Perhaps you’ve experienced a really great phone interview with a top performer that you just knew you were going to get to come join your organization, only to find out after the final interview and the offer they turn you down. What was it?

There are many reasons a candidate may determine they are not a fit even if you think they are, but assuming they don’t have a family reason, it could have been what they experienced in person. Here are a few things that might be scaring away top talent when they get to your office.


Top performers want to work with others who will not impede their progress and will respect their time and space. To top performers disorganization or messiness can come across as a liability. If a top performer sees a messy and overwhelming desk, they may wonder what else is messy or overwhelming about the organization. If common areas are untidy, it’s likely that core business systems aren’t standardized or maintained either.

Bad Energy 

If the office lacks the buzz of communication and productivity it may scare off top talent. The best nonprofit executives have a presence about them and add enthusiasm to all they do. That said, they don’t want to be the only passionate person beating the drum for the cause if others are just punching their time card and going home. Our very best nonprofit CEOs and Executive Directors are effective communicators, so if they sense that your organization wouldn’t value that, it can be discouraging. The cardinal sin of bad energy would be if the candidate when walking in or through the office witnessed another employee get blamed for something and shut down as if it always happens.

No Impact on Display 

If the office doesn’t display any of the impact of the mission it is hard to associate that the team cares greatly about the mission or cause. We encourage nonprofits to have an area of their office they would be proud to show candidates and donors. Think of pictures, posters, and awards that tell your story as an organization and put meaning behind your programming.