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Rejecting Candidates with Grace: A To Do List

It’s a great feeling when you find the right person for an open role. You’re excited for what lies ahead including, what your new hire will bring to your organization and how they will positively impact your team.

Before you celebrate your new hire; there is still one more item to be checked off your to do list. Unfortunately, every time an offer is presented, there are other candidates who were not selected for the same role. Depending on a candidate’s experience level or professional goals, not being hired can be a disappointing blow to his or her confidence.

Turning down job candidates is a necessary evil but, there are ways to do it so that you soften rejection with constructive feedback, all while keeping your candidate pipeline full for future opportunities.

Here are four important points to keep in mind when rejecting job candidates with grace.

Follow up with candidates appropriately
It’s fairly common for job seekers not to receive any communication after applying to an online job posting. However, once candidates invest time in a role like, discussions about the required skills for the role, how the hiring process will work or an actual phone interview, it’s important for them to receive reasonable updates on their position in the hiring process.

Of course, there are challenges that may make this difficult—budget changes, corporate timeline shifts, colleague schedule availability and more. But, sometimes dropping them a short line is the best course of action. You can quickly reach out and begin to establish a good relationship with strong candidates, and in turn, garner appreciation for the outreach while also possibly quelling their possible building frustration. Remember, even though they may not be a good fit for this job, they may be a great fit for a future position.  Creating a positive experience for candidates lets them know that they are valued beyond this specific opportunity.  Those who are unfortunately not moving beyond a phone interview should receive an email.  Anyone who has interviewed in person should receive a phone call.

Share honest feedback
The majority of candidates appreciate advice from experienced professionals. It helps them on their career path while also giving them insight into how they can improve their performance in the interview process. You don’t want to go into every minute detail, but don’t sugar coat why they weren’t hired, either. Tell the candidate why they weren’t selected and offer them whatever tips you feel are appropriate. Your feedback could go a long way!

Reinforce your brand positively
Remember that you want to reject job candidates with grace. Make sure you’re properly representing what your company stands for in all rejection outreach communications. Rejections should be an extension of the company brand.

For candidates early in the process and who don’t make the later rounds of the process, use of a templated communication is usually fine, as long as it is updated (e.g., make sure your logo, business name, address, etc. are all current), timely and captures the tone of your organization.

For candidates who came in a close second, or who may have spent many weeks or months interviewing with your organization, a more personal touch is best. When calling the candidate, remove all environmental distractions, show appropriate warmth and sincerity, and allow them time to ask questions that may allow them to improve on their next round of interviewing.

Keep in touch
It’s inevitable that you will come across strong candidates who just may not be a great fit for a specific job, team or even the current culture at your organization. While they may not have received an offer this time around, don’t delete them from your contacts. Down the road, a role may come up that is perfect for them. Take advantage of the fact that you already have a relationship with someone who would be a valuable addition to your company in a future role and ask them to connect via LinkedIn. It will save you time and money should you need their talent down the line.

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