Why Candidate Acceptance Declines Are the Hiring Manager’s Fault

Candidate acceptance remorse is the equivalent of buyer’s remorse for a candidate taking a job role. It can be felt by either the candidate or the employer. It is a very real thing. In many cases, a leading cause of such remorse can be pinned on your hiring manager.

Candidate Acceptance Remorse: Why It’s Your Hiring Manager’s Fault

Finding and hiring the candidate you want will always be a time sensitive process. The more time it takes, the more likely you are to end up with your second or third choice. This doesn’t make for a happy recruiter, talent acquisition leader or hiring manager. 

We are currently experiencing the longest time to fill in more than 15 years. DHI’s December Hiring Indicators Report has found that time to fill is 27.6 business days.  The Conference Board also recently release its Employment Trends Index which further supports the strengthening of our economy and the expected increase in more hiring for employers likely widening time to fill even more in Q4 of this year and into 2016.



Most commonly, the hiring bottleneck happens with the hiring manager. Their fear of their own candidate acceptance remorse could be keeping you from extending an offer and closing out that requisition. There may be more than one qualified candidate on the table and what if they don’t pick the right one? What if a better candidate were to come along? Whatever their hold up or reservation, it is costing you time and potentially the right candidate. Things like this are probably why the average time to hire is still 26.1 business days.

While as recruiters we might be in sales we are really project managers. The best recruiters know how to effectively manage and also anticipate the candidate acceptance remorse within a recruiter, manager or even an employee.

How to Overcome Acceptance Remorse

Aside from the crazy economy which as recruiters we love but also often loathe, hiring will continue meaning that the best way to hire the best candidates is to use proactive recruiting strategies as well as improving your relationship with the hiring managers and improve the time to fill. When hiring manager’s work fast to extend an offer, candidates are more likely to accept and have less time to explore other options and negotiate.

1) Build a relationship with your hiring manager (and your candidate too) – The recruiting process needs to be a relational one. By getting to know a person you will begin to be able to anticipate how they think and act in future situations. Being to anticipate acceptance remorse or other hold ups, you will be able to confront them head on and expedite the selection and hiring process.

2) Establish expectations – When dealing with hiring manager it is good to set expectations up front. By doing so, there is less room for things to be drawn out. When dealing with a candidate, setting expectations will allow you to keep them engaged and interested as you go through the process. If they know what to expect, they may be less likely to go elsewhere in the process.

3) Set a timeline – To some degree, this goes hand in hand with establishing expectations. Setting a timeline keeps all parties on task and moving through the process in an efficient manner.

4) Use a recruiter intake form to ask standard questions – Intake forms give you that beginning that you need and help work through basic information that might otherwise be forgotten. This will eliminate hold ups of having to revisit this information later and not being able to find what you need.

5) Status with them ongoing – Once a timeline and expectations have been set, it is important to keep in contact with hiring managers as well as the candidates. If people are kept up to date in the process they are more likely to stay engaged and work expediently.

Acceptance remorse is a real issue but it is also an avoidable one. Be aware of who you are dealing with and how they need to be kept on task. Ask a recruiter or HR representative, you have the ability to herd the kittens and keep everyone, including that hiring manager working toward the common goal of filling that open position with a candidate that will be glad to be there and that the hiring manager will be glad to have there.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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