How to Reject a Candidate in the Best Way Possible

Rejecting candidates is difficult for even veteran recruiters. Finding the right words to convey that they didn’t make it without coming off as rude or robotic is a real challenge — as is finding the right method. If done wrong, your company’s reputation will suffer. Executed correctly, more top talent will be banging on your doors than ever before. In this piece, we’ll be discussing how to reject a candidate professionally, and how you can create a professional environment even through traditionally negative actions.

Keep Things Honest and Brief

Everyone’s first instinct when delivering bad news is to cushion the blow. Often this comes in the form of a wordy explanation or lengthy opener. Don’t fall for this trap. A candidate waiting for a response from a company is likely stressed, and extra wordiness before a rejection will feel like you’re stringing them along. When it comes to composing a rejection email or letter, keep it brief and honest — they didn’t make the cut. They’ll appreciate the swiftness, like ripping off a bandaid. 

Let Them Know ASAP

In addition to a swiftly worded letter, let them know they’ve been cut as soon as possible. Recruiters will sometimes wait until after someone has been hired to let the other applicants know that they’ve been rejected. This accomplishes nothing a vast majority of the time and can make candidates feel like they’ve been ghosted.     

Keep Them in the System

As any good recruiter will tell you — keep the receipts! Don’t get rid of any data that you collect when hiring for a position. Any and all candidates that make it through the initial screening phase should be added to your external talent pool. The rejected candidate of today could be the star employee of tomorrow. 

Give and Receive Feedback

One of the most frustrating occurrences during job hunting is a rejection with no feedback. A recently conducted study found that around 70% of candidates who were rejected from a job received no feedback concerning their performance. When a job hunter is attempting to understand what they’re lacking, this can be demoralizing. They’ve completed your application and possibly done hours of work, including an interview, for a chance to be a part of your organization. Constructive feedback might sting, but will also make them feel like they’ve gained experience. 

On the other end of things, your company should be actively seeking feedback on your hiring process. Gathering survey data on your recruitment efforts can help you identify flaws within the current system. If you receive multiple complaints that the application was tedious, consider trimming it. Applicants don’t want to be forced to complete an hour-long exercise for no compensation just for a chance to be brought in for an interview.   

Personalize and Boost Efficiency With AI Tech

After going through the effort of applying, candidates will appreciate a personal rejection email. If you instead deliver a generic, obviously computer-generated message, they’ll feel devalued and objectified. With a large pool of candidates, many of whom will receive a rejection, it’s unfeasible to personally write so many letters. Investing in AI messaging software, like a high-quality chatbot, can resolve this issue cleanly. Platforms like our own pandoSELECT can help you maintain open communication with your talent. Your candidates won’t feel disrespected, and your HR team will be able to focus on necessarily human tasks. 

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