Why did the best candidate decline your job offer?

Author: Peter Hogg
Posting date: 24/08/2017

As an employer in the life sciences industry, you know that it is not easy to find the perfect candidate for your vacancy. This makes it all the more painful when you think you’ve found the one, only for them to reject your job offer, setting you back to square one. Through examining the key reasons why candidates turn down job offers, we can help you to allay these costly setbacks and turn your company into one that can hire more of the industry’s top talent.

It is not uncommon for the best candidates to have more than one option on the table when you offer them the job. In the life sciences industry, talented professionals with niche skill sets are continuously headhunted, and active candidates will often try to cast a wider net by pursuing multiple vacancies and recruitment agencies. Regardless of their status, they could already be speaking to other companies by the time you receive their profile, meaning that virtually every candidate is comparing what your company has to offer versus your industry competitors. Here are the top reasons why candidates reject job offers, and what you can do about it.

Your recruitment processes

The interview is usually the first opportunity that a candidate has to meet with their prospective new boss, so remember that they are not the only ones being assessed. According to LinkedIn’s global talent trends report, 87% of professionals think that a positive interview experience can erase their doubts about working for a company, while 83% say that a negative interview experience can put them off.

Since you are probably not the only company that they are speaking to, by keeping candidates waiting to hear back from you for days or weeks after the interview, because of indecision, poor planning, or procrastination, you are just asking for another company to steal them from right under your nose. Equally, a long, drawn-out process where you create too many hoops for them to jump through can become laborious and increase the risk that they will become disengaged with the process and look elsewhere. Proper planning and a structured process will enable you to make decisions faster and reduce these risks. Check out our whitepaper for ways to improve your recruitment process to better engage your candidates.



LinkedIn’s report found that 49% of candidates consider compensation to be one of the main factors when considering a job offer. While this figure does highlight its importance, it also reveals that this is not always the candidate’s top priority. If there is no other differentiating factor between offers, candidates will play one company off against another – be that in the form of a counter offer from their current employer, or from another company – to see who is prepared to pay the most.

By doing a little research and speaking to a specialist recruiter, you can make yourself familiar with the market rate for the position that you are hiring for and use this as a guide when making an offer. But do not rely on salary alone. A job that gives meaning and a sense of purpose gives greater motivation than money for most people. When interviewing and assessing candidates, emphasising your company values to demonstrate to the candidate what more you have to offer will help to build engagement throughout the process and sell the company on its values, mission and impact of the role on the health of patients.

Career prospects

Career development is the biggest motivation among those who work in life sciences, yet only 39% are satisfied with opportunities to develop and progress their careers at their current company, according to Proclinical’s Employee Engagement Report. Lack of career progression is a big reason why employees leave, and candidates can be reluctant to go into a new job knowing that they are going to end up with the same frustrations again down the line.

Talk to the candidate during the process about their future career path and about their opportunities to develop, but do not oversell what you cannot deliver or sugar coat the position by presenting only its positive aspects. Candidates will often relish a challenge when you present both positives and negatives to them.


Candidates might be harder to close if your office is in an undesirable location or especially if the candidate would be required to relocate. It shouldn’t really get to the stage of making an offer without having already discussed these concerns. Listening to what is important to the candidate is a crucial part of engaging them during the recruitment process and establishing early on whether to pursue candidates whose needs you cannot meet.

If you do decide to pursue the candidate who may be unlikely to relocate, take note that Proclinical’s employee benefits report found that a flexible workplace was among the most valued and desirable benefits in the life sciences industry: 65% of workers say that they could be persuaded to move to a company that offered them this option.

Employer brand

Your employer brand is something that is earned. Much like your corporate brand, which consists of the message and reputation that your company has among its customers, your employer brand reflects how your company is seen within the labour market. If a candidate does not perceive that your company is a desirable place to work, they are far more likely to turn down a job offer.

Candidates often have perceptions about your company before you even get to see their resume, particularly if you work at one of the larger, more well-known life sciences companies.  Reputations can be formed by word of mouth, social media and Glassdoor reviews from former employees and even past candidates, as well as the information in your job adverts and on your recruitment website. When existing employees are engaged, this transfers to your employer brand by the way that they advocate the company and the impression that they give to candidates when they visit the office for assessment. In fact, every touch-point that candidates have with your company throughout the recruitment process reflects your employer brand.

When candidates are engaged by an effective recruitment process and strong employer brand, they feel a greater sense of emotional commitment to the company which transfers not only into an increased likelihood of job offer acceptance, but also into becoming more engaged as employees. Find out more about hiring for engagement in Proclinical’s Staff Science whitepapers: How to build an engaged talent pipeline and How to drive engagement though your recruitment process.