The path to success isn’t always easy for recruiters. Sometimes, there are unwelcome surprises along the way. One of the toughest situations you might find yourself in: your company has made an offer, but something happens, and you must rescind it. Whether you’re new to recruiting or a seasoned pro, knowing how to rescind a job offer is a critical strategy to have in your toolbox.
It often goes like this. You’ve invested days, weeks, or even months into helping your candidate land their dream job. But even after all the successful interviews and congratulatory messages, something comes up, and your company can no longer bring the candidate on board. Then comes the really hard part. You have to tell the candidate that their offer to join your organization is rescinded.
Unfortunately, job offers are rarely set in stone. Even after an offer is extended, organizations can face obstacles that prevent them from hiring a candidate. These might include:
- Budget changes or hiring freezes
- Internal reorganizations or management changes
- Failed background checks or licensure procedures
- Changes in government administrations
No matter the reason, these conversations are painful. Emotions can run high. It can feel like everyone involved – from the candidate to the recruiter to the hiring team – is losing in the process.
To make it easier, we’re sharing three tips to help you rescind an offer with as little upheaval as possible. Read on to uncover their best tips.
For even more in-depth advice and help navigating other recruiting challenges, check out our Recruiter’s Guide to Difficult Conversations.
How to Rescind a Job Offer
When rescinding an offer, it’s important to remember two things.
The first is a harsh reality: revoked offers are inevitable, especially in volatile economic circumstances. You may have heard about recent market shifts that are impacting hiring rates in the tech industry. Recruiters across tech companies are feeling the ripple effects of economic uncertainty, making these difficult conversations more frequent right now.
The second, however, is more encouraging: while revoked offers are an unavoidable part of recruiting, they do not have to cause you (or your candidate) permanent damage. With a solid plan in place to approach these conversations, you can minimize the negative outcomes.
3 Ways to Prepare for Rescinding a Job Offer
When rescinding a job offer, it’s important to take an empathetic approach that puts the candidate first. Follow these three steps to help make the difficult conversation as easy as possible:
Maintain professionalism, positivity, and clarity in your communications with the candidate.
Transparency and honesty reassures the candidate you respect them and helps them understand the reason for the decision. Even when the outcome is disappointing, being honest and open can help give candidates the best experience possible.
Protect yourself and your colleagues by enlisting the support of your legal and people teams.
Keep documentation of the reasoning behind the offer revocation. Inform the candidate that a more formal revocation notice will follow your conversations via mail.
Prepare for any outcome.
Candidates will likely be shocked, upset, and disappointed when they learn the news. Be prepared to respond to these emotions with empathy and understanding. Whether they show sadness, anger, or any reaction in between, treat the candidate with dignity. “Ride out the storm” rather than fighting it.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Rescinding a Job Offer
DO: Express your sympathy to the candidate (“I’m very sorry that this outcome is not what either of us was hoping for”).
DON’T: Personally apologize for the situation – after all, it is not your fault, and for the sake of your own reputation, you should not imply that the outcome is due to any error on your part.
DO: Encourage the candidate (“You have great experience and skills that would be valuable to a company…”).
DON’T: Tear down the employer that rescinded the offer. Assume and express best intent, even if you are frustrated with the employer yourself (“… but unfortunately, sometimes even the best companies aren’t able to perfectly anticipate their needs”).
More Recruiting Advice Awaits
Looking for more expert advice on having tough hiring conversations? Check out our Recruiter’s Guide to Difficult Conversations! We have tips to help you navigate a wide range of thorny topics, including:
- Executing a pre-close with a candidate
- Setting (and re-setting) expectations around compensation
- Negotiating an offer when candidates ask for more
- Advocating for candidates when hiring teams are skeptical