In the property market it’s easy to tell that certain areas produce higher or lower prices, whereas in recruitment it has to do with the country, location, industry, sector, experience and specialty. 

External Recruiters may be able to provide an advantage here as they often work within a variety of industries but specialised in a single field such as IT. 

As you know IT is something that’s universal across all industries, but the difference is (for example) IT in the banking sector is not quite the same as IT in the food industry. Banking would naturally fall into a higher price bracket due to the competition for talent and also the complexity of their systems. 

There are occasions when some technologies are adopted in both, perhaps comparing FinTech to Banking for example, then usually prices can be quite close. Obviously the more you know about your market the more accurate you’ll be in pricing. 

The challenge starts when you need to expand further afield into different territories, that’s when you may find it useful to work with a recruitment partner that can help you figure out benchmarks salaries to get the initial budget in place and then to let the recruiter get started.

What’s important for the process to work is that the budget needs to be understood from the start. So many placements (deals) get lost due to recruiters trying to send great candidates that are simply too expensive. It’s better to let them know the price.

The recruiter must understand that for anyone that’s over a certain budget, they will be rejected!


5. How to deal with the competition

The majority of candidates are satisfied in their role and often have no interest in moving, however a large majority of them do like to keep an eye on the market for what’s out there.

Like in all sales processes, you have people who have no interest, others who like browsing and those who are looking for something. A lot of the deals get won by the strength of the sales force and their sales process.

Often companies try to weigh up the pros and cons between their own internal recruiters and their external recruiters. A simple analogy could be internal recruiters are more aware of the company culture, the job details, access to the hiring managers and are overall more closer to the team.

Whereas external recruiters are more in tune with the greater market, they will have represented competitors and can connect with talent with a broader scope of options. This may be appealing to candidates as it comes from a non-bias neutral point of view.

In the end it’s based on the recruiters ability to sell the position. The key is to try to get the best of both worlds, a way to balance the benefits between your internal and external recruiters. 


6. Speed

The question of speed always comes up when candidates accept opposing offers and there are ways in which you can adjust the recruitment process to bring it closer to an acceptable speed. This topic will probably require a full article to cover several points on the subject but for the purpose of this article, let’s try to summarize it into best practice.

Often there’s very little that can be done to change the decision making process. Depending on the size of a company, the decision to hire someone could be shared between one or several stakeholders. Naturally the more stakeholders the longer it will take.

One thing to be conscious of is how quickly candidates receive offers, especially in highly competitive sectors where candidates are high in demand. Perhaps this is why passive candidates are highly sought after over job seekers because the passive candidates will be a lot more selective, making it less likely that they will be looking at several roles.

That doesn’t mean job seekers should worry, in a market where skills are in demand it’s highly likely that offers will appear. This is more about considering the broader perspective. So what can be done where the demand is high and the process is slow? The best solution lies in communication. 

For example the hiring manager may be ready to hire someone but with a budget that’s being stretched or shared somewhere else. From previous experiences, in some cases hiring managers will have had to wait as much as 6 months for their budget to be approved, frustrating everyone. 

Where there’s very little that can be done to push the budget forward, something can be done on managing people’s expectations. A professional recruiter will automatically sense that there’s a hold up somewhere in the process. By probing and asking questions, the recruiter will soon figure out that the problem is out of everyone’s hands and that being patient is the best option. 

When a candidate is interested in a position, they’ll be prepared to wait provided they’re fully informed as to what’s holding up the process. As long as they agree with the reason, they’re less likely to mind waiting that long. If it stretches over a week or two, then that’s not so bad, it becomes a challenge when it stretches over a few months. 

It’s always best to start the recruitment process knowing how long it’s likely to take, recruiters should ask on the interview process, whether the role is likely to be put on hold and generally whether any obstacles could appear. This way they’ll be able to manage expectations as much as possible keeping candidates engaged.

How long should it take? 

A good benchmark to work towards is 2 to 3 weeks from receiving the CV to offer being made. At the end of the day, if the hiring process takes too long it’s very likely to impact the quality of hire and the reputation of the business over the long run, it’s always important for HR to govern the process well and raise flags when things aren’t moving as they should.


7. The devil is in the detail, rather the opportunity is in the detail

It’s always a question asked by recruiters and also candidates, “is there a job description?” 

By understanding the exact requirements, the recruitment team can begin to look for opportunities to highlight the parts of the offer that stand out. 

Often due to time constraints the job detail is generalised and recruiters are given summaries. This risks the project coming across as quite ordinary and not extraordinary. You’ll be surprised at the difference when time is taken to craft a well explained  job description. It empowers the recruitment team and helps them perform a lot better in creating demand in your projects.


In summary

Perhaps you may be dealing with a high level of rejections, conducting many interviews with few successes simply not getting very far with recruitment, you will find a lot of your problems lie in the sales and marketing process. 

Even if you don’t come from a sales background, you can always tap into your company’s or partners resources to try and figure out better ways to improve the sales process.

It takes time for a sales process to develop, it’s important to give your recruiters time to figure things out and also to work as a team especially when working with external recruiters. 

Like all sales processes, they take time.