When (and How) to Tell a Candidate You’re Not Going to Hire Them

By Jezabel Southard

Posted on January 15, 2016

TellaCandidateYoureNotGoingToHireThemCongratulations! It’s been a long, hard hiring process, but you’ve finally found the candidate you want to hire. And best of all, your dream candidate said yes!

While some celebration is in order, you still have one task left: You need to contact the remaining candidates on the short list and let them know you will not be extending a job offer.

Here’s when (and how) to let these candidates down gracefully:

  1. Timing matters. The longer you leave candidates without an answer, the more frustrated they get. This is true not only for the candidate you extend an offer to, but for those who are out of the running as well. Don’t sour the candidate’s experience at the last moment; instead, get back to the remaining candidates shortly after the offer has been made in writing. You’ll demonstrate that you’re a company that cares about its employees – increasing the chances that these outstanding candidates will apply again in the future.
  2. Know what feedback you plan to give. Most top candidates want to know why they were not chosen for the job. Before you call, make a quick list of the items that disqualified the candidate from the running in this round. Whenever possible, base these on your company’s selection criteria. Perhaps the candidate was missing an optional but desired credential, lacked experience on a particular project, or wasn’t quite the right “fit.” When you have a specific list, you can provide more specific feedback. “If you worked on more social media management projects, you’d be a better fit for similar positions” is more helpful than “Another candidate’s skills matched our needs better.”
  3. Offer to stay in touch – if you mean it. If you genuinely want this candidate to apply again in the future, say so. Then, connect with the candidate on LinkedIn or invite the candidate to a professional event your company is hosting, like a conference or networking event. And if a similar opening appears in the future, remember to send the candidate an email or connect with a quick phone call.

Telling candidates that you aren’t going to hire them isn’t something that you need to face alone. Partnering with a strategic staffing firm allows you to leverage them for many aspects of the hiring process – including communicating with the talent you decide not to hire.

If you are looking for help meeting your staffing needs, we can help. At TERRA Staffing Group, our experienced recruiters place great talent with employers throughout the Seattle, Portland, and Phoenix areas. If you’re looking for your next A-player or rising star, contact us today!

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

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