How to reject candidates without burning bridges
Rejecting candidates with grace is part of creating a positive candidate experience. When done right, it helps you build a healthy talent pipeline and improve your employer brand. That’s because candidates who leave your hiring pipeline on a high note are more likely to consider future job openings if you reach out, become customers or recommend your products/services and encourage people they know to apply for future roles at your company
- Reject candidates as soon as possible
Show rejected candidates you value their time with quick communication. Candidates want to hear from you promptly, even if you’re sharing bad news, so avoid waiting weeks to send rejection emails. As a rule of thumb, let candidates know you’re not moving forward with their candidacy as soon as you know. Book a weekly time slot to remind yourself to contact applicants who won’t advance in your hiring process.
- Personalize your communication
It’s best to reject candidates who reached your final hiring stage over the phone. You’ll get the chance to genuinely thank them for their time and give them constructive feedback. For candidates you reject during early stages, save time by sending emails. Add a personal note (e.g. “Good luck on your X project”) and invite them to connect with you on LinkedIn to keep in touch.
- Give honest (but useful) feedback
Offer specific, personalized feedback to help candidates understand why you turned them down. To avoid legal risks, be tactful and stick to job-related criteria (e.g. “We were looking for more energetic candidates” may sound discriminatory to older candidates.) Use interview scorecards to help you refer to specific facts when giving interview feedback. If applicable, recommend skills they could develop to become more competitive candidates or ways to improve their job search. As long as your advice is genuine, candidates will appreciate your help and remember the effort you made to help them improve their applications to other jobs.
- Open up lines of communication
Be available to candidates and be transparent about your hiring process. Offer details about your hiring time frame (e.g. how many candidates are moving to the next phase and when you expect to update them) and, in the meantime, let candidates know if your process or timeline changes. Make sure candidates have your contact details and encourage them to communicate their questions or concerns at any time.
- Ask for candidates’ feedback
Use your rejection process to gauge candidate experience. Getting feedback from candidates is not just self-serving; it nurtures trust between you and candidates and shows that you value their opinions. Invite them to complete your candidate experience survey, leave a review on Glassdoor or simply share their opinion over the phone. Thank candidates who respond and use their feedback to improve your hiring process.
Originally published on Workable