By: Bernie Diaz, Recruitment Manager


You just completed a placement and you’re getting ready to move on to the next search. Your client is happy, you’re happy and then comes one of the most dreaded calls or emails that we can ever receive as recruiters.  The message… “I’m declining the offer.”

Before you start blaming the candidate, ask yourself, “What did I miss?”

While there are no iron clad steps recruiters can take to guarantee a 100% falloff free career, here are some thoughts that can help. Many of these follow the ABC or “Always Be Closing” rule of sales.


Define The Position: A Job Description from the client is essential. It is the template we recruiters use for finding matching candidates and it is the document that a candidate should carefully review to determine his or her interest in the position. But, don’t rely on the written word alone!

You must be very clear and open in verbalizing the position’s duties and compensation and continue repeating this information so there are no surprises


Define The Client’s Expectations: Knowing the client’s hot buttons regarding what is expected of a candidate will help immensely towards a placement that sticks. Of course, that person must satisfy all of the technical requirements of a given position. I’m talking soft skills here, such as character traits, attitude, social skills, communication skills, etc. 

As an example, there was a recent search I was working on where the client specified he was looking for someone interested in a career, not just a job. That cued me to look for individuals with longer employment tenures, not job hoppers and it is definitely a piece of information I shared with all of the prospects I contacted. Then, I sat back and listened to their replies. 


·         Make Sure The Candidate Visits The Potential Employer’s Website: Although that’s just common sense, don’t take it for granted and make sure it’s done! The website is the first step in acquainting a candidate with a company’s credentials, culture, etc. I recall at least one individual who declined to pursue a position based on something he read on the website. One less falloff to worry about!


·         Discuss Distance: I’m not referring to candidates who must relocate from one state to another. In this section, I’m addressing local to semi-local candidates. Some will tell you from the start that they are only willing to commute a certain amount of miles. And that’s great, because you immediately know where you stand. However, some candidates will insist that commuting is not an issue. Be careful! In my opinion, any distance over 30-miles each way, should be a cause for concern.


Make sure they map out the mileage and estimated driving time from home to work.  And even after receiving assurances that the employer’s location is not a problem, challenge  them by not only reiterating the number of miles, but by having them realize that it’s not just distance it’s also traffic congestion. As many of us are painfully aware, a 25-mile distance could take up to one hour to complete based on traffic patterns especially during morning and afternoon rush hours.


·      Ask “What Other Opportunities Are You Pursuing?”: Oh man, is this an important question to ask your candidate! At what point in the candidate’s job search have you made contact? Just started looking? Great! If there are several irons in the fire, how close is he or she to an offer? How does your opportunity compare to the others? You owe it to your client and to yourself, to get these answers.


Best case scenario…your candidate is really a player for your position but the client needs to move fast. Worst case scenarios… a) this person is a tire kicker and not serious about making a move, b) this candidate is desperate and will accept any opening until something better comes along, c) your position is being used as leverage against a job he or she really wants.

If you uncover any of these worst case scenarios, good for you, you’ve just avoided a falloff!


·         Ask If There Anything You Need To Know That Would Keep The Candidate From Accepting An Offer”: This is another key question. While you have to respect a candidate’s privacy, your job is to uncover any items that could unravel a deal at the last minute. Red flags you’re looking for include… having an ongoing obligation that requires the candidate to leave work early, or a past criminal record that will be uncovered during the background check.


·         Ask If The Candidate Discussed The Opportunity With The Significant Other and Family: This topic can be covered when your candidate is further along in the running for a position. But do ask the question because a candidate is not only impacting his or her life with a new position, but the lives of the entire family. So, find out if they may have any potential concerns. Having everyone on board is extra insurance.


·         Don’t Be Afraid To Pull The Plug: This is one of the toughest calls a recruiter can make, especially during a long and arduous search. But, I speak from experience when I tell you that if after doing all of your due diligence, your instinct tells you to cut ties, do it now or replace that candidate later. Your client deserves better and so do you.


I’ve been doing this a long time and I’m still learning. My biggest lesson is stick with the basics. For a football player it’s blocking and tackling and for a recruiter it’s a healthy skepticism about the candidate.

So, ask the questions, always be closing and don’t be afraid to cut ties when necessary.

This blog was inspired by a recent falloff I experienced. After a phone interview and two onsite interviews, the candidate accepted the offer and then declined it. The reason was distance and a concern from her spouse regarding the long commute.

The distance, by the way, was 30-miles each way, which is not very daunting.

But, it’s back to “what did I miss?” Several things, actually. I did not raise the traffic congestion scenario. I did not ask if there was anything that would keep her from accepting an offer. And I did not ask the candidate if she discussed the opportunity with her significant other and family.

Does that mean that taking every precaution you can think of will stop falloffs by 100%?

No, but if and when they do occur you can find solace in knowing that you did your due diligence to the best of your ability.


The only calls or emails you should receive after a placement are “thank yous” from your client and candidate. 5- Star Google Reviews wouldn’t hurt either!