Guide to rejecting candidates
How to create a positive experience even when you say no.
Creating a positive rejection process
A considered approach to rejecting candidates is a crucial part of building a positive hiring experience. Do it well, and it can shape a great lasting impression of your company with candidates who may want to stay connected for future roles.
Consistent communication and constructive feedback may also make a candidate more willing to share your open roles with their network. Let’s explore each stage of the process and some overall tips.
Email within three days of a candidate’s submission.
First impressions count, so every candidate should receive an email confirmation of their application. But once it becomes clear a candidate is not the right fit for a current role, it’s important to let them know quickly.
Wait a little to say no.
Avoid sending same-day rejections, as this can raise the concern that your organization spent too little time vetting candidate applications.
Save time with a template.
Use a standardized rejection email to communicate with candidates whom you’re unlikely to consider for future positions. Download template.
Companies are growing all the time and adding new positions. Use personalized emails for candidates you’d like to revisit in the future.
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Call or email within two days of a phone screen.
Depending on the nature of the phone screen and your preferred communication method, rejecting a candidate at this stage can be done over email or with a phone call.
Think email first.
If you have a high volume of candidates at this stage, first consider rejecting a candidate by email, rather than phone, using a template. Download now.
Be open to discussion.
The key at this stage is transparency, so be open to sharing feedback over the phone, especially if there was a virtual skills-screening test.
Share actionable feedback.
However you decide to communicate with candidates, always provide tangible, skills-based commentary that leads with the areas in which they did well.
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Email within two days of the interview.
At this stage, you’ve likely developed a relationship with the candidate so rejecting them requires extra care.
Give specific feedback.
Avoid vague feedback that gives them false hope. Be compassionate and offer constructive and actionable feedback to support a candidate’s future job searches.
Start with an email.
Within two days of the interview, email the candidate using a template to let them know your company is not proceeding with their application. Download template.
Follow up by phone.
Use your discretion, based on your relationship with the candidate, and whether the candidate is open to a call. Calling them can provide an opportunity to give even more detailed feedback.
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Tips for maintaining a positive candidate experience through all hiring stages.
Consider these practices to help prepare your rejection conversations and stay connected to candidates.
Throw nothing away.
Your organization is constantly evolving with new roles becoming available. Keep a file of all rejected candidates who may be a better fit for future roles.
Not every candidate will deal with rejection well. Share actionable tips to show you genuinely want the candidate to succeed and encourage them to reapply for future open roles at the company.
Ask for feedback.
In addition to providing candidates with feedback, surveying rejected candidates can also help you understand and improve your hiring process.
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