What not to do when you reject a candidate

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If you work in recruitment, rejection pretty much comes with the territory…

It’s never a nice job having to tell someone their application has been unsuccessful – especially if you don’t have too much previous experience in having to turn people down for a position.

However, it’s undoubtedly a vital part of the whole hiring process. And taking a little extra time to let people down in the right way can speak volumes about your business – not to mention help make your recruitment more productive.

For examples of what to avoid, here are some of our top tips on what not to do when rejecting a candidate for a role:


Don’t leave it too long

Finding the ideal candidate for your role isn’t always a quick process.

However, no matter how long you’re hiring for, you should always aim to get in touch with an applicant sooner rather than later. Especially as yours might not be the only role they’ve applied for.

In a recent survey, 90% of jobseekers told us they expect to hear back from a recruiter in the first two weeks – and some may even dismiss your role completely after this point.

So instead of keeping them hanging on or getting their hopes up, try and get in touch with them not too long after you go through their application – even if you’re only giving them ‘no’ for an answer.


Don’t ignore them

Even worse than delaying your response is choosing not to respond at all.

Firstly, it’s a sure-fire way to give off a negative impression of your organisation and your brand.  Nearly a third of jobseekers say they would be less likely to use the products or services of an organisation they believe had given them a poor recruitment experience.

And secondly, it can simply come across as ill-mannered. If it’s a no, just say no.

That’s far more useful to a candidate than never giving them the courtesy of a call back.


Don’t just copy and paste

Tailoring a response to each candidate can be time-consuming. Especially if a large number of people have applied for a role.

But instead of being tempted to send out a generic response every time, even one or two lines of feedback can make all the difference in improving a candidate’s approach to future applications – and shouldn’t take more than a minute or so to complete. Something which could even pay dividends for your own business in the future.

After all, they may not be right for this role. But with a little more work to build out a more comprehensive CV, they might just be the ideal hire for one of your future positions.



Don’t lie

If you do take the time to respond, honesty is (almost) always the best policy.

Without it, a candidate is never going to learn how to improve. And even if you think you’re killing them with kindness, chances are they’ll only end up seeing your response as disingenuous. Or, worse, heed your advice and make improvements in all the wrong areas.

But be warned: there is such a thing as oversharing. Criticising a candidate constructively about their CV is fine. Criticising them about their choice of outfit is probably a step too far.


Don’t forget that you were a jobseeker once

If all else fails, remember: you were once in the candidate’s position yourself.

And whilst it can be all too easy to think about your schedule, your targets, and all the other things that usually get in the way, taking a little extra time to get in touch isn’t just polite – it could actually help change someone’s life for the better.

So give feedback, let them down gently and be honest. You never know, you might need the same again yourself someday…


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