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What to Ask Sales Candidates Who Decline Your Job Offer

optimized-istock-471950258Failing to sign the top candidate is a reality every sales leader is likely to face at some point in their career. But understanding why a candidate has chosen to forgo a position at your company can provide critical intel that impacts how you approach future hiring efforts. This article offers best practices for extracting information from a sales candidate who declines your job offer.

You’ve done the work to successfully attract and interview your top sales candidate, and now you’ve offered them a coveted role on your salesforce. Unfortunately, the candidate has chosen to take another offer. Or, they’ve chosen to stay with their current employer.

This presents a critical business opportunity to better understand what attracts A players to your organization and why they say no.

The most common factors that go into a salesperson declining a job offer include compensation structure, company culture, number of reps currently making quota, and length of time in recruiting process.


Knowing the reasons why top candidates are declining your offer is the only way to take proactive steps toward preventing future offer declines. To better understand a candidate’s reasons for declining your offer, be proactive in attaining this information.

Here are 7 questions to ask a sales candidate who declines your job offer:

1. What aspects of the role or company did you view as positive?

2. What were your primary concerns about the role/working at our organization?

3. Was there a specific factor in your decision-making process?

4. Was your decision based on compensation structure?

5. Do you have any feedback on the interview process, interviewers, or how we could have improved your experience as a candidate?

6. Can you provide any observations about, or feedback on, the hiring manager, HR, or the organization overall?

7. How can we provide a more compelling employee value proposition to candidates like you in the future?

It’s best to address these questions as soon as possible after an offer decline – the factors that went into the candidate’s decision will be fresh in their mind and they will be more able to provide specific detail about why they’ve chosen not to join your team.

If you’re using a third-party recruiter, ask them to conduct a brief interview that includes these questions. You can alternately rely on the HR function of your organization to collect this feedback, or use an anonymous email survey to have these questions addressed.

Top performing sales leaders understand why the best salespeople join their organization, but they’re also proactive in preventing future talent loss by understanding why candidates choose not to join. To build a top performing sales team, make it a priority to collect this feedback so you can prevent the same loss in future offers.

Want more? Check out these articles: Mistakes Made at the Offer Stage, or Reasons Not to Promote Your Sales Rep to Management.


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Eliot Burdett

CEO at Peak Sales Recruiting

Before Peak, Eliot spent more than 20 years building and leading companies, where he took the lead in recruiting and managing high performance sales teams. He co-founded Ventrada Systems (mobile applications) and GlobalX (e-commerce software). He was also Vice President of Sales for PointShot Wireless. Eliot received his B. Comm. from Carleton University and has been honored as a Top 40 Under 40 Award winner. He co-authored Sales Recruiting 2.0, How to Find Top Performing Sales People, Fast and provides regular insights on sales team management and hiring on the Peak Sales Recruiting Blog.