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The other day, an HR leader posted on LinkedIn that she’d had an interview with a potential hire only to quickly realize that he wasn’t the right fit. Rather than end the call abruptly, she switched gears with him and spent the rest of the hour going over his résumé and giving him pointers on interviewing. The time she took with him – less than an hour – may have changed the course of his career path forever.

You Can’t Hire Them All, But You Can Communicate with Rejected Candidates

I’m not suggesting that you provide a free hour of job coaching to every applicant. But your rejected candidates do need to hear from you, and quickly. Providing feedback as to why they didn’t get the job and giving them some suggestions doesn’t take long. What is easy for us to see as HR professionals might be invisible to a job seeker. A lot of people have been searching for months; they’re down, and they’ve likely been dealing with tragedy or unexpected loss of income as a result of the pandemic. Make a difference for someone who deserves a break, even if they can’t get one in your company. You won’t regret it. 

Your Approach to Rejecting Candidates Impacts Your Brand

What happens when you don’t follow through with a candidate? Leaving rejected candidates in the dark about where they stand is unprofessional. It forces them to make assumptions about the culture of your company, ultimately leaving a bad impression. And candidates talk; they rate the application experience, they tell their colleagues. And they leave comments on social media platforms for all to see. 

How to Reject a Candidate

First of all, if a person is not the right fit for the particular position for which they have applied but would still make a good addition to the company, leverage your ATS by tagging them; be sure to let other recruiters on your team know. Many companies refer to this practice as a silver medalist program. When you contact the candidate to let them know that they are not getting the offer, do your research and be prepared to direct them to another job requisition. Either way, letting applicants know they did not get the job is essential.

  • During the interview, let them know by what date you’ll be in touch. Give them a short time frame (3-5 days) in which they can expect to hear from you again.
  • Applicants who aren’t selected for an interview at all can simply be sent an email stating so; applicants you interviewed should receive a phone call.
  • Wherever possible, give detailed, constructive feedback.

Hiring Doesn’t Have to Hurt

Hiring the right candidate for the right position can be an exhausting and difficult process – but it doesn’t have to be. Building a talent pool of applicants who meet the criteria for your company and culture, even if not for a specific position, can make filling future openings easier. But no matter what the reason, the people who are looking for jobs with your company deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

If you meet with candidates who are diamonds in the rough but need a little extra coaching to be the polished candidate you’re seeking, feel free to refer them to our Job Seekers program through Beacon Lane’s Career Lounge. 


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