How to Reject Candidates with Care

rejecting candidates what to do

How to Reject Candidates with Care

Rejecting Candidates with Care

The hard truth is that in recruiting, rejecting candidates is par for the course. Since we often meet many candidates for the one position, often, we’ll end up with a few people left behind in the process. A first impression is important. However, you shouldn’t underestimate the value of leaving a positive lasting impression.

The Importance of Rejecting Candidates with Care

rejecting candidates what to do

Rejecting candidates with empathy and the candidate experience in mind is the right thing to do. More than that, the way you treat people says a lot about your company and brand. If the rejection is done respectfully, you can use this experience to not only improve your brand but build a robust talent pipeline through candidate nurturing.

Remember, these candidates might still consider your company next time around, refer others, or recommend your services when possible

Best Practices when Rejecting Candidates

  • Follow Up. A candidate took time to meet with your company about your specific job. For candidates, there’s so much more that goes into an interview than just showing up for the interview. There’s nerves, preparation, research, scheduling, and travel. Show your candidates that you care by following up.
  • Timeliness. When rejecting candidates, wait a couple of days before you send the feedback. If you’re continuing to interview others but don’t feel strongly about a candidate, don’t string them along. It’s not a respectful practice and the candidate will be able to tell. If you’re having a hard time tracking follow up with candidates, schedule a recurring calendar event as a reminder.
  • Don’t Take it Personally. As the hiring authority, sometimes people will direct their anger your way. It’s a natural reaction. A job search is a deeply personal and vulnerable experience. Take a breath and do your best to understand their frustration. Rejecting candidates is hard to do! In addition, some people will never take constructive advice or feedback well no matter how carefully you put it together. If you’ve done all you can to remain respectful, kind and transparent in the process, there’s nothing more you can do.
  • Your Message. Craft a careful and thoughtful message that is easily customizable to help highlight some of their great skills/aspects that you learned about during the process.
  • Feedback. Don’t just keep a candidate in the dark. This is difficult but most candidates report that the not hearing back following an interview feels worse than getting terminated. Be honest but tactful and give a candidate something to walk away with to make them stronger for their next opportunity.  And of course, avoid saying anything that could cause liability for your organization.
  • The Channel. Use Your forms of communication wisely. If your candidate made it to the interview round, a phone call is best. If the candidate in the early stages of the processed or just applied usually an email will suffice.


The Don’ts of Rejecting Candidatesthings to avoid when rejecting candidates

Just as there are some best practices for following up with candidates to make an offer, there are some things to avoid when rejecting candidates for a position.

  • Texting. Texting is a great way to get things done quickly. However, you should never text a candidate to let them know they didn’t get a job.
  • Be Cautious. Don’t use any language that could be misinterpreted. Instead, just state simply that the team has decided to no longer pursue their candidacy. If you are open to hiring them in the future at some point, invite them to apply again. However, if you don’t intend to consider their candidacy in the future, don’t ask them to re-apply down the road.
  • No Ghosting. Ghosting candidates is disrespectful and just plain unprofessional. Ghosting candidates can not only hurt your relationship with a specific candidate but can generate negative word of mouth and impact your brand.

The Takeaway

No one enjoys the inner working of rejecting candidates. It’s difficult for candidates and its difficult for the person who has to deliver the news. While difficult, the task is easier if you follow a few general guidelines and respect the candidate experience.

As a consultative partner, LeadingEdge Personnel strives to be one of the best locally-owned staffing agencies in Austin and San Antonio. Looking for more information on hiring better, pro tips when partnering with an agency or using social media in the hiring process? We’ve got you covered!

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