How to Properly Inform Candidates They Did Not Get the Job

Published: March 19, 2015 Author: Clearpoint Tags: Manager's Corner

During the hiring process, companies are not obliged to inform candidates who didn’t make the cut that they’re being rejected. And until recently, most companies have chosen the path of silence — it’s easier and more efficient to only contact candidates who are being hired, and there are no consequences either way.

However, more businesses are realizing that in the digital age, silence is not golden. Candidates are now talking about their experiences with the hiring process on social networks and websites dedicated to reviewing companies as employer brands. If applicants are treated poorly or ignored during this process, word can travel fast — damaging your reputation and potentially losing you qualified candidates.

Responding to rejected applicants is not only the professional thing to do, it can also help to strengthen your employer brand. Here’s how to turn down candidates the right way so you can maintain goodwill and preserve your business reputation.

Communicate quickly

While it may be convenient to notify all rejected applicants at the same time after the hiring process concludes, the longer wait is difficult for candidates. If you know that an applicant has been disqualified and won’t be hired, reach out to them right away and let them know. This frees them to continue their job search and removed the unnecessary stress of waiting for a response. It also reduces the amount of work you’ll have to do once you’ve made a hiring decision.

Make it personal

Generic bulk emails may be acceptable for rejecting candidates who have submitted resumes or application packets that are obviously not a match for the position, but sending this type of message to candidates who’ve been in for an interview is less than professional — particularly for final-round applicants who were being seriously considered.

Instead of the standard “thank you for your time” message, use a more personal approach by either writing individual emails that address the candidate by name and contain a few specifics, or making a quick phone call. Include a brief, positive comment about the interview, and make your point politely.

Offer feedback when appropriate

The job search process is frustrating for candidates, especially when they have no idea why they didn’t get the job. You can help applicants on an individual basis and strengthen your company’s reputation by providing polite and constructive feedback for candidates who were close to making the cut. Give more specific reasons about why they aren’t being hired, such as a decision to go with someone with more experience, or a candidate who has stronger skills in a certain area. This type of constructive feedback lessens the blow and allows applicants to move forward in the job search with more confidence.

When giving feedback to a candidate, it’s also a good idea to open the floor by allowing them to ask any questions they might have for you. Brief feedback sessions can greatly enhance the candidate experience, and will encourage applicants to talk about your employer brand positively — even if they aren’t hired.

Stay open for the future (if you mean it)

Sometimes the hiring process can lead you to more than one candidate you’d be happy to hire, but your budget or current staffing plans may not allow this. If you’re forced to make a tough decision, let the final candidates know that even though you’re not able to offer a position at this time, you’d like to keep them in mind for the future. This allows you to build a talent pipeline you can draw from at a later date.

However, don’t give candidates false hope if you honestly won’t consider hiring them down the road. Stating that you’ll keep their information on file may seem like a polite way to let candidates down, but it comes with the potential to backfire in the future.

It’s not easy to reject job candidates. But if you do so in a polite and professional manner, while remaining timely and consistent, your organization will benefit in the long run.

Clearpoint offers a number of staffing services in Houston, including in the areas of technology, creative and professional. Contact our team of experts today to get started!

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