Telling an applicant that they’re not right for your company is never an easy job. Candidates are hopeful that they will get hired — and then you come in and break the bad news.
Rejection, however, is part and parcel of every recruitment process. And someone (a.k.a. you) has to do it. Rejecting applicants is tricky, but there are ways on how you can do it professionally and respectfully.
Here are some tips:
1. Manage expectations early on.
The application-slash-rejection process starts with your first meeting with job applicants. Whether this is at the phone screen or at the first interview, one of the goals of the meeting is to explain your selection process to the candidate.
This is your opportunity to manage the candidates’ expectations about the job. Let the applicant know the stages at which you will communicate with them about the status of their application.
2. Don’t make them wait too long.
Email or call each applicant as soon as you determine that they are not the right person for the job. Many employers wait until the end, even as long as it takes for a new employee to start the job, before they notify unsuccessful candidates.
Be respectful of your applicant’s time and effort, and let candidates know as soon as you find out that they didn’t make the cut. Otherwise, candidates wait, fret, and feel as if their candidacy disappeared into a dark hole, along with their positive feelings about you as a potential employer.
You want to leave each applicant with a positive view of your organization, which you can achieve by simply communicating with them in a timely manner. This positive impression may affect the candidate’s application to your organization in the future.
3. Be honest if you’re considering other applicants as well.
If you have determined a person is both well-qualified and a good cultural fit, call the applicant to let them know the status of their application. Tell the applicant that he or she is still being considered for the position, but that you also have several other qualified candidates to interview.
In this way, you have not rejected an acceptable candidate and the candidate is not left in the dark while you consider other options. This is courteous and respectful and it may help you avoid restarting your recruitment.
4. Give an honest feedback on why they were not hired.
It would be helpful for candidates to know the reasons behind their rejection. Let them know if they lack the technical knowledge needed, so that they have a chance to improve on their deficiencies.
Giving them a generic rejection email is very impersonal and may even put candidates off from applying to your company ever again.
5. Encourage them to apply for other positions.
Sometimes, a candidate is more fit for other positions in your company. Encourage them to apply for those openings as well. This way, you’re not really “rejecting” them, but more “redirecting” them to positions better suited for their skills and experiences.
6. Ask them feedback regarding your recruitment process.
Candidates, even the rejected ones, can give you a lot of feedback about your hiring process. They can tell you which areas they found difficulty in and how you can improve on those.
Asking for feedback gives the impression that you still value their opinion even if you’re not hiring them. The impression he or she takes away may affect other potential candidates for your jobs. Candidates do talk and often, like birds, flock together to pursue an employer of choice.
7. Connect with them on social media.
It’s good to stay connected with your past applicants because you never know when an opportunity to hire them may arise. If they lacked the necessary skills and experience needed for the job opening two years ago, it is possible that your rejected applicants might have improved upon themselves now.
It’s good to have them on your candidate pool, so that when the need for a new employee arises, you have several potential candidates to tap into.
Plus, by staying in touch, you continue to build a positive relationship with a potential employee and their network.
Applicants, like most normal humans, seek job closure so that they can move on. It’s never appropriate for an employer to fail to respond to a candidate with whom the employer has had contact. Turn them down respectfully, in a timely and professional manner.
Do you have other tips on how to turn down job applicants? Share them in the comments below!
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