Top Deal Breakers That Cause Candidates to Turn Down a Job

Top Deal Breakers That Cause Candidates to Turn Down a Job

As a nonprofit staffing agency, it is so important for us at Careers In Nonprofits (CNP) to take a look at the top deal breakers that cause a candidate to turn down a job. By understanding these most common deal breakers, interviewers can prepare for and adjust their own strategy to make the hiring process smoother all around. As a nonprofit recruiting firm, we have seen every single reason that a candidate may turn down a job and use what we learn to reinforce our role in the hiring process.

Here are some of the top deal breakers in the recruiting industry today and how we’ve managed to overcome them.

  1. Inappropriate interview questions

    According to a study published by The Harris Poll & ASA Workforce Monitor from 2019, the most referenced deal breaker that leads a candidate to turn down a job, in any industry, is inappropriate interview questions. The report stated that over half of everyone polled — 53% — said that inappropriate questions would cause them to turn down a job following an interview.

    While ‘inappropriate’ can mean different things to different people, there is no denying the impact an inappropriate question can have on the hiring process. As an interviewer, the worst thing you could do is jeopardize the hiring process by asking highly qualified candidates the wrong questions. If you’re unsure of which questions to ask or unsure how a question may come off to an interviewee, consult with your nonprofit recruiting firm to develop an interview strategy prior to beginning the interview process.

  2. Lack of face-to-face contact during the hiring process

    Face-to-face contact is so crucial to nearly every aspect of human life. Having that eye contact, ability to read body language, and even physical handshake can make a huge difference in how someone feels following an interview. When polled, 30% of people said that not having any face-to-face contact can impact their decision to accept a job offer.

    This feels particularly relevant given the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Given that 30% of people say lack of face-to-face contact is a big reason they would turn down a job, and unemployment rates currently sit quite high, this could very well be a factor in those unemployment rates.

    This can also be a particularly glaring factor for fundraising professionals, who tend to make a living and hire exclusively off of their face-to-face communication skills. Make sure your remote interviewing skills are honed before you begin interviewing for the best success during the hiring process. It can be helpful to practice with a recruiting manager using a video conferencing application or record yourself asking typical interview questions to see how they come off and critique yourself as you go.

  3. Misrepresentation of requirements/skills

    As a nonprofit staffing agency, appropriately representing the skills and requirements needed to perform a role is essential. It is already typical to expect that nonprofit employees will be filling multiple positions and working additional hours due to the nature of nonprofit work. Inadequately representing skills needed and experience required can lead to a significant fall off in the acceptance of a role.

    It is always better to thoughtfully lay out the skills and requirements for each position you are filling; be upfront for the best results in the long run.

  4. Aggressive behavior from interviewer

    This one may seem obvious, but actually has lasting impacts beyond just the initial interview. Similar to inappropriate interview questions, aggressive behavior from the interviewer is by far one of the most common things that send candidates running.

    As an interviewee, it is natural to already feel out of your element and in a vulnerable state, therefore picking up on even the most subtle aggressive behavioral traits. The smallest passive aggressive comments about coworkers, visible stress or anxiety from you, or abrupt/rude language from you can easily influence this. Be aware and extra cautious going into an interview.

  5. The commute is too difficult or too much travel is involved

    It is almost impossible to imagine a perfect commute. After working from home for so long throughout the pandemic, almost everyone has some idea of what constitutes their version of the perfect commute. Some of us have loved only traveling from our kitchens to a home office over the last year, while others are itching to return to commutes that actually take us out of the house and put us back into the activity and bustle of normal life. It’s important for nonprofit recruiters — and all hiring companies — to recognize that there will likely be some transition as people start easing back into their own version of comfort. For companies to make that transition as easy as possible, it is crucial that they identify a travel and work-from-home schedule that makes sense for each candidate and for the organization.

  6. The work is too difficult or too easy

    According to, one of the leading online job search websites, having too difficult or too easy work can lead to candidate drop-off.

    This is not only true for professional fundraisers or other nonprofit executives but in every single niche and industry. If the work is too difficult, it will be impossible to succeed in landing appropriate candidates. If the work is too easy, candidates will immediately feel bored and not want to waste their time. It’s that simple but a very important factor to consider.

  7. The culture doesn’t feel right

    Also noted on, finding a workplace culture and feeling that is just right is key to landing good candidates and key to keeping them on your payroll. This, similar to the perfect commute, varies greatly depending on the person.

    Some employees seek out a more relaxed and casual culture, while some prefer a more structured organizational environment that — to them — feels more professional.

    One way to figure out if this is the right fit is to be sure to show candidates around the office and allow them to ask questions regarding work-life balance as you go.

Tired of missing out on the best nonprofit candidates?

Deal breakers for jobs can vary from person-to-person but tend to have very similar characteristics and fall within the same themes. As the financial freedom & investment platform Motley Fool says, “it pays to approach the recruiting process strategically,” no matter what side of the desk you are sitting on.

Adjust your strategy, interview intelligently, and never miss out on the top nonprofit candidates out there.

Don’t forget to check out our free Nonprofit Hiring Checklist. It is full of tools and resources that equip you with everything you’ll need to source, hire, and retain the right nonprofit professionals for long-term success. Click here to view it!


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