By: Helios on December 19th, 2013

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The Best Ways to Let a Candidate Down

Best Practices | Talent Acquisition

The hardest part about being a Recruiter, in my opinion, is letting a candidate know that they were not selected for the position for which they interviewed. Over the past six years of recruiting, this was never an easy task, nor does it ever get any easier and it is safe to say it is my least favorite part of my job. While recruiters should try to avoid developing personal relationships with their candidates, the Human factor of Human Resources always comes into the picture when disqualifying a candidate, especially if you have been working with them throughout a lengthy interview/selection process forming a bond. While these tips/techniques may not alleviate the knot in your stomach when you relay the unfortunate message, it may provide you and the candidate a bit more comfort:

  • Always follow up: I've heard too many stories from candidates that interview for positions and never hear back from recruiters. This is inexcusable and should never happen. Even if the candidate wasn't selected, let them know and don't keep them guessing or wondering about their status. It is unprofessional and won't only give the Recruiter a bad reputation, but also the company they are representing. Not following up is a great way to burn a bridge with a candidate and who knows? You may need this candidate for something in the future. While most candidates would prefer a phone call, as it is more personalized, an email is also acceptable if crafted correctly. Be sure to show some compassion.
  • Be honest and provide feedback: Honesty is always the best policy- period. Candidates do not want to hear the generic: "The hiring team really liked you, but have decided to move forward with another candidate that was a closer fit. We will keep you in mind for future openings and thank you for your interest." This is the easy way out and I will admit that I have been guilty of relaying this message in the past. Candidates want the truth, whether the feedback is good, bad, or ugly. I now take a more straight forward approach and let candidates know exactly why they were not selected for the position. They will appreciate your honest feedback, as it will help them in future interviews.
  • Focus on the positives: Unless the candidate was completely unqualified, chances are the hiring manager that was interviewing your candidate gave you some positive feedback about the candidate's strengths. Be sure to relay this feedback to your candidate and tell them what the interviewer was impressed by. This will at least give them confidence for when they walk through the doors of their next interview.
  • Stay in touch: Just because your candidate didn't get the job, neither party should feel as though communication has to come to an end. Let them know that they are welcome to stay in touch, especially if you feel they are sharp and possess a quality skill set. Again, even though they weren't an exact match for the current position, they could very well be a perfect match for a future requisition. Now, if the candidate was unprofessional, unethical, etc. and you will not consider them for anything in the future, avoid maintaining the relationship, as this will be a waste of time for both parties. Be clear when you are telling the candidate "no" or "not right now" — there is a huge difference. As always, use your best judgment.

Leaving a candidate in the dark or not letting them down in the appropriate manner can prove to be detrimental in the long run. Remember, one of the key components to recruiting is building and maintaining strong relationships with your candidates. Always try to maintain a positive reputation for both you and your organization.