How to reject candidates the right way

8 Sep

Reject candidates in a respectful manner.

When companies hire or an open position, they focus on finding the right person for the job. That means the majority of people who apply for the position will get rejected. To human resources, this is just a fact of life, but applicants who toiled over their applications and had their hearts set on the job may have a different perspective. Candidates want to be acknowledged. When companies fail to respect job seekers, they damage the business's brand.

Candidates want respectful treatment
It's important to handle rejections tactfully. Many people who are excited to apply to a job at your company are your biggest brand advocates. You don't want to turn them off. Unfortunately, many companies fail to deal with the rejection process adequately, and this creates problems.

According to the 2015 Candidate Behavior Survey from CareerBuilder, 52 percent of companies respond to fewer than half of applicants. Moreover, candidates say only 40 percent of their applications receive any kind of response. Needless to say, candidates aren't happy about this. And these frustrated job seekers are likely to take some kind of action against the brand. Almost 60 percent say they are less likely to buy from a company that never responded to an application. Close to 70 percent will think twice before they do business with a company if they had a bad experience during the interview.

On the other hand, candidates who don't make the cut won't be upset if they feel they've been treated with respect throughout the application process. In fact, 69 percent of job seekers who had a positive experience are more likely to do business with the company in the future.

It's clear that providing a positive candidate experience, even to job seekers who don't make the cut, has benefits for the company. Here are some tips for turning down candidates (nicely): 

Respond to everyone
Even if the candidate was 100 percent unqualified for the position, it's polite to send a response. A quick form letter is adequate in the early stages. If you can, use a personalized salutation rather that something like "Dear Applicant." Email marketing solutions make it easy to send a response to everyone, so don't leave candidates hanging.

Consider the relationship
Depending on the relationship the candidate has with the company, companies will need to respond differently. If the person made it to the interview stage, you may want to consider a phone call to make the message more personal, according to Zip Recruiter. If you send a letter, be sure to add a personalized message.

Be honest
If the candidate is someone you would consider hiring in the future, let the person know you've kept his or her name on file in the company's employee management software and that the candidate should try again in the future. If the candidate lacked a specific skill, you can let the person know. This information will help candidates in the future and even turn the application process into a useful learning experience.

Be timely
According to Social Talent, it's polite to not leave candidates hanging for too long. Most recruiters wait until they've found the right person before they let applicants know they've been rejected. Instead, let each candidate know as soon as you know. If you screen out a candidate right away for lack of experience, send the person a message immediately; there's no point in waiting until the end of the process.

With the combination of email marketing solutions and an employee management system, it's not hard for HR staff to make the application process respectful to all applicants, even the ones who don't make the cut. Rather than damage your company's brand, be responsive to everyone.

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