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Reject Candidates with Class

Some common reasons candidates hate your recruiting process have to do with how you reject them after an interview and the way you let them down can have adverse effects on your future recruiting efforts. Especially for runner-up candidates who would ideal for future positions, it would be a shame to leave a sour taste in their mouth due to an untactful rejection process.

To make sure you don’t fall into this trap, we compiled some easy ideas you can implement into your recruiting process today that will help you reject people with class.

Set Expectations: Before you even start to decide who will get the job, set expectations with all candidates.  Let them know there are other great candidates being interviewed and you need to complete the entire process before you can provide a response.

Reply Promptly: Don’t leave candidates in the dark for eternity, or even weeks, wondering if that job is still a potential.  Everybody you interview is human and humans need closure.  As soon as you know you won’t be moving forward with somebody, have the courtesy to start your rejection process.  The only exception to this rule should be if the candidate would still have a chance if your number one choice declines your offer or falls through.  Don’t burn bridges prematurely, but also refrain from keeping them wondering.

Use Appropriate Communication Methods: You had no problems calling them when you thought they may be a potential fit. And they took the time to come interview with you.  Wouldn’t it be courteous to pick up the phone one last time to let them know they didn’t succeed? It only takes a few minutes of your time and shows respect.  If you want something more official, you can send a letter or email after the phone call.  This is where you can add more details and make it a formal rejection.

Avoid Boilerplate: Templated rejection letters are obvious and, again, give the impression that you don’t appreciate the time they took to meet with you. It’s ok to start with a template, but try to add some applicant-specific information.  Some details you may want to include in your rejection message:

  • Thank them for their time

  • Personalize it – something you discussed in the interview

  • Feedback on how they can improve for future positions (professional skills or interview skills)

  • Encourage them to apply for future positions – but only if they actually have a chance (there’s no reason to give false hope)

  • End on a positive note – wish them success in the future and thank them again for their time

How else do you show respect to the candidates who don’t get the job?  Do you have any tips you can add?  Let us know in the comments below.