"It isn't Us, It’s You" – What to Say to Candidates You Don’t Hire

By Jezabel Southard

Posted on October 31, 2013

Every hiring manager hopes to be in the position of deciding among two or three top candidates for a key position.  Each candidate possesses a great skill set, solid experience, and a work ethic and personality that fits perfectly with the organization’s culture and goals.

Being able to choose among a group of these star candidates is a great feeling – but what about the inevitable moment when you must tell one or more candidates that they will not be receiving an offer?

We previously covered gracefully rejecting an unqualified candidate. However, in this article, we go into more detail for keeping oh-so-close candidates in your network for future opportunities.

Just as there are good and bad ways to break any disappointing news, there are better and worse ways to tell a candidate that your organization has chosen to go with someone else.  Tips for breaking this news to candidates include:

  • Make your hiring decisions quickly.  Don’t stall the process; keep it moving, and make your choices promptly after completing interviews, reference checks, and other steps.  Letting a candidate know right away when he or she is out of the running allows the candidate to move forward with his or her own job search, instead of waiting for news from your organization.
  • Explain why the candidate isnt the best fit.  It’s tempting to give too much information here, particularly if you made a connection with the candidate, but revealing too much information can result in hurt feelings or worse – legal liability. Just let him or her know that the position was given to a more qualified candidate. If there is something the candidate can do to improve future chances (classes, certifications), mention that as well.
  • Stay in touch.  If you have a qualified candidate whom you would be pleased to hire, but who isn’t the first choice for this position, keep in touch.  That candidate may be the ideal choice for an open position in the future.  When it comes to keeping the door open, however, be honest – do not tell a candidate you’ll consider them for a future position or encourage the candidate to apply again in the future unless you genuinely intend for either event to happen.

Telling candidates “sorry, but no” isn’t always easy.  When done well, however, a hiring manager can leave the door open for top talent in the future while helping a candidate move forward with his or her own plans.

At TERRA Staffing, our experienced recruiters help you recruit the top talent in Seattle and Portland that fits best with your organization’s needs and goals.  Contact us today to learn more!

Categories: HR and Management Advice, Staffing Tips & Recruiting Trends

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