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How to reject a candidate after the interview – 3 easy steps

Through TalentSource’s smart recruiting process, we stress 2 things: the First Impression and the Lasting Impression. In the hiring process, you will reject more candidates than you hire.  The fact of disappointing more people than those you make happy might be why many companies do not communicate rejection with candidates they pass on. A simple shift in mindset makes this easier.  Rejecting candidates is an opportunity to build relationships and strengthen your brand.  The lasting impression you leave with rejected candidates is more important than the first impression.  According to SHRM, “The biggest mistake employers can make is leaving their candidates in the dark. It’s easy to shrug off applicants who will ultimately not be hired, but these applicants took the time to apply and showed interest in your company.”

Think of each candidate you interview as a customer.  How you handle the rejection process is a direct reflection of you and your company; it speaks volumes to the value you place on human capital and contributes to your brand and reputation. Leaving each candidate with a positive experience goes a long way in maintaining and improving your corporation’s reputation and brand. According to LinkedIn research, 75% of people would not take a job with a company that had a bad reputation – even if they were unemployed. The study went on to say nearly 4 in 5 candidates (78%) say the overall candidate experience they receive is an indicator of how a company values its people.

Following up in a timely manner (ideally, within 2 days of the interview) with an email or a phone call depends on your relationship with the candidate.  If after a few days, you are still interviewing candidates and have not made any hiring decisions, please communicate this to your TalentSource rep so we can keep the candidates informed. We can agree not knowing is difficult. A part of our smart recruiting process is doing our best to remove that for our job-seekers. 

Once hiring decisions have been made, here are some simple steps to help you establish a workable process to reject candidates:

Step 1 – offer a sincere thank you for the time they have invested in the process. This is a good time to revisit any topics or experiences you bonded on through the process.  For example, “I have really enjoyed meeting a fellow Notre Dame grad.”

Step 2 – Following the interviews, offering constructive and actionable feedback to your TalentSource rep is critical.  Specific details can help the candidate land the next best opportunity. For example, “The entire hiring team enjoyed meeting the candidate and we are impressed with their experience. While we agree they would be a great fit for our team, we believe their background lacked specific knowledge of XYZ that is necessary for this role. We also feel they could have been better prepared with knowledge of trends in our industry.”

This might feel awkward, but in a LinkedIn study, 86% of job seekers want constructive feedback about their interview performance. If there are things you feel the candidate might not take well hearing from you, communicate these things to your TalentSource client rep.

Step 3 – Explain you are moving forward with another candidate and offer specific reasons why. For example, “We have decided to move forward with other candidates whose background more closely matches our industry.”

Finally, consider asking your TalentSource rep to ask for feedback on the interview process from the candidates.  Is there something you could have done to help them be better prepared for the interview?  Was there information you could have provided in a better way? We are dedicated to partnering with you in this process to find the best fit for your team.

There may be candidates you ultimately passed on; however, you feel they would be a great asset to your team.  Be sure to communicate this to your TalentSource rep. We will be sure to flag their resume for other potential open positions within your organization. It’s all part of our smart recruiting process. 574.968.8676