Rejecting Candidates: Don’t Burn the Bridge

Hands down, the most common complaint job candidates have is the lack of communication in the hiring process.

It takes time and effort to apply and interview for your jobs, and candidates want to know where they stand. While it’s common to send an automated rejection email to the hundreds of unqualified applicants that apply to your company directly, rejecting a candidate submitted through your headhunter deserves a more personal touch.

You see, candidates that come through your agency have already invested in a personal relationship with your company through your headhunter, and a mass rejection letter isn’t appropriate when they’ve essentially been pre-qualified and shortlisted – and will leave a bad taste in the candidate’s mouth.

Candidates that have had a negative experience are likely to share it with others, hurting your employer brand.

On the other hand, a more personal communication can turn the candidate into a brand advocate for life.

To achieve this, you will need to set expectations with your headhunter, so they know what you expect in terms of candidate communication, and stay in frequent contact with them, so they can update their candidates in an appropriate timeframe.

Your headhunter and candidate should always know what the next step is, and when they can expect to hear back from you – and it’s critical that you either meet those deadlines or update them with new ones. Over-communicate if necessary, so long as your headhunter and candidate are kept up to date on where you stand.

As soon as you decide not to pursue a candidate further – whether it’s immediately after submission, or during the final round of interviews – it’s imperative that you let your headhunter know and provide detailed feedback as to why. Your headhunter can then pass on pertinent information on to the candidate so they know how they can improve for other potential opportunities, or how they can improve to get a job with you in the future.

If a candidate simply needs a little more experience to make them a good fit for your company, providing them with a good candidate experience will make them want to come back and interview again down the road – not to mention recommend your company to their network.

Your headhunters will also appreciate your timely and candid feedback, as they work hard to maintain candidate relationships, as well as their reputation, and know that communication is key.

Your feedback also helps your headhunter narrow down what you’re looking for, so you get better candidates in the future. Be proactive and offer up feedback as soon after each round of submissions and interviews as you can – but also be quick to respond to headhunter communications to keep the hiring process running smoothly.

Rejecting candidates can be an awkward situation that you’d probably rather avoid, but it must be done. You and your headhunter have to work together to communicate with your candidates and ensure a positive candidate experience – even for those that aren’t a fit for your current role.

2017-08-03T05:28:47+00:00 February 3rd, 2015|

About the Author:

Jen Dewar is a marketing consultant in the HR technology space with a focus on developing educational content for recruiters, corporate HR professionals, and staffing agency owners. She has spent the past 10 years working with a wide variety of companies — from corporate marketing for healthcare organizations and recruitment firms, to startup marketing for both Identified and Bright.com, prior to their respective acquisitions. When she's not doing marketing, you can find Jen snowboarding in Tahoe with her husband, traveling abroad, or enjoying a night in with friends and a good bottle of wine. She's a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara, with a degree in Socio-Economic and Political Global Studies.