Candidates are in higher demand than we have seen in years. In fact, unemployment rates in February of 2016 for college degreed professionals totaled just 2.5% This means when recruiting on a role for your team, whether a full-time headcount opening or contract role, you are seeking talent in essentially full employment conditions. Candidates have more options for their next career step and many times are weighing more than one offer.

This leads to more declined offers, which you may have experienced in recent months. To increase the odds that your offer IS accepted, focus in on the experience you provide to candidates within the interview process. A candidate is more likely to feel positive about future employment with your company, department as their boss if the interview process has been seamless, informative and attractive. Here are some tips to conquer this:

1. Clear the logistics stress
Help candidates put their best foot forward by preparing them with what to expect when they arrive at your office through the end of their interview. Are there tricky directions to your office? Is parking difficult? Do they need to allow a full 10 minutes to get through security? How many people will they be interviewing with? Be sure candidates are given the lay of the land so they do not stress over these details and can instead focus on preparing for the interview.

In the face-to-face interview stage you are making the first lasting impression of the potential employment experience when a candidate steps foot into your offices and begins to visualize themselves as an employee. Simply making sure they are set for success to sit down with you and put their best foot forward leaves a solid impression.

2. Timing
The faster you can move solid candidates through the hiring process, the better. You will have barriers to moving as quickly as you'd like--all hiring managers do. Determine what they are. Does your company require four rounds of interviews? Are offers contingent on a really lengthy background process?

Clearly communicate the steps in the hiring process to candidates you are interested in progressing through the interview process. Many times if a candidate's expectations are set early on that the hiring process may take longer than their expectation, they will be less likely to get cold feet.

3. Paint a clear picture
Many talent are truly seeking the best fit for their next career step as opposed to simply their next job. Departments and companies each operate so very differently from one another and what may lock in a candidate to say yes to your offer versus another company is more than likely due to a unique opportunity you can provide. Understand what is meaningful to a candidate for their next employment step and articulate how your department and company can meet this expectation. Some common items to consider here include flexibility of working hours and work-from-home potential, complexity of work and ownership of projects and training opportunities.

Paint a clear picture, from the outside looking in, as to what the employment experience could be for a successful employee. Not only will this help to lock in the right fit but it may also help you avoid hiring the wrong fit.

4. Meet and Greet!
When you have determined you are close to providing an offer have your candidate meet their potential future coworkers. This will give them the ability to see themselves as part of the team and to get excited about the people they will spend the majority of their workweek with if they do accept your offer.

Paying special attention to the above items will help provide a positive experience to your candidates and a first glimpse at what being an employee would 'feel' like. Outside of all of this, simply remember that career decisions are a big deal. Over-communicate with candidates you are interested in--connect through social media, shoot them quick email updates if there are delays in the process, give them a quick buzz when you know an offer is coming to tell them how excited you are to have them on your team, etc. A personal touch and a seamless process can make a huge difference to mitigate declined offers.