Spotlight on reasons people turn down a job

So you’ve interviewed a fantastic candidate. You think you’ve found ‘the one’! You’ll make them an offer, arrange a start date, all sorted. Simple! Or is it?!

As recruiters we are in the business of dealing with people. We’re not selling a box, shipping it out and saying ‘it will be with you tomorrow!’ There are so many factors that can influence whether or not someone accepts and then starts a new job.

It’s also one of the worst moments for a recruiter when you’ve put a lot of work into finding what you thought was the perfect candidate for your client, to find they turn it down when you make the offer. Or even worse; accept an offer but then drop out before they start. Believe us when we say we do all we can to stop this happening!

It’s our job to find out as much as we can about each individual applicant’s circumstances and motivators from the offset. That way we can hopefully avoid any nasty surprises for our clients further down the line. Let’s face it; if someone has already interviewed for a job and then tells us the journey is longer than they want to make every day, we’ve not done our job properly.

In the Information Management industry the best candidates are in demand so our screening and interview process has to be thorough. We have to make sure we know our candidate inside out.


We are dealing with people and with the best will in the world there will be times when someone turns down or doesn’t start a job.

We looked at the top reasons people turn down a job using stats from the jobs we’ve worked on over the last 6 months. We also give you an insight into how we as professional recruiters try to head these off and stop it happening.

1. Money

It’s crucial that we know what someone is earning in their current or last job. And that’s not a quick question about their basic salary.

We need to know:

  • Basic salary
  • How much bonus they’ve earned
  • Details of company car or car allowance
  • Travel costs and expenses
  • How many holidays they get
  • Health/Medical insurance
  • Pension
  • Any other perks or benefits such as free lunches

If someone tells us they will move for less than their entire package this sets alarm bells ringing. It’s not to say we wouldn’t put them forward for the job but they would need to have a very convincing reason for this.

2. Another job

A big part of our screening process is to find out what other applications and interviews our candidates have on the go. Then keep in touch and keep asking as situations can change very quickly! The job that had gone quiet for a few weeks can suddenly crop up again when they are invited for a second interview. Or maybe another company’s hiring process moves much faster than our clients. We might not be able to change any of this but we can keep our clients informed along the way.

It also means we can find out how these other jobs compare to the one with our client. If it’s more money, closer to home, working in a specific area of interest to our candidate then we need to know and we need to keep on top of what is happening.

3. Personal Circumstances

A big driver for a lot of candidates is their personal or family life. If a new job means they are going to have less time with their partner or suddenly they can’t drop the kids off at school, then that’s going to have a big impact. We have to get to know our candidates, what’s important to them and how the job we are discussing is going to affect their personal circumstances. We’ve had one candidate turn down a job because another job meant he could meet his wife for lunch. It’s also quite common for someone to turn down a job after speaking to their husband, wife or partner so this can be the hardest part for us to control.

4. Counter Offer

When we are discussing a job with a candidate it’s important we know ALL of the reasons they are looking to move on. We need to scratch beneath the surface. It’s easy for someone to say “it’s time for a change”, “career progression” or they simply “want more money”. We have to dig a lot deeper than this. This means we can discuss all of the pro’s and cons for moving on and guide them through the resignation process. Usually, accepting a counter offer is a bad idea and we offer advice to our candidates on how to deal with this in our ‘8 reasons you should not accept a counter offer from your current employer’ article.

If there are any topics you would like me to cover in future ‘Spotlight” articles let me know in the comments below.

KDR Recruitment is the home of the best data, technology and analytics jobs. For more hiring advice follow KDR on LinkedIn.

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