How to Improve Your Candidate Rejection Processes

Let’s face it, no one likes rejection. Finding out that you aren’t what people are looking for simply isn’t fun to hear, particularly when it comes to jobs. The difficult nature of rejection makes it a crucial element of the recruiting process. Doing it well and fostering a good candidate experience doesn’t just fill the moral and empathetic aspects of one’s work, it can yield positive business results as well.

Due to the widespread use of social media and sites like Glassdoor, company practices are in the spotlight more than ever. People share their good and bad experiences online all the time. Use this to your advantage by treating your unsuccessful candidates as warmly and fairly as possible. In at least some instances this will lead to positive comments about you online. Furthermore, treating candidates appropriately leaves doors open for the future. Some candidates may actually be more suitable for a different position, so it pays dividends to keep them in your talent pool as part of an effective candidate pipelining strategy.

Golden rules for turning down candidates

While it can seem obvious that we need to treat candidates well, even if we are rejecting them, the larger question of how we can best go about doing that still remain. To help you we have six golden rules. They may seem obvious, but it can be helpful to remind yourself of them from time to time.

Give the News On Time

Waiting for a response from somebody is frustrating at the best of times, but especially when waiting to hear back about a job, so don’t leave your candidates hanging for too long. This may require you to send a few updates simply notifying the candidates that you are still in the process of deciding. However, once a decision has been finalized and the chosen candidate has agreed to the offer don’t delay informing the other candidates. Such a rule may seem obvious, but it can quite easy to forget. Keeping people up to date is a simple, easy way to ensure the process goes more smoothly.

Use the Phone Instead of Email

Deciding whether to reject candidates verbally or in writing is a tricky balancing act between consideration for your applicants and reducing your workload. Although it would be ideal, calling every single candidate you turn down is unfeasible for the vast majority of recruiters. Therefore, a helpful rule is to call the candidates who made it to the interview stage (including phone interviews), and email the rest. As with all other emails you send candidates, personalization goes a long way into keeping your communication human.

Give Real (and Smart) Feedback

Just like in a breakup, giving honest reasons is an important, but delicate process. Unlike in a breakup, your company has a review page as well as potential legal liabilities if you handle it poorly. Suffice to say, this is an important thing to do correctly. The best way to approach the feedback portion is to highlight the candidate’s strengths and to cover one or two areas that were missing. This may not necessarily be something people like to hear, but it provides a sense of clarity and closure they otherwise wouldn’t have, which goes a long way to providing a positive candidate experience.

Discuss Future Options

Just because a candidate has been rejected for one role doesn’t mean that they might not be interesting to you later. This holds particularly true for candidates who made it through several stages of your interview process. One of the best things you can do is keep such candidates in your talent pool, and tell them you are keeping them there for future consideration. To help keep such candidates warm it can be helpful to send out occasional newsletters and to even schedule check-in phone calls several months after the rejection. This helps them to know that you as a recruiter view your relationship with them as being important.

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Feedback Surveys

Once the recruitment process has ended use feedback surveys to gauge the overall quality of the experience. This will allow you to get details about what you are doing well and what can improve. It also shows candidates that your organization is serious about providing the best candidate experience possible.

Remember that Candidates Can Be Customers

One final thing to consider when rejecting candidates is that they can be customers as well. Whether you are operating in a B2B or B2C environment you need to remember that many of the candidates coming to you could end up making a purchase decision at some point down the road. A great example of this comes from Virgin Media. They found that about 6% of their applicants had switched to a competitor after being rejected. Upon realizing how much revenue this was costing them they completely revamped their process and even took the opportunity to find ways to turn non-customer candidates into customers. One of the ways they went about improving the process was by providing all candidates with resources to help them find jobs, even if that job is with another company.

The more you do to provide candidates with a good experience, even in rejection, the more likely you are to see positive results down the road. You’ll have better social media reviews, a more engaged talent pool, and potentially even more customers.