Fatal mistakes in making a job offer and how to avoid them.

You’ve gone through a lengthy recruitment process and finally found the ideal candidate, but then they turn down your job offer. All that time wasted, and you have to start the process all over again.
Does that sound familiar?

If you have candidates decline your job offers quite regularly it’s time to do some internal scrutiny of your approach to closing hires successfully. It’s easy to fall into a pattern when it comes to hiring staff, especially if you’ve been doing it for a couple of years. We forget to keep pace with industry developments and candidate expectations. When that happens, we lose appeal to top talent who get put off. There are glaring mistakes in our hiring process, but we’re not aware of them.

Recognising where you’re going wrong allows you to make changes

Your priority is to get an analysis of the ratio of offers made, and the number accepted and declined. Analyse the numbers over the past year and then repeat the exercise over previous years. Is the increasing number of job offers refused a recent trend, or has it been going on for some time?

This information is crucial because it can pinpoint a specific time when candidates suddenly didn’t want to work for your company anymore. If your data does indicate a definite point when the problem began, you can look at what changed, internally or externally, at that time.

The insurance sector is a constantly evolving environment; have you been keeping pace with new trends? Or, did you appoint someone to your hiring team who might not be doing things as well as they could? Maybe you moved premises and your new location isn’t appealing, or you changed your working conditions? If you can’t isolate anything in particular, then you have to look at your company culture and attitude towards hiring.

3 common mistakes when making a job offer

  • Not keeping in regular contact with candidates:

Hiring managers often forget to stay in touch with shortlisted candidates. They assume that once the candidate knows that they’ve been shortlisted, they’ll gladly wait until they get feedback. Not true! This is the communication age, and people have become accustomed to connecting and communicating regularly with ease.

There’s no reason why hiring managers can’t keep candidates updated on the progress of their application via email or messaging on social media platforms. If a candidate doesn’t hear from you within a few days, they’ll lose interest and move on. When you finally do contact the candidate with a job offer, they’ll likely turn you down even if they were very keen initially.


Digitise your recruitment process by investing in an applicant tracking system (ATS) even if you’re a small company. With an ATS you have control over the progress of every vacancy in real time. An ATS integrates with your HR system and careers site or job boards, as well as social media. Once you’ve shortlisted a candidate, you can communicate with them online in a matter of seconds. Not only will candidates welcome your regular updates, but they’ll see your employer brand as professional and progressive.

  • Salary and benefits:

Discuss salary, benefits and expectations early on in the interview process, especially if your budget doesn’t have much room for manoeuvre. If a candidate expects more than what you’re offering, don’t think that by avoiding the elephant in the room their expectations will change.

Taking a candidate through a drawn-out interview process and then making a job offer proposing less than their expectations is going to have an adverse outcome for both of you. Your employer brand can also take a knock at the same time because the candidate will feel irritated at best, or even angered enough to resort to a social media rant.


If a candidate wants more than what you’re offering, don’t look at salary expectations with the archaic attitude of “people should be happy with what they get”. You need to weigh up what value the candidate will add to your business, not just in the immediate term, but in the long run as well. You could find that their contributions will very quickly cover the extra salary spend.

If your remuneration package includes commission, make sure that you’re keeping up with industry trends. How well does your commission structure compare with that of your competitors? Most importantly, is your commission structure realistic? If candidates can genuinely earn a good commission, they’ll work hard towards not only reaching but exceeding their targets. If your commission structure is unrealistic people won’t be interested.

On the other hand, if you cannot afford the candidate, or don’t think they’re worth what they’re asking, politely regret them after the interview. Be honest and tell them that their expectations were higher than what you’re willing to pay. That way there’s no harm done.

  • Job offers aren’t personal – either way!:

Neither interviews nor job offers should be personal. You’re looking to hire someone to do a job; you’re not looking to find a new best friend! As much as there needs to be a culture fit, think carefully before you dismiss a candidate because they said something that you didn’t like in the interview. Likewise, if a candidate wants to negotiate when you make them a job offer, be open-minded and listen to what they have to say.

Taking a hard line attitude because you believed everything was covered in the interviews could see you losing a potentially top performer to your competition.


We can all be susceptible to taking things personally, especially if we’re under pressure and we assumed that we’d covered all bases.

That’s why it’s always best to have more than one interview with each candidate, and more than one interviewer. Setting up a hiring team is the best way to go. Collaborative hiring allows for different perspectives of the same situation.

If a candidate wants to restart negotiations when they get a job offer, hear them out and then discuss their requests as a team. On reflection, the candidate could have a valid point, and it could be a request that you could easily accommodate.

Also, if a candidate sees that you’re willing to hear them out and make amendments to the job offer, they’ll appreciate it. In return, they’ll be committed to their job and their employer. Isn’t this is what you want? After all, we hire with the intention of building a long term working relationship[  with our employees.

With planning, a thorough interview process, transparency and honesty, job offers don’t need to be like diving into the unknown and hoping for the best. A job offer is a two-way agreement, and if you consider your needs equally to the candidates’ expectations, you should ace your job offers every time.

Does it feel like negotiating job offers is like swimming against the tide? Why not call or send us an email[ ? At Campbell Rochford, we offer candid guidance and assistance to bridge the gap between success and failure.

About Campbell Rochford

Campbell Rochford is a specialist executive and contingency search company with over 18 years’ experience of the Insurance sector.

We’re passionate about sourcing and placing the most difficult to fill roles in the market and our mantra is “Turning Good To Great”, meaning we turn good clients into great ones.

We provide a bespoke professional recruitment service that delivers quality results and we have an extensive network of clients and candidates throughout Ireland, UK, Europe, US, & Asia.

Our brand represents a fair, transparent and ethical recruitment service that has been developed through many years of successful recruitment assignments both in Ireland and overseas.

Are you worried about losing out on the best talent to other firms? Working with Campbell-Rochford means you’re never second-best. We help insurance industry firms recruit talent that makes a real impact to their business.

If you are an employer seeking to fill a specialised role call Gerard on 01-9065116, visit www.campbellrochford.ie, or send me a LinkedIn message, to discuss your recruiting needs.

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