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There are good ways and not so good ways to professionally reject a job candidate. While you may think this is not a necessary thing to learn to do well, it may not be further from the truth. Once you have learned to reject job candidates properly, you will be able to perform your job search in a more professional way while putting your business in the best possible light.
Why it is worth learning to professionally reject job candidates
Imagine this: You are working in HR, or you are a startup on a meager budget in hopes of finding a talented job candidate to fill your open position. Applications are starting to flow in, more than the amount you expected. There were so many aspiring candidates for the position, but in the end only one reached it.
What should happen to the report you built with the rest of the candidates who did not make it? Do you interrupt them abruptly? What will this mean for your reputation as a company if you do this every time you deal with potential job candidates? As you can probably imagine, it is in your best interest to professionally reject candidates who have not cut back.
If, instead of leaving candidates in the dark, you “reject” them with appropriate notice, you are building goodwill. Candidates who did not reach this time may be encouraged to reapply in the future. Your brand perception will improve and you will not burn bridges with quality candidates. In short, there is a lot of upside to learning to reject candidates the right way.
The investment is necessary to reject job candidates
Fortunately, rejecting job candidates professionally does not have to be a long and arduous process. At least not when you use the right tools to help you automate as much as you can.
With a recruitment software like Workable, you can easily automate the rejection process. What does it really look like? Well, it can start with using a personal template that you send to the applicants through your recruitment platform. When you have a pool of applicants who did not make the incision, you can choose to contact them with a personal rejection message.
Workable is a great tool for this as it comes with many recruitment features that make the rejection process easier. With automation and scheduling features, you can streamline the rent and reject the process for each job opening. Learn more about usability and its best features here.
7 steps to reject job candidates
Rejection of candidates does not have to be scary (or a total drag). Here are five simple steps you can take the next time you need to inform aspiring job candidates that they have not cut back.
# 1 – Select a tool
We have already mentioned using a recruitment tool like Workable to help you deal with rejection of candidates. It comes with lots of applicant tracking features that can make it easier to contact job candidates either individually or massively.
However, this is not your only option. There are plenty of recruitment solutions you can use to help you integrate the rejection process into your recruitment.
We have spent hours researching and ranking some of the best recruitment tools out there. Check out our list to learn more about each recruitment tool and what they are each best for.
Choosing a tool that can help you through the rejection process can take some trial and error. You may need to demonstrate a few and try out their free trials to learn more about how well they work with the needs of your business.
The alternative is to manually email each applicant who did not get the job. As you can already guess, this can get messy and boring pretty quickly. Therefore, we recommend you go with a recruitment tool. You save time. As a result, you also save money in the long run.
# 2 – Use letter rejection templates
Once you have chosen a tool that makes the whole recruitment process easier, you will want to decide what you want your rejection letter for. What will the letter contain? How personal do you want it to be?
Once you make these decisions, you do not have to start over. There are plenty of bounce message templates out there that you can use as a solid starting point. For example, Workable gives you plenty of recruiting templates, including a rejection letter.
The general elements of a gracious letter of rejection are:
Thank you for applying for the position What your final decision was (moving on with another candidate) Feedback or compliments on their interview performance Whether you consider them good for future or tangential positions A warm concluding sentence or two that wishes them well Your signature and Company Contact Information
Your rejection letter does not have to follow a stone template. The more you personalize your rejection letters to match your company’s brand, the better.
# 3 – Contact rejected candidates as soon as possible
Through the candidate search process, you will not let candidates who did not get the cut wait in the dark. It is good practice to let them know as soon as you have decided who will get the job offer. The less time your job candidates leave waiting for them, the more positive your graduate experience will be.
Letting them know as soon as you can that they did not land the job also shows them that you value the effort and time they invested in your application process. If possible, try to avoid long periods of time when you are not in contact with a set of candidates.
A good way to ensure that waiting time does not become a recurring problem is to schedule time to send rejection letters. With a recruitment tool like Workable, it can be easy to automate the reminder process. When you receive the automatic alert, be sure to contact anyone who has applied.
Remember that email for rejection messages is not the only way to professionally reject candidates. With graduates who have gone through a more involved hiring process, you can set aside time to reach them by phone and talk to them in person.
Taking the phone and addressing them in person goes on to show your gratitude to them for participating in the hiring process. You can discuss any special skills that set you apart or provide feedback.
# 4 – Customize your rejection message
In general, the more personal your rejection letter is, the more memorable and positive the experience will be for candidates you reject.
This may include feedback. The amount of personal feedback you give in a rejection letter is ultimately up to how your company wants to manage each candidate. While some rejection letters contain remarks or compliments about specific skills a potential candidate brought to the table or were impressive, others do not bother to personalize rejection letters to that level.
Some ways you can customize your rejection letter are:
Address the candidate by name Point out all the skills and assets that stood out during the interview process Close with a statement relevant to their field and offer to connect online
# 5 – Avoid negative connotations
In other words, use professional language, but stay away from words that create negative connotations. For example, you would not say anything along the lines of, “We’m sorry to inform you that you have been rejected …” That sounds too harsh.
Another way to avoid negative connotations? During the feedback process. If you decide to give feedback at all – whether you are calling a candidate or sending an email to them – you will stay away from offering negative or overly critical feedback. If you want to include feedback at all instead, keep it positive and constructive.
You want to avoid feedback that is comparative, as in feedback where you compare their skills with another candidate. Instead of diving into things a candidate could have done better, make it a point to highlight where they excelled the most.
Were there unique skills they showed worth pointing out? Was the interview an enjoyable experience for them? Candidates, especially those you reject, do not want to receive calls or letters filled with negative feedback from a potential employer. It is counterproductive to the whole point of professionally rejecting candidates in the first place.
Avoiding negative connotations can keep you in good grace with potential future candidates and steer you free of any hiring issues if your words are misinterpreted.
# 6 – Offer to keep them informed
There are plenty of ways to keep in touch with candidates you are not hiring. You can contact them via social media, get them to sign up for your newsletter or occasionally email them using your recruitment software.
Therefore, it is a good idea to close your rejection message by offering candidates a way to stay in touch. Follow-up with job candidates ensures that you do not burn any bridges and keep communication open. If there are future openings or job fairs they can attend, you can let them know.
Keeping rejected job candidates informed is another way to build rapport and create a positive brand experience. Even if you do not end up hiring candidates, they will still have a positive view of your business as either a connection or even a customer.
You will always hire fewer job candidates than you reject. That is why it is so important to ensure that you reject aspiring candidates with grace, positively and professionally. Eligible candidates who did not come to cut this time will be less reluctant to apply for future job openings if the interaction with your hiring process does not leave a bad taste in your mouth.
# 7 – End everything on a positive note
The fact that you are communicating with rejected job candidates already gives you an advantage over companies that do not bother the process. To end everything well, it is important to keep in mind that you will try your best to end any interaction with rejected candidates in a positive way.
To do this you can:
Sincerely wish them good luck in their future engagements Offers to provide additional job opportunity information Thank you for the time they spend offering to answer any additional questions they may have Offer to stay connected via social platforms Let them know about job fairs or upcoming events Give them a chance to give feedback Tell them you hope they are considering applying for future opportunities (if they were a valuable candidate)
If you really want to go the extra mile during the rejection process, you can choose to both call them and send them a follow-up email. While this can be a more time consuming process, it does more to create the positive experience without burning bridges.
Another option? Video messages. Although rare, it is another way of rejecting candidates with a more personal touch. They will hear the bends of your voice and read your movements more accurately. While this is by no means a requirement for job candidate rejection, it is an option to consider, especially if the recruitment process is remote and more involved than usual.
Proper rejection of job candidates can set the tone for future employees. Going out of your way to ensure that you carefully and professionally reject job candidates will help you create a better branding experience, additional goodwill, and stay connected with valuable candidates. But dismissive job candidates are graciously only a small part of the recruitment process.
That is why we have created a guide with a five-step process to conduct a good job interview. It is always a good idea to know how to scan CVs – what to look for and how to streamline the process. You can check out this guide to learn more.
Do you want to streamline your HR process? We also have a guide for that. It guides you through the process of choosing an HR tool according to your company’s unique needs. Do not forget to bookmark any (or all) of these guides for future reference if you have found them useful.