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What to Do When Candidates Turn Down Your Job Offer

Mission / Vision / Charter
Sharing The Vision
Team Processes

18 January, 2022

Rachit Lohani
Rachit Lohani

Head of Engineering at Atlassian

Rachit Lohani, Head of Engineering at Atlassian, decodes the positive changes he made to the company's recruitment process by getting into the crux of the issue.

Candidates Turning Down Job Offers

While the race for talent is on, it's no longer an accessible employer market.

You might be one of the top multinational technology companies, and candidates may still turn down job offers. The biggest question amongst all is: why do they do that? One of the possible reasons is that employers need to do more schmoozing to move candidates than vice versa. Taking a look at the hiring funnel, for instance — in one of the software companies I worked at — about a hundred candidates would apply for a job, in which only ten candidates would get an offer with 3 - 4 candidates choosing to turn it down.

As much as it was disheartening, it pointed out several faults in the interview process. It came to our notice that during the interviews, we'd generally ask questions after questions to the candidates but not pitch our company to them, which would include our mission statement and how we are beneficial as change-makers for the world. Upon being asked the reason behind this, most would come up with an "I don't align with the mission and vision" or "I'm more excited about working at another technology conglomerate."

Bring Your Vision and Mission to Your Interviews and Be Prepared to Answer Questions From the Candidates

To resolve the problem, the first step was to create a framework of training for all the engineering managers involved in the interview process. As a rule of thumb within the framework, the interviewer was required to spend at least 10 minutes talking about the holistic picture. This bigger picture involved nothing about the role or the company but how we would fit in the candidate's career goals and aspirations.

The following processes involved walking the candidate through how they fit in, highlighting the critical aspects of why the role was necessary within the company. As a result, we noticed a 30 - 40% drop in candidates' applications. We hired about 1100 candidates in the year 2020, out of which we received only about 10 - 12 turned-down job offers from candidates. In reality, we may have received 250 - 300 rejections as a software company.

The candidates would want evidence on how the decisions are made. It was not about saying that "our company has a cool culture, where we make fast decisions." It implies that the way the decisions are made in an organization reflects the culture.

This brought us to the realization that everyone is busy with their day-to-day operations once they join a company. In the meantime, nobody has a chance to look at the mission/vision of the company as a whole, or sometimes, it might not be inspiring anymore. As time passes, there is a disconnect between what the company wants to achieve and what an individual team member's job is. Therefore, when we have to represent the company during an interview, it might not come off as a strong head start.

We started talking about what we stood for and what we wanted to change in the upcoming days. Perhaps it might have been a minor change in the application inside Jira, but that is still a part of the bigger picture. Everyone wants to put their best face in the interview, and in turn, companies should do the same.

Getting everyone excited about who represented the company on those calls changed how we presented ourselves and how we appeared on LinkedIn. For instance, if a company's mission statement is to improve global education while their BHAG is to make 100,000 dollars in revenue, it wouldn't sit well together. As leaders, it became imperative to have a consistent story on how these pieces would come together and a strategy to fit into it.

In the end, people love stories, and having a consistent one for the whole organization does the trick. The mission is not just about alignment, but it's about having a story behind it that would shift the needle.

Advocate For Your Brand

  • Hiring smart people doesn't stop the journey there; it creates an environment to flourish.
  • Speak up about your Glassdoor job ratings during the interview and talk about the actions to solve the issues. Just as users will look at your App Store ratings, candidates are likely to look at the job ratings and then decide whether to join the company or not.
  • Instill a high amount of confidence in people joining your company by speaking up. Advocate for your company and see why candidates are likely to turn their back around a job offer, only to fix those problems.

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