Candidate Experience & Rejection

Rejection is an unfortunate part of any experience, including the hiring process. In many ways, rejection shapes the way we think about and handle future situations. This means that the way recruiters convey it to candidates plays a big part that forming that company’s candidate experience.

A negative candidate experience is expensive. Here’s how you can reject candidates kindly:

1) Email the candidate immediately

First things first, as soon as you get word that the hiring manager doesn’t want to move forward with a candidate, email them! Job hunting is a long, tireless process, and you want to notify the candidate as soon as you know so they’re not left hanging.

While there’s some debate over whether difficult conversations should be done over the phone or email, the vast majority of candidates prefer email. Regardless of how you choose to deliver the news, it’s important to keep the candidate and their feelings in mind.

It’s difficult to hear that you’ve been rejected for a position, so timeliness and compassion are paramount.

2) Give candidate feedback

Depending on where the candidate got in the process, it might be appropriate to give them feedback. It’s important to remember: all feedback should be tied to concrete examples.

Feedback can be that a candidate gave great examples for their previous work experience or ways they can better “sell” themselves more. As with all constructive conversations, it’s important to lead the conversation with things they did well.

Chances are, the candidate is already feeling down. You don’t want to make them feel worse!

3) Continue the candidate relationship

Many recruiters have close relationships with candidates, so it can absolutely feel jarring if a candidate gets an automated rejection email rather than a personalized notification from someone they felt close with.

The relationship candidates have with their recruiter is a key part of the candidate experience, and it’s important to continue that. Even if the hiring team already emailed or called the candidate to let them know that they’re not moving forward with them, still make it a point to contact them yourself.

Additionally, keep an open line of communication with the candidate!

You never know where your recruiting will take you, so it’s important to treat all applicants and candidates with kindness and respect. Candidate experience heavily relies on how candidates are treated and how they view your organization, and how you treat candidates you’ve rejected is a reflection of that!