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How to reject candidates

Bad news and bad experiences travel fast...

It is more important now, than ever before, to ensure that you have a plan for how to reject candidates who have taken the time to submit an application for your vacancy/s.

The single most common complaint from all job seekers is that they never hear anything back after they have applied or been interviewed for a role.

If you are looking to place your own advert, rather than use Macildowie or another agency to look after your recruitment then we recommend the following simple tactics to help ensure that the candidate/s feel informed:

  • ensure every candidate receives an automated recognition receipt once they have submitted their application.
  • stipulate on the email, the timings for the entire process.
  • at worst let them know that if they haven't heard by a certain date that they should assume they have been unsuccessful.
  • better still, record a 30 second video clip explaining the same message as above.  This way the candidate feels as if the message is more personal, even if it isn't.
  • we recommend that you also provide a telephone number, with a set date and time, when they can call to gain feedback - it puts the ball in their court.
  • in some instances (where a huge response is anticipated), we recommend that every applicant, upon sending their CV, is given an opportunity to fill out an "Experience Questionnaire" to supplement their application.  This means that they will have to think about how appropriate their skills and experience are for the role - many at this point remove themselves from the process.

Once a candidate has attended an interview, the relationship has reached a different level. One where the common courtesy of feeding back should take the form of a personal telephone call.

Here are our top tips on what the "rejection call" should cover:

  • Ask them if they would like feedback.  Most will, but don't force it if they're not interested.
  • Be honest, don't just tell them all the positives. Most candidate's want to know how and where they can improve.
  • Mark them (out of ten) regarding their experience against the job spec, explaining where they fell short and why that is important to you.
  • If the reason for rejecting them is a behavioural or personality one, then tread carefully.  We recommend sticking to facts!
  • If you don't have the time to call every candidate personally, we recommend sending them a letter, signed by you.  It is so much more personal than an email.

If you're still not convinced about the importance of rejecting candidates in a way that ensures they feel that the experience has been positive, remember that social media is very powerful - do you really want your preferred candidate reading about how others have had a bad experience of interviewing with your company?

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