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Physician and Healthcare Job Board

Tips for Working with Indecisive Candidates

Dean Drobot/

Recruiting is a seriously challenging profession in any employment market, but particularly today, when the unemployment rate stands at only 4.1%. In some industries (healthcare, for example), the shortage of skilled nurses and physicians is reaching critical mass.

In the U.S., we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel to find healthcare staff.

Where are the nurses?

While all recruiters need to be tenacious, healthcare recruiters need to be especially resilient due to the ongoing staffing shortages in the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that by 2022, more than one million nursing jobs will remain unfilled. The number of available staff will not equal the need, resulting in extended time periods to fill jobs.

The ultimate goal of a recruiter is to award a job offer. When you find exceptional candidates and extend an offer, waiting on their response can be frustrating and costly. Candidates who postpone a job offer or delay their start date comes with the territory. But their indecision may cause delays in the selection process, employee training, relocation times, and benefits eligibility — so what should a recruiter do?

Ask questions

First, find out the reason for the delay. Delaying a job offer isn’t necessarily a red flag; giving the candidate time to consider the decision is important. Most candidates hold off on accepting job offers because they are awaiting other offers, have pre-scheduled trips or plans, want to negotiate, read poor company reviews, or just need time to consider all options. This is particularly troubling for nursing and physician jobs, which can take a considerable amount of time to fill. So, keep in mind the company also has its own interests to protect.


David Peterson, Managing Partner at DRI wrote, “Candidates Are Delaying Start Dates.” In it, he speaks of how important negotiation is for both the company and the job seeker. When the candidate is exceptional, flexibility is probably ideal. If the time to fill the job with another candidate is shorter than the requested waiting period, the recruiter should ask questions and negotiate. Exceptional candidates are hard to come by, so recruiters’ negotiation skills must be up to par.

Give a definite decision deadline

A candidate requesting a few days to think about a job offer is acceptable and standard. However, if an extended or unspecified amount of time is requested, the recruiter should request a specific decision date based on the company’s needs. With healthcare shortages growing rapidly, it is ideal to have backup candidates. Considering the average time to fill an open physician position is six months, this may not be a possibility, especially for those recruiters filling healthcare jobs in rural areas. In the instances when more than one potential candidate exists, it increases the odds greatly. Recruiters understand the anxiety of being dependent on a single hire, then the frustration when you receive a decline.

Post positive company reviews

Google and Glassdoor are good websites where individuals research jobs and companies. Company reviews from current employees give job seekers a peek into the inner workings and culture of the company. In one poll, 50% of workers stated a bad reputation would stop them from working for a company. Negative employer branding and culture may cause a candidate to second guess a job offer. The Modern Job Seeker report found that one in three workers have declined a job offer due to negative online employer reviews, while 43% of managerial level workers have declined a job offer because of poor reviews.

Human Resources must create and implement short and long-term solutions to this issue. Time is money, and hiring delays equate to heavy losses. Whenever possible, the hiring process should be streamlined to efficiently expedite the candidate process. A complex, drawn-out process will cost you quality employees.

For applicants, a first good impression of company culture is a smooth, clean hiring process, along with strong, positive reviews. Companies should strongly encourage their employees to write positive and honest reviews without forcing it upon all staff. This will put your organization at the top of the list of businesses for which applicants want to work. Over time, your organization will be the company for which the applicant is stalling another offer.

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About Erica Macon

Erica Macon is a HR Professional with 8 years of expertise in recruiting, compliance and training. Her articles focus on HR trends in recruiting and compliance and have appeared in Nia, an online magazine and Her writing style is consultative yet personable. She works as an Independent HR Consultant for small businesses and startups. To learn more about how her HR knowledge could grow your business, visit her website at