Rejecting candidates is part of the hiring process, however it isn’t a job that anyone relishes. When done correctly, a positive relationship is maintained that could prove very beneficial. When handled badly, the effects can be felt further than just that one disgruntled candidate.
Candidates that have engaged with your company will have an opinion on your company and you want to ensure that this opinion remains positive, even after rejection, for a number of reasons:
1. They are part of your industry. Candidates are likely to talk to friends and family about their interviewing experience, many of these may work in the same industry too. The word of their bad experience can quickly reverberate, reaching professionals that you hope would consider you to be a potential employer. They may not look upon you so favourably once hearing a bad review. Bad experience doesn’t just travel through word of mouth, and with the ever-increasing presence of review websites such as Glassdoor, candidates often take the internet to share their experience.
55%of job seekers report avoiding certain companies after reading negative online reviews.
2. Future opportunities. Just because the individual wasn’t right this time, doesn’t mean they won’t be suitable in the future. Providing a bad experience will mean the candidate is unlikely to apply again.
80%of job seekers say they would not reapply to a company that offers them a poor application experience.
3. Potential customers. With niche skill sets so in demand, it is likely candidates you’ve interviewed may choose to join one of your customers. It may be hard to rebuild this already soured relationship!
Virgin Media found that 18% of their rejected job candidates were also customers.
The detrimental effect a poor candidate experience can have on your business is evident, so how do you ensure rejected candidates remain brand ambassadors?
Once the decision has been made, inform the candidate they have been unsuccessful immediately. Although this is never an enjoyable conversation to have, putting it off won’t make it any easier. A good time frame for this would be 24-48 hours. If however, this isn’t possible, explain to the candidate, they will understand that there are sometimes delays and will respect that you’re keeping them informed. You should offer them a new timescale, and stick to it, this way the candidate isn’t waiting, twiddling their thumbs.
Rejections should be handled in a personal manner. Whether this is through your recruitment partner or directly yourself, the rejection should be delivered via a phone call. The candidate has taken time out of their schedule to prepare for their interview and meet with you, using a generic rejection email is unprofessional and impersonal. If unavailable to speak, leaving a voicemail stating the outcome of the interview but offering the opportunity to talk through the decision, gives the candidate the opportunity to reply if they want to.
A rejection gives the candidate an opportunity to learn and develop their skills, offering detailed but constructive feedback can be very valuable.
Firstly, you should check that the candidate wants to hear feedback, some may be disappointed about being unsuccessful and not want to listen further. Most, however, will be interested to understand why. It is important that feedback does not feel like a character assassination, therefore you should stick to professional reasons around their experiences and skills. In some cases, it may also be appropriate to offer advice around what certifications or courses they might consider undertaking to build their knowledge.
Keep the door open.
As mentioned earlier, just because the candidate isn’t right currently, doesn’t mean they won’t be down the line. If the candidate has performed well, you should suggest for them to keep an eye on your careers page and consider applying for future openings. Connecting on LinkedIn is also a good way to keep communication open.
Ask for their thoughts.
78% of job seekers report that they’ve never been asked for feedback on their candidate experience. As a hiring manager this could provide valuable information on how to improve your interview process for future candidates. It will also make the candidate feel their opinion is valued and respected.
In markets where talent is in short supply, creating positive experiences from negative outcomes, should be seen as an investment into future talent pools, whether that is the individual directly, or through the ripples of their story throughout the industry.