Why Do Candidates Turn Down Job Offers? And What You Can Do About It

You know that having open roles within your business can be stressful. And when you find that perfect candidate to fill a position, you want to be sure to lock them in! 

Have you ever felt really good about a candidate? You thought it was a perfect match and couldn’t wait to have them on your team. You made your absolute best offer… only to have them turn it down. This may have led you to settling for your second, third, or even fourth choice candidate. 

You might find yourself wondering, what makes someone go through the trouble of applying, interviewing, etc., only to say no once the job is offered? What is it that job seekers want

At CareerPlug, we wonder the same thing, which is why every year we conduct research to determine what active job seekers want to see from potential employers during the hiring process.

Our latest survey shows that nearly half of candidates turn down job offers due to poor candidate experience. This means the solution for hiring more of those “got to have” candidates, is improving their experience with you from the job posting to the initial offer. 

Let’s dive into the specific problems that occur during the hiring process that keep candidates from accepting an offer and how you as a business owner or hiring manager can address these problems and make the right hires. 

Reasons candidates turn down job offers 

We define the candidate experience as the experience a candidate has with an employer throughout the hiring process, from job posting to offer. We found that a whopping 49% of job seekers said they’ve declined a job offer because of a poor experience with a potential employer during the hiring process

impact of negative candidate experience

The best candidates will always have the benefit of being picky about where they work. Plus, recent changes in the labor market have been favorable for job seekers, giving them more leverage than ever before. 

Many factors will influence a job seeker’s final choice. So what are those specific factors of the candidate experience that make or break a job seekers decision?

reasons job seekers declined an offer

“The compensation and benefits didn’t meet my expectations.” 

One of the biggest reasons that candidates reported turning down a job offer was because of the compensation and benefits not meeting their expectations. This can be frustrating for both parties, but is definitely something that you, as a business owner, can address and avoid. 

The solution: At CareerPlug, we encourage transparency from the start. Candidate experience starts with an effective job posting. We suggest putting compensation and benefits into the job posting so that job seekers know before applying whether it is a match. Ultimately this will save you time and help you avoid interviewing applicants that are looking for something different from what you can offer. 

“I had a negative experience with people in the interview process.”

Just as many candidates reported that they have declined a job offer because of a negative experience with people in the interview process. 

Interviews are your chance to get to know a candidate, but it’s important for employers to keep in mind that candidates are evaluating them too. The people conducting interviews need to leave candidates with a great impression of the company. If not, there’s a good chance that an offer later on in the hiring process will be declined. 

The solution: Creating a positive experience for all candidates is attainable for any business. Train hiring managers and interviewees to conduct great interviews and hold them accountable for it. 

Schedule interviews in a timely manner and prepare for interviews thoroughly. Have a ​​standardized list of questions ready and stay present throughout the interview. We suggest handling virtual interviews the same way you would an in-person interview. Give candidates clear instructions, respect their time, and avoid asking candidates to participate in one-way video interviews

“The role and responsibilities were different from what I expected.”

Another top reason that candidates turned down a job is that the role and responsibilities weren’t quite what they expected. An interested candidate that finds out late in the interview process that the job isn’t what they thought will feel like you wasted their time. 

The solution: Once again this solution lies within a good job posting. Take the time to think about the role and write a job posting that describes it accurately. Job seekers use the job posting a guidepost when trying to decide whether or not they want to work for your company. 

Laying out both the compensation and expectations for the role from the beginning might decrease your number of applicants, but it will weed through candidates that aren’t a good fit. You can be assured that someone that makes it to the interview process is already aware and satisfied with what you have to offer and the responsibilities of the role. 

For more guidance on how to create a good job posting, check out this video where our Senior Director of People, Natalie Morgan, outlines the blueprint we use at CareerPlug. 

“I was worried about the company’s COVID safety measures.”

The fourth biggest reason candidates turned down job offers is over concern of COVID safety measures. COVID concerns may play a bigger role in certain occupations. For example, 29% of candidates in the hospitality, entertainment, and recreation industry cited “concern over the company’s COVID safety measures” as a reason for declining an offer. This is a rate higher than any other industry in this study.

The solution: Providing a safe and healthy workplace is important for both candidates and employees in any industry. Make sure that you have the proper protocols in place to address these concerns. You can let job seekers know how you are handling COVID concerns in the job posting and also take the time to discuss this with candidates. 

Consider incorporating phone and video interviews when possible. If you need to conduct interviews in-person, understand that many of your candidates will be evaluating the health and safety measures you’ve taken in your workplace. 

More things to consider 

The importance of the candidate experience may vary from industry to industry. 67% of job seekers in the fitness industry and 60% of job seekers in home and commercial services reported that they have declined a job offer due to a poor experience in the hiring process. 

Job seekers in the automotive and insurance and financial services industries reported the lowest rates of poor candidate experiences. 55% of automotive candidates and 62% of those in insurance and financial services, said they have not declined an offer due to poor candidate experience this year. 

Clearly, there are variations across different industries, and plenty of other factors that might affect a candidate’s decision, including a better offer elsewhere or the job not aligning with the candidate’s career goals

However, it’s worth restating that based on our research, no matter how many hours you put into the hiring process or how good your final offer is, if you are creating a negative candidate experience, then nearly half of your offers will be rejected. 

The impact of a positive candidate experience

The answer is clear. To get more candidates hired, you have to improve your candidate experience. The good news is that this effort will pay off! 

Based on our research, 81% of candidates said a positive candidate experience influenced their decision to accept an offer. 

impact of a positive candidate experience

You know that hiring can be stressful. Looking for a job can be stressful as well. Have empathy for your candidates and show them that you value and appreciate their time and effort. Take action to improve your overall candidate experience to ensure more candidates are excited to say yes to your job offer.

Want to know more about what job seekers are looking for?

Download our 2023 Candidate Experience Report to learn how to improve your hiring process and get more candidates to say yes to your job offers!


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Kacie was born and raised in Houston, Texas, and graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 2012 with a degree in Anthropology.

Kacie joined CareerPlug as an intern while still in college in 2012. Post-graduation, she joined the CareerPlug team full-time as a Talent Specialist on the Recruitment Services side of the business, eventually working her way up to be the Recruitment Services Manager. From there, she learned her passion for the internal processes of what makes the business tick and explored other roles at the company, including Internal Support, Implementation, and Quality Management, before eventually finding her home in Design. She is now building a Creative Design branch off of the Marketing team.

Outside of work, you can find Kacie walking her dogs Bixby & Bean along Buffalo Bayou, hanging out with friends (and their pets), and tending to her 40+ house plants.

Jenny Leman


Native to Texas, Jenny graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2004 and joined CareerPlug in 2017. She retired her first career path as a Registered Dietitian after 10 years, and has found her true belonging in business operations.

As CareerPlug’s President, Jenny leads all teams to an aligned effort toward achieving our vision. She works to build healthy and scalable internal systems to equip and empower the CareerPlug teams to bring their best for our clients. She loves contributing new ideas and rethinking the status quo. Jenny really connects with the company’s core values, but especially with our intent to “Keep Growing.”

In her non-work life, Jenny enjoys time with her family, playing drums and performing with the Austin Samba School, and finding excuses to be on the lake.

Chris Igou

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Chris accidentally started a 20-year career in franchising when he was 18 years old and took a job painting houses for College Pro Painters. That job turned into the ownership of his first franchise (a house painting franchise). While at Monmouth College in IL, he operated his business, played on the varsity football team, and studied to become a teacher.

The taste of entrepreneurship and desire to coach others led Chris deeper into franchising, working with a few franchise brands helping them grow their businesses. He lived in the Chicagoland area his entire life until recently moving his family to Austin, TX.

In his free time Chris coaches youth sports, especially youth football, and spends as much time as he can with his wife and 2 children.

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As the Implementation Manager, Ashley and 3 direct reports function as a transition between Sales and Partner Success in helping our clients get set up and established in our software. She spends her free time raising her 2 dogs, playing cornhole, and perfecting the art of charcuterie.

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Use our templates to create an attractive careers page and job posting. Then promote it through our job board partners, as well as directly with your employees, customers, and social network.



Use our notifications and automations to be the first to respond to qualified applicants. Send texts and emails from directly from CareerPlug to convert applicants to scheduled interviews.



Use our prescreen questions and assessments to identify the best applicants. Then use our interview questions and scorecards to evaluate for the right things consistently.



Once you think you have found the right person, use our reference and background check resources to verify them. Then, send an electronic offer letter from CareerPlug to close the deal!



Hiring is hard, but partnering with us makes it easier. From posting jobs to scheduling interviews, CareerPlug allows you to automate certain parts of the process to improve your results and save you time.


Polly Schandorf

Engineering Manager

Joe Lepis

Engineering Manager

Clint Smith

Founder & CEO

Clint founded CareerPlug in 2007 with the simple idea that there was a better way to help employers connect with quality applicants. Today Clint works every day to fulfill CareerPlug’s mission: Make Hiring Easier. Leading by example, Clint loves spending his time developing new ideas and teaching others.

After graduating from the University of Florida, Clint worked in investment banking and strategic marketing; both experiences influenced the development of CareerPlug. He also spent a year away from the business world teaching 5th grade in Boulder.

Clint is passionate about helping others succeed and is involved in numerous mentoring programs. He and his wife, Sarah, are also foster parents. Clint enjoys family time, beach volleyball, and outdoor adventures.