HR Mavericks

Eddy’s HR Mavericks Encyclopedia

Candidate Withdrawal

You’ve done the required due diligence, evaluated qualified candidates, interviewed and shortlisted your best when suddenly a candidate withdraws! How can you stop this from happening? What do you say to this candidate? Read on for these answers and more when it comes to the dreaded candidate withdrawal.

What Is a Candidate Withdrawal?

Candidate withdrawal can happen at any point in the hiring life-cycle, from the first application review to the last round of interviews. It can even happen right before the offer. Candidate withdrawal differs from an offer decline because a candidate removes themself from the running prior to the organization selecting a new employee.

Why Do Candidates Withdraw?

Candidates can withdraw for a number of reasons, but most reasons are related to the hiring life-cycle experience at your organization. Let’s evaluate why this could happen.
  • Complicated application process. A complicated application process can keep candidates from applying to your organization altogether. If they do apply, it can leave a bad taste in their mouth for your company even before they begin. It’s important to get a full view of the candidate you’re evaluating, but requiring too many hoops in an application process allows for an incomplete application or a later withdrawal from the candidate.
  • Slow responses. When candidates apply to a job at your organization, they are likely applying to multiple jobs, therefore taking too long to respond to questions or updates on their application status could result in a candidate withdrawal. Not following up with each candidate on their application progress is enough to give them pause about working for your organization.
  • Poor interview experience. An interview style should reflect your company brand along with your core values. If your interview process isn’t encouraging, engaging, welcoming and transparent, candidate withdrawals can start rolling in after the first interview. It’s imperative in today’s work environment that employees enjoy their jobs. Most candidates believe they can sense a company’s morale and culture from the first interview, so without a positive interview experience, a candidate's withdrawal seems inevitable.
  • Other offers. You may have done everything right with quick turnaround times, a great interview experience, and an efficient application process, but one of your top candidates sends in their withdrawal. Sometimes an offer from a different organization is enough to provoke the withdrawal. In some cases, your organization could reach out and provide an alternate offer to consider, but if they are at the withdrawal stage, most candidates have made up their mind to officially accept the other offer.

Tips for Reducing Candidate Withdrawal

Reducing candidate withdrawal is simple with a few easy steps to follow. Don’t overcomplicate the process and follow the steps below to retain qualified candidates.

Tip 1: Be Clear

Before posting the job description, take time to clearly define the roles, responsibilities, and requirements of the expected position so candidates can truly know if they should apply. If you set expectations from the beginning and articulate them clearly, you’ll see fewer candidate withdrawals because applicants know what they are applying for and believe they are the best fit for the position. Continue this clarity throughout the recruitment process as you evaluate their application, interview them and provide an official job offer. Taking away the ambiguity in a job application process will greatly reduce candidate withdrawal.

Tip 2: Communicate

The saying “Communication is key” means continual communication throughout the entire process will make a huge impact. If you think over communication or keeping the candidate consistently warm, you’ll see a reduction in candidate withdrawals. Put yourself in the candidate's position, whether applying to one position or a handful. Knowing where you stand with an organization always provides comfort, so give that courtesy to your applicants. Be sure you’re personalizing the communication rather than an automated email every time. Let them know how far they have come in the hiring process, or what the current status is, or give them specific timelines with their application. Keep the status updates coming and encourage open dialogue as a great way to promote your company brand and reduce overall candidate withdrawals.

Tip 3: Shorten the Process

You may think there is no way you can shorten the recruitment process, but there’s always fat to be trimmed from every process somewhere. Taking too long with a good candidate gives another organization the opportunity to recognize their skills and make an offer before you even finish the process. You don’t need to skip interviews or take away background checks if they are vital to your organization but look into automation from your applicant tracking system to speed the process along. Streamlining the process can reduce the time your candidate has to think about withdrawing and reduce those numbers overall.

How to Respond to a Candidate Withdrawal

The way your organization responds to candidate withdrawals can say a lot about your company. Remember, while this candidate may not have worked out, they could tell their friends about their experience with your organization, so even a withdrawal should end on a positive note. Let’s look at some steps to respond to a candidate withdrawal.

Step 1: Acknowledge the Withdrawal

First, always make contact with the candidate and acknowledge the withdrawal. If the candidate withdrew via voicemail, be sure to call them back; if they sent an email, be sure to respond quickly. A great response will be professional, genuine, and honest, something like, “I appreciate you letting me know. We are all disappointed, and if there is anything we could have done to change your mind, please feel free to share that with me. We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors and please keep in touch.” Be sure first to share the disappointment of losing a candidate, ask for feedback, see if there is hope, and wish them success for their future.

Step 2: Request Feedback

When the withdrawal is acknowledged with a request for feedback, be prepared for what this may provide your organization. While this feedback could simply be the candidate went with another offer, it could bring to light some gaps in your hiring process. Take those in! Evaluate how you can move forward and encourage continued dialogue with the candidate. If they share that the interview process was difficult, probe them on which parts could have been better and what your organization can do to retain top candidates through to the final offer. You’re being given a golden opportunity to discuss the cracks in your hiring process to improve them with someone who has just experienced it. Take advantage of that!

Step 3: See if There Is Hope

Open up a dialogue between the candidate and your organization about the potential of continuing the interview process. This would apply more to top candidates who could have the position if your organization gets the opportunity to offer them the job. Asking the candidate if your organization could make a counteroffer to review before they officially withdraw is a great way to handle top candidate withdrawals. If the candidate withdrawing is someone who is not a good fit for the role, skip this step and move on to the final step.

Step 4: Wish Them Success

Always, no matter the situation, wish the candidate success for the future. Finishing a withdrawal with this step helps the candidate leave with encouragement they will take as they continue their career. While you cannot change their perspective of the experience they may have had with your organization, if you asked for feedback, the candidate should feel heard and leave the organization on a good note. Taking the time to honestly and genuinely wish the candidate success allows a candidate to feel empowered even though they go a different route. Your company continued to support them and that’s always the best choice.
Shalie Reich

Shalie Reich

Shalie has over 4 years of experience working in a variety of HR positions and organizations including: working as an HR department "of one", working with a start-up based in Europe, to working in a fully established robust USA based HR department. Shalie has experience in multiple states and countries with all aspects of the HR spectrum. She has a passion to share her knowledge and experience to benefit the HR profession!
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Frequently asked questions
Other Related Terms
Applicant Auto-Rejection
Blind Resumes
Blind Screening
Boomerang Employee
Candidate Journey
Candidate Pipeline
Candidate Pool
Career Gap
Contrast Effect
Cover Letters
Employment History
Functional Resume
Job Hopping
Passive Candidates
Qualified Applicant
Reference Check
Resume Screening
Superstar Candidate
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