Why Do Candidates Reject Job Offers?

February 26, 2020

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In today’s increasingly competitive labor market, job seekers are increasingly choosy. Even when employers find qualified candidates, convincing candidates to accept an offer is no guarantee. And the cost of rejection is high—every rejected offer represents additional days, if not weeks, of work for recruiters, hiring managers and interviewers. In this study, we analyze hundreds of thousands of job interview reviews and offer decisions on Glassdoor to understand how often and why candidates accept or reject offers.

  • In the United States, 17.3 percent of job offers—over 1 in 6—are rejected, according to Glassdoor data, reflecting a steady increase in offer rejection rates over the last few years at a time of growing competition for talent.

  • Candidates are choosier in some industries than others. Candidates in professional and technical industries, like business services and information technology, reject 19.4 percent of job offers compared with 14.8 percent in other industries. These workers are often in high demand and have the ability to compare competing offers.
  • Difficult interviews can increase offer acceptance rates. Candidates in professional and technical industries are significantly more likely to accept an offer after facing a difficult job interview. Candidates are 2.6 percentage points more likely to accept a job offer if they experience an interview with a difficulty one-level higher (on a 5-point scale).
  • Candidates use interviews to gauge the quality of a potential employer. For candidates seeking career growth, a challenging interview can be encouraging. For instance, younger Gen Z and millennial workers (aged 16 to 34), for whom career growth is most top of mind, have the strongest positive link between interview difficulty and likelihood to accept job offers.
  • Companies have room to try difficult interviews. Candidates in professional and technical industries are most likely to accept an offer if their interview is “difficult” (a rating of 4 on a 5-point scale). However, only 10.5 percent of interviews today are considered “difficult”, and only 1.2 percent of interviews are considered “very difficult” (a rating of 5). While employers don’t want to dissuade candidates with very difficult interviews, there’s ample room to increase the difficulty of interviews without crossing that threshold.
  • Test skills, not personality or IQ. Candidates are 1.4 to 2.5 percentage points more likely to accept an offer if their interview includes a skills test, where they can showcase their expertise. However, they are 1.0 to 2.3 percentage points less likely to accept if their interview includes an IQ test or personality quiz, a worrying sign for employers who rely on opaque psychometric or AI-driven tests.
  • Our results are similar across five developed countries. Candidates for jobs in professional and technical industries in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and France are all more likely to accept offers when their interviews are more difficult.

Ultimately, our research shows that how job interviews are structured and conducted significantly affects companies’ ability to attract and recruit talent. Interviews are an important channel to impress top talent. As employers today vie for talent in the most competitive job market in a generation, employers who invest in a high-quality and challenging interview experience will be rewarded with an edge over the competition.

For more detail, read our full Glassdoor Economic Research report: Why Do Candidates Reject Job Offers? An Analysis of International Data from Glassdoor.