How To Say “No” To Candidates

The hiring process can be exhausting, long-winded, and frankly, boring at times. Thirty-three percent of bosses know in the first 90 seconds whether or not they’ll hire the candidate they’re interviewing. The rest of the interview can seem like formality after you’ve realized the person you’re gazing past make the cut. It’s common courtesy to give a firm “we’ll let you know,” but what else can an employer do to let them down? Is it even an issue?

Why It’s Important To Say No

Employers are working through several candidates in the interview process, the length of which doubled from 12 days in 2009 to 23 days in 2013. Recruiters have several candidates in the hopper at any one time, and can’t be bothered to pen a heartfelt email to each saying how much they appreciate them even though they didn’t give them a job. But taking that time and sending an email, even if it’s automated, can help you find better candidates in the long run.

“You want to leave each applicant with a positive view of your organization which simple, timely communication will achieve. This positive impression may affect your candidate’s application to your organization in the future . . . candidates do talk and often, like birds, flock together to pursue an employer of choice.” — Susan Heathfield (@SusanHeathfield)

It may not seem like much, but having a good letdown process can be just as important as hiring the right person. If candidates feel like their application or interview wouldn’t have mattered in the first place, as if the enormous corporation they applied to didn’t even know they were there, they’re less likely to apply again in the future, or recommend that company to friends. This could lose you good candidates in the future.

Why You Should Say It ASAP

The only thing worse than being told no is the suspense of not knowing. Seventy percent of employers don’t provide any feedback to candidates they’ve rejected, and it drives candidates crazy. Not knowing whether or not a job offer is coming can be stressful. Perhaps they have an offer from another company, but yours would be the bigger catch. Should they follow through with the lower-paying job or wait to hear from you?

Being in the dark is nerve-wracking, and it can lead to them badmouthing your company for their bad experience: 22% of candidates who have their application mishandled or delayed will dissuade their friends from applying at a company. Even an automated email saying “We have received your application and have decided not to move forward,” delivered the day you’ve decided against hiring someone is better than a personal email delivered five months later. While not being hired by your dream company is a blow, knowing you can move forward with other applications and interviews is invaluable information for a job seeker to know!

When You Can, Be Real

You don’t always have time to give the proper feedback, but if you can, you should. Candidates will have a far better opinion of you if you can let them know why you didn’t choose them and what they could have done to shine during the application process.

We could say this, for example: “The search committee has recommended another candidate, but all of the members agree that we want to see you in a leadership role. If you are open to feedback about how to position yourself for opportunities in the future, we would like to give you some advice. If this would be helpful to you, let’s schedule some time after you and we have taken some time to reflect upon the process.” — Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell)

Finding the time to deliver more personal feedback may be difficult, but it’s worth it. Letting people know you’re responsive in every aspect of the hiring process (even the worst part) lets applicants know you’re responsive, and can build a brand that could later lead to more applicants and better hires in the long run.

Photo Credit: by freemagebank

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